GUIDE: Buying a used Mazda MX5

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The fact is that if you want a sports car, the MX-5 is perfect.

– Jeremy Clarkson, 2009



First Generation

The original Mazda MX 5 is a classic model, known for it’s pop up headlights. It was the first of the series, and although heavier and less efficient than later models is still a phenomenal vehicle.

Being a Mazda, this vintage series automobile is still sporty, sexy and stylish; not to mention reliable. You can still find these gorgeous retro roadsters at good prices on the second hand market.

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Second Generation

The second generation Mazda Mx 5 featured a slight increase in horsepower. Cosmetically the car switched it up with fixed headlights and a rear glass window.

This glass window replaced zip off plastic ‘windows’ that were lighter but less efficient. Versions include the 10th anniversary model of the Mazda MX 5, which features six-speed transmission and Bilstein shock absorbers.

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Third Generation

The elegant third generation Mazda MX5 was poised and polished, having knocked off the corners of it’s youth and developed an appealing maturity. The vehicle featured a powerful 2.0 L (120 cu in) engine.

The 2005 debut won Japan’s ‘Car of the Year’ award, and later in 2008, an exciting new look was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show & Science Museum in London. It was followed by a superlight model, then the MX-5 Roadster Coupe, a sturdier hardtop with enviable handling.

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Current MX5

The latest, fourth generation Mazda MX 5 is a sleeker, lighter, faster automobile, 100kg lighter than it’s previous iteration. The car is still more than impressive, featuring a newfound edge which harmonises beautifully with the strength and integrity of this fast mover.

This more agile motor is designed to handle tight corners perfectly, with a low centre of gravity (which is 45mm shorter and 5mm lower than the original Mk1). All in all, a contemporary classic, with a refreshing spring in its step.

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What to Look For?

  • The quantity of owners, age, even mileage, don’t necessarily indicate condition – and with the Mazda MX5, condition is everything.
  • Rust is the key enemy of the Mazda MX5. Corrosion can affect bodywork, engine and wheel arches – check underneath the car as a first priority. Also, do check the exhaust – the low slung carriage of the MX 5 can cause exhaust damage.
  • Always check the engine, though a Mazda MX5 engine will typically be strong and performance excellent (caveat, watch out for the 1995 1.6 model).
  • Check the soft top and any plastic ‘windows’ for cracks and splitting.
  • The nature of vintage sports cars means the leather seating may show some wear. This can be an attractive feature, or an annoyance, but it is very common. Don’t pay too much heed to this; seats can be replaced or reupholstered for a reasonable fee.
  • Always check the fog light before you sign on the dotted line, particularly with Miatas.
  • Start up the car and make sure it hasn’t been ‘warmed up’ by the seller. It’ s important to check for rumbling and whining noises. Test the brakes – brake callipers can wear out quickly and they are seriously important.
  • Finally, enjoy your Mazda MX5 for many years to come!

For a printable list of the above, download it here.


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