NB and NC rust problems

Newbie question - am I right in thinking that NC (post 2005) mx5s have less of a rust issue that previous models ?
As a bloke who openly admits to being mechanically poor at best would £3k get me a NC where Rust, Roof and Reliability wouldn’t be a problem - or am I living in cloud cuckoo land ?

You can get an NC for around your budget, probably a tad more for a better one with lower mileage.
There are cars out there now that must have serious rust around the lower rear wheel arches and up under the inner sill again at the rear. I’ve see a few (in pictures) that are holed in that area, also the rear chassis legs need checking out.
The engines can give out if the oil servicing hasn’t been done regularly and oil levels kept to the max mark on the dipstick. Most other stuff is pretty reliable, probably brake calipers give trouble if not regularly serviced.
First things to look at when going to buy a car are those I’ve mentioned above, it’ll definitely be rusty underneath unless it’s been treated, so expect to see it, how much is there it’s up to the buyer to decide how serious.

Why gamble, go for the Mk1 Eunos import, non interference engine unless the belt goes at 6-7000 revs. Import models that have been coveted since import will have faired better than our UK models.
Pop up lights too :+1:

Ahh so as a 61 year old who has always bought newish cars because he knows nothing this is a minefield - I am looking for a roof down summer car that will spend wet days in the garage !
Honestly a bit of ‘therapy’ ! Mx5s have such a good reliability record that I thought great and I love the look of them. Ahhh

I’m getting the feeling that these days £3k will get you a MX5 that can get you into a bit of trouble.

Mk1s are reliable, as far as a 25-30 year old can be; anything could fail. They won’t depreciate though. A year ago, £2k would have been the entry point for a solid car, now it seems to be nearer £3k. Forget the “imports have less rust”; most have been here 20+ years, and would have been brought, in the main, because they were cheaper than UK spec.

For £3k, you will have to be very lucky to find a NA/NB/NC model without some sort of issues without a fair bit of inspection. £3k can get you a great NB (Mk2), but its not guaranteed. There is a lot of rubbish out there, and spivs selling on something full of filler on a nice sunny day.

If I was looking for just a bit of cheap top down motoring, but wasn’t that confident about mechanics etc, search autotrader for any cabio, price £3k, and see what comes up.

There are the motorised chop tops popular a few years ago. I can recommend a face lift Focus CC; my dad had one from almost new, until he had to give up driving . I sold it on, a 2008 model, for only £900, and beyond some minor cosmetics, there was nothing wrong with it (the motorised party trick roof worked perfectly, and never let a drop of water in). No rust on it at all, and as it was a CC3 model, had a nice interior and a 2.0 diesel with a lot of grunt. Some trim combos can actually look very upmarket (especially in the light metallic blue with the saddle brown leather interior). Its not a car for hustling around the twisties, but even Clarkson liked it. The Fords seemed a bit better made than the Peugeots, Renaults and Vauxhalls of the era, and the mechanics are touble free.

Left field cars that seem good value are BMW Z3s, which seem to hide their age well, plus all the panels just unbolt. They do rust, but nothing like a MX5. I have a feeling you won’t lose money on a £3k example. Similarly the Toyota MRS (MR2); the Lego Roadster. Its supposed to be a good, fun drive, and I think the looks have worn well. The interiors look great, especially if they have those highback red cloth seats (not sure if that is a JDM thing on these). They don’t seem to rust, and the essentially Corolla powertrain we know will be long lasting.

Food for thought (notable that the California looks pretty rusty):

A car like this on Autotrader for £1500 is pretty compelling

This might be heresy, but if I had only £3k to spend, and didn’t need the boot space, I might look at the Toyota. They seem incredible value. Luckily I don’t need to as I have a Mk1 with a bazillion miles tucked away in the garage, never being used…

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as a newby to MX5s, i started looking about Feb and bought in late April. £3k wouldnt buy much of an NC. Even £4-5 would have the start of problem rust areas. Prices are strong.

