What to Buy: 1990–97 Mazda MX-5 Miata

From the November 2021 situation of Car or truck and Driver.

The initially-gen Mazda Miata—known as the NA to the cognoscenti—strikes an excellent stability among classic really feel and present day dependability, and collectors have taken recognize. Light and keen, the Miata is blessed with in the vicinity of-ideal steering, a wrist-flick shifter, textbook handling, and an straightforward-to-fall major, all of which mix to flip a boring generate to the grocery retail outlet into a qualifying lap. Consider a Torsen limited-slip differential a need to-have. Usually, it’s definitely a tossup in between the 1.6- and 1.8-liter engines. The 1.8-liter is about a 50 %-second quicker to 60, but the smaller sized motor is just a tiny bