New…. buying advice

Morning all!
I’m in the market for an mx5 with about £5k to spend. I’d love an NA but finding it hard to find any local enough to go see (North Yorkshire) could also be tempted by an NC, just not sure where my money would be best spent. I’m looking for a bit of b-road fun and have a garage now!
All advices welcome, looking forward to being part of this thriving community.


I’ve owned an NC, ND, and now an NA. All are great fun, but while you can make an NA more comfortable, and an NC more hardcore, in stock form they are different starting points.

If it to be used as a daily or long journeys, I would consider NC, possibly with the folding hardtop.

If it is purely an “analog” weekend toy, then an NA might be a better starting point.

If you want to improve and “tinker”, then an NA will need more maintenance (Some are over 30yrs old now) whereas tinkering with an NC will (hopefully) be more about modifying and making it yours. Of course you can do both on an NA, and they are arguably simpler to work on.

I don’t think any car is a “safe” investment, but value of NA’s appears to be climbing. I’m not sure if NC’s have reached the bottom of the curve yet, but I’m sure if you (plan to) own it long enough, they should drop and then come back!

Hope that helps, if you can get along to a local meet I’m sure owners of both would be willing to share their experiences and take you out in their pride and joy.

Hi David,
Welcome. As a biased opinion, NCs are the best buy at the minute. NA getting a bit too classic for my budget. Also a properly sorted , (i.e. slight lower and full geo) is a delight to drive. Some I tested were bordering on scary but they can be sorted. Mine is a 1.8, no A/C, no LSD, just straight forward rear drive B road fun as you say. Scorpion exhaust adds to the sound and definitely another 20bhp, :wink:.
Decent tyres at the right pressure, suspension in good nick, front strut brace all help with the handling and don’t cost loads. Very practical and so far not too bad to work on/ tinker in garage. good luck in your search.

I would sit in all versions before making a choice.

I found NA and NB felt a bit small inside.
The NC is a nice size inside
The ND felt similar to an NB inside.

When it comes to equipment the NC also ticked many boxes ( 2006 Sport )
6 speed gearbox
17" alloy wheels
Bilstein suspension
Traction control
leather heated seats
leather door cards
Decent stereo with very easy upgrade path to 7" touchscreen unit.

Thanks Ian, wise words I’m sure! The romantic in me is leaning towards an NA, I guess I’m nervous I’d need to spend more than I have for one ‘clean’ enough to enjoy and not be worrying about rust etc? I’ve been looking at the classifieds here but nothing close enough to visit has come up yet. Patience is perhaps key!

Thanks Marc, a cheap 1.8 and budget left for coilovers and sticky rubber does sound tempting, also I think I could be less precious about and NC which might add up to more fun. Got myself thinking I’d rather an NC2 though for the high revving engine, and then budget becomes an issue again!

Thanks cbrdeano, the NC does seem to be the most ‘car’ for the money. You’d recommend a 2l sport I’m presuming? You happy with the stock suspension? Really appreciate these responses.

Yes - I went with a 2ltr Sport soft top.
Did consider a folding hard top but decided that the soft top was more traditional for the type of car.

Generally happy with the stock suspension but would like it to be a touch lower so it looks right.
The arch gap is a bit big for the style of the car.
( I can see a set of coilovers in the near future )

Best change so far has been to upgrade to a 7" touchscreen stereo unit so I have android Auto + many other features of a later car ( DAB radio, music from sd card, reverse camera etc )

All good advice, but I wouldn’t rule out an NB though, perhaps more sports car than an NC and similar to an NA. The original pre facelift NB would be my choice with your budget. My first MX5 was a well used 2000 MY NB in black and it was a lovely car, see photo. You’ll need a bit of spare cash for ongoing maintenance, but choose carefully and you should be ok. Best of luck.

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I ended up with an nc - I’d have loved an nb but being a fussy git I felt it would be a lot easier to find a car I’d be happy with if it was newer and with less miles. That and literally all the nb’s I’ve ever seen around my way (no exaggeration) all have rusty rear arches or their rear quarters in primer which wasn’t a good sign for me. Nc do appear to have their own issues though.

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That NB does look nice! Opening up options rather than shutting them down! I’m going to keep an open mind and try and get the straightest mx5 I can find. Will defo post my progress on here,

Hello David,
Completely agree with @ian_c on his assessment. I’m not sure if you have driven the different models, as all have mentioned they have distinctly different characteristics. I have been on the merry-go-round seeking the one I like best. So if you get the opportunity to drive or be a passenger that might help you decide. I’m based in London otherwise you could have driven mine.
Good luck and in all honesty they are all great cars.