And, heaps of people will be along saying “i bought a mint one last year for peanuts” - my experience is that WAS last year.

There will no doubt be good deals out there if you look hard long enough…but you would need to do the research.

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Try looking here (a face book page)

3k is so last year, I WISH i could even pick up an NC at auction for that, they are going for 4-5k unseen! Prices are the strongest I have ever seen and nothing seems to be slowing the sales. Do not even get me started on ND prices!

I’ve been looking lately, prices are a bit too rich for me. In no rush, I’ve got one, it’s a good one but it gets you thinking, what’s mine worth if I tried to sell it right now?
I was hoping to pick up the car I wanted for around £12k, no chance, approaching £14k seems about it now and that’s for a car 7 years old. Most main dealers don’t want 7 year old cars on the forecourt but they do if it’s a one off good seller.

It’ll only be less severe as the car isn’t as old. Lots of reading here:

Thanks for the FB link.
I’m guessing that grouping is less enthusiasts more people looking to sell - perhaps an early NC bargain may pop up - I suspect there’s not much chance of a well priced one on the forum as the members will be adding a premium for an enthusiasts car - or do the odd well priced car come up on here ?

You’d be suprised at what turns up on that FB page. Keep going back to it.

More cars are advertised in the MX5 Owners Club magazine than advertised here.

If cars are more expensive on the forum, or in the club magazine, its probably because they have been better taken care of. You might get a bargain in one of the free ads, but you say you are not confident about mechanics and body condtion. Mechanical weaknesses have already been highlighted, and the NC does rust.

Occasionally you get bargains, such as this Mk1, which will sell quick:

From the description, it ticks a lot of boxes. Very original Mk1. Probably has some rust lurking, but I don’t think its ever had any welding repairs. Owner has done a few key jobs.

The MOT history ain’t bad either, how can you give an advisory for protecting the car underneath?
Presumably the owner has painted the underside to protect it, I’ve done it to mine, no advisory.

One word; quotas.


@Pops1 take a look at this video for NC rust areas…


Thanks for input guys. As I said sadly I’m a complete novice to this. So am I right in thinking a 31 year old Mk1 could / would / should have less of a rust problem than an early Mk 3 (that would be 15 years old say).
Is there any rule of thumb or is it a complete lottery ?

Hi @Pops1 … I think the comment about the Mk1 Eunos import was most relevant if you had a fresh import, as Japan does not (as far as understood) use salt on their roads. I bought my first Japanese import in 2000 at 5 years old (car not me !) But that was a long time ago ! But agree it was in great condition. But I doubt you could get one in your budget. IMHO your best bet is to go for an NC but you need to be very careful and look at a lot. Buy from a long term owner who’s garaged it. But be so careful of those rust areas which are well documented.

While there is a video on (to date) observed Mk3 (NC), its still an issue that is emerging, and there is potential for more surprises. One MX5 specialist told me, simply, they rust everywhere, but its all easy repairs, compared to a Mk1 or Mk2.

For MK1s (NAs), any rust is in your face. Its obvious to see. Its also fairly predicable. A 31 year old MX5 can be incredibly rusty. For the imports, the rule of thumb is rusting starts from the day it lands in the UK; so a 2004-imported 1990 car would have the rust condition of a 2004 UK car.

For Mk2s (NBs) and NCs, the trend is progressively more cryptic rusting; rusting that is no obvious, because of covers. On the NB, thats in how the engine tray covers the front chassis legs, obscuring rusting around the front subframe mounts, until its in a pretty catastrophic (but repairable) state (Mazda changed the design of thr chassis legs on the NB, which introduced new moisture traps, the chasis legs on the NA are not known to rust). Roll onto the NC, and there are even more plastic panels that can cover areas of concern.

And in general, anecdotally, MX5s have declined in perceived build quality over the years, starting in 1995 (the later Mk1s had cheaper carpets, and went rustier more quickly than earlier cars, though that is now fairly immaterial now). Some call that value engineering.

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