I really miss my 1992 Mazda MX-5 Miata, like a lot. Curiosity got the best of me recently and I went looking for how much a good NA Miata would cost. You can imagine my surprise after seeing how high prices for the classic sports car have risen. And for the life of me, I can’t see why people are willing to pay that much for the car.
Back on February 9, 1989, Mazda took the wraps off of MX-5 Miata at the Chicago Auto Show. The vehicle took a lot of inspiration from classic British roadsters for its design and driving philosophy. A lot of the car’s components were new for Mazda, as the automaker wasn’t well versed in making compact, rear-wheel-drive roadsters.
Clearly, the brand did a heck of a job, as the roadster was one of the most-affordable and enjoyable sports cars on the road when it came out. Fast forward 28 years to today and the NA Miata is still one of the best used options on the market.
Anyone that’s gotten behind the wheel of the original Miata will know why the machine has continued to be a go-to choice that’s survived time. I mean, Mazda’s built 1 million units of the freaking thing.
The earlier models – pre ’94 – came with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine producing just 116 horsepower. While that’s laughable by today’s standards, it was more than enough to have a good time. For the 1994 model year, the sports car benefited from a 1.8-liter engine, but power only grew to 128 hp. Still, that’s nothing compared to modern sports cars.
The thing about the NA Miata is that it was never meant to set any records in a straight line. It was about driver enjoyment, driver involvement, and having something that was easy to work on when things went wrong. Not that a lot did go wrong, as the sports cars were incredibly reliable.
I’ve made it abundantly clear that I’ve owned a Miata before, so much so that I’m sure some of you think I’m a broken record. But there’s something special about the NA Miata. The sports cars with the 1.6-liter engine were hilariously slow, but that just pushed you to take a corner faster.
Shifting between gears was short and precise and because of the car’s lack of power, you were constantly shifting, rowing through all of the gears to keep the engine at the top of the rev range. Once there, everything started to hum and buzz, at least in my example, which made me just want to go faster.
You can’t get that kind of feeling in any other car, but I still don’t understand why people are willing to shell out a lot of money for what looks like well-loved examples. The NA Miata’s a fantastic car, one that every enthusiast should own at one point in his or her lifetime. But prices have become absurd.
A few years ago, I bought my pretty-beat-up ’92 Miata with 150K miles on the clock for $1,800. After a quick search on eBay, the most affordable sports car with a manual gearbox is a ’92 with 207,338 miles on the clock that’s selling for $4,950. While that example looks to be in excellent condition, it’s a 26-year old car with over 200K miles on it. A few years ago, that would’ve cost around $2,500.
That’s not the craziest thing, though, as prices on eBay go all the way up to $14,995 for a ’97 with 79,786 miles. With a budget of $15,000, you can get much better cars and that’s coming from someone that loves the Miata.
They day I handed the keys over to the new buyer I knew I would regret the decision. Not because of how high prices have gotten now, but because I was letting go of a good car. I’m definitely going to buy another one down the road, but I won’t be spending a lick over $5,000.
If you’ve wanted to own a NA Miata, now’s a good time to purchase one, as prices will only continue to rise. But scour your local Craigslist ads because there are some good deals to be had out there. Seriously, though, please don’t pay more than $7,000 for a NA Miata, it’s kind of a crazy price.