Newbie Advice



I quite like the thought of a little roadster to entertain me in my later years. I used to have a Z3 (and indeed a Z4) for this purpose but regrettably let both of them go. I’m now in a SLK, but that’s getting a bit tiresome as an everyday driver, so my plan is to buy an SUV and then a little weekend car for those entertaining drives.

Anyway, enough history. I’ve only just started the hunt so what should I be looking out for mechanically? I’ve got a budget of £7K but would happily spend less if I can determine what would be a good investment, and have narrowed the requirements down to the 2 Litre and 6 speed box.

Any pointers most welcome.





there has been lots of past posts about the six speed box problems I have a 1.8 06 reg with a 5 speed box and it has no problems.

For that money you will get a very nice MK3 Sport, no problems at all with the 6 speed box.

Stick a location in, you might get the offer of a passenger ride or at least the chance to have a look at a few cars.


Have a look at mx5 city in Doncaster, that’s where I got my lovely mk1 from. They have some lovely cars on their website and offer advice and parts. Good luck.

Corrosion, corrosion, corrosion but some MK3 cars are fine underneath. The worst examples in a lot of cases have come from the lower part of England, normally due to high salt usage in NE Scotland, I would expect that more up here. I have yet to see a MK3 with that issue but the local bodyshop has seen a few.

There are large areas left without stonechip from the factory, the MK4 is also lacking complete coverage of stonechip.

Some 6 speed boxes can be sticky between 1st and 2nd when cold. Some not. Castrol Syntrans Mulitivehicle or Redline MT90 gear oil can improve the change if it is an issue. A small number of 6 speed boxes still have an issue after a gearbox oil change. My car never had a gear change issue.

A few cars have had engine failures but the majority opinion is that has been caused by a low oil level. If the car is driven above 4,000 rpm on long journeys, it can use oil but due to their high gearing this is not a big issue if you like the low revs in 6th gear.

There are two scuttle grommets that need sealed to stop water getting onto certain electrical areas. An easy fix.

In reality you are talking about an 8 year old car at that price, so there will be some sorting to do.

Thanks for all the replies… Couple more questions.


  1. The Mark 3 is the one from 2007 I’m assuming. Did this come as a hard top and a soft top?

  2. With the hard top, are there any issues with the roof mechanism? My SLK is great but not long ago I had to fork out £800 on a new motor for the Z4 I was running. Common problem on them!

  3. Corrosion sounds worrying, certainly not something I had considered. Most on the road look very clean.

  4. Finally, clarification please on MK3.5 and PRHT… Saw them in a couple of posts!

If you’re looking for a fun weekend car, go test drive all the marks. You may well find a MK1 fits the bill much better than the mk3, or indeed a mk2. Just because you have 7k to spend doesn’t mean you should, or that you’ll get a more enjoyable car. Personally I wouldn’t touch a mk3. The older cars would also be much cheaper to insure as you could get a limited mileage classic policy. There are some stunning mk1 and mk2 cars well within your budget. You’ll find the mk1 unrefined and probably the best from a purist point of view. The mk2 has more refinement and a few modern additions, but still drives like a sports car. The mk3 much more refined but drives less like a sports car. Go try them all, you’ll see what I mean.

PS. PRHT is the hard top. power retracting hard top or something similar. Mk3.5 and mk3.75 are the newer slightly upgraded mk3’s.

I have had an SLK, BMW Z3M and a Z4. Build quality of the german cars is high but so are also repairs. The cost of £2500 for an electric steering just for the part alone on my Z4 was beyond belief. The MX5 will be much cheaper to run but as Mazda did not spent much money on rust proofing there are problems. They may look alright on the outside but will rust underneath so have a good look at the MOT. Many cars already have advisories on subframe and sill rust. Do not look at the car as an investment as you will always lose money on a car. By a good one that has been rust proofed and it will give you many hours of happy cheap motoring. 

Many thanks for the helpful posts. I did actually go and test drive one yesterday but found it didn’t really fit…lol

I’m not the slimmest of gents and about 5’ 10" tall. Head room was fine, but the steering wheel was sat on my lap. It only adjusted for reach, not rake. Is this true for all the models? I dropped the seat as low as it would go but then I got the dreaded squeak as it rubbed against the rear bulkhead.

I did buy a Mazda though, brand new CX-3 for the wife!

What model did you look at ? My 2006 MK3 steering wheel has height only adjustment ie vertical axis.

It was a 2010 Hard Top, pretty basic spec with a 5 speed box.

Steering Wheel only adjusted for reach (In/Out).