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Thanks Theo, that’s a very kind offer, I definitely need to try a few, very limited with time here and miles from anywhere! I noticed mazdadudes have several for sale in Darlington so I might try and get along there to have a close up look at a couple in one go. Feeling no wet split between NA and NC still, saw a 2.0sport on meister Rs and gold enkeis on eBay really got the blood pumping, but also something very cool about a BRG roadster! Not feeling very decisive!

Welcome to the group just a couple of bits of observations to add.

When my then 16 year old MX5 was bought for me we just wanted a cheap red sports car for a year or two, however because it had been standing on a forecourt a couple of calipers had siezed which then required two new discs and calipers and new pads all round which the dealer paid for. Then after looking at the service history I could find no evidence the water pump and cambelt had been changed so I paid for that to be done as a matter of course.

If I was looking for another 2nd hand MX5 regardless of age and service history and outside condition I would factor in spending upto around £1k for the best rust protection I can afford be it NA, NB, NC or even ND and upto £1k for 1st year maintenance and repairs if I had been on a tight budget without factoring in these kind of expenses I probably would not have had five subsequent years / 60k of motoring bliss along B roads.

I’d also recommend going to an owners club meeting as asking to have a look up close to NA, NB and NC variants and if possible asking to sit in them. They all feel very different even when not moving.

Finally I’d recommend it is worth travelling to the extremities of the country to find the right car at the right price, and if you make a couple of trips and come back empty handed at least you will know when you find the one you will have dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s.

My totally biased recommendation would be NBFL S-VT, good luck on your quest and with what ever you choose.

If you had much more money then I would recommend an nd2 2.0, it’s a great car with a great engine.
On your budget ( which is what I decided to also spend) , then I’d go for either a NA or NC (all the NB’s I viewed were rotten).
The NA is a lovely little car , but they are now getting old and rattle a bit and things go wrong and rusty, I have driven a couple, one for a good hour and it was great, but more a quick Sunday run rather than a regular use car.
I decided to buy an NC, after driving many and viewing many I found about 1/2 were in good condition underneath ( although you learn what questions to ask before going a view a car) , the engines between early NC and later NC drive nearly identically, but the stereo and suspension in later cars is better.
I brought an early 2006 car with 36k miles for approx £4k, then spent about £1200 on it including new discs , pads , tyres full service (all oils) , fitting eibach springs, used sports exhaust, used decent stereo, i now have a lovely car that drives really well with modern stereo and I would trust 100% . (It now drives better than the early ND cars I have driven).
The big things are - check underneath we for rust, check the engine from cold for rattles and smoke, an engine that uses oil with become a big problem. Check the gearbox ( should be lovely ).
They are a very easy car to work on, so if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty they are very cheap to keep and run.

The question should be what do you want from an MX5

If you want a B road blaster, then the NA/NB is best with the later NB being the better choice

If you want a more touring, relaxing less exciting drive from A to B then the NC is better.

My budget was £5k when I sold my ND2 and started looking for a mk1 but couldn’t find anything that ticked the boxes for me in that price bracket. In the end I blew the budget and bought my 1.6 SE from a specialist.

The ND2 was a great car, as was the NBFL I had beside that, but this NA is the greatest by far bang-for-buck.
It’s a daily and not ideally suited to winter with no a/c to demist the screen in wet weather for example but it’s an absolute joy to drive.

If you can find one within budget at this time of year, that needs minimal or no work, you may get your money back in the spring if you decide to sell. Good luck!

A well setup NC is just as exciting to drive down a B road as the earlier models (although it might not be as frightening).

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I was going to say I find the nc pretty engaging to drive so far coming from various other sports cars with more power.

I find it’s not especially refined and can be a little noisy inside with the prht up but certainly comfortable and nice enough to be in and more than makes up for these things with a fun drive and superb handling. I’m personally finding driveability and useability from the 2ltr surprisingly good considering my goal is to turbo - because it’s small, low and light and the way the gearing is setup it pulls quite nicely and cruises well. Feels a lot quicker than it is which I think is great. Just my 2p. Also great to have a car with hydraulic pas again. So much more feel.

I’ve driven an na eunos roadster but not a particularly good one, it was a bit rickety, and I have no experience driving an nb though I’ve been a passenger in a turbo one which was great fun and find nice ones are lovely looking. :+1:

Goodwood Sportscars in Berwick-upon-Tweed could be worth a visit. I bought a 1993 NA from them 6 years ago and its still in excellent health today. Check out their website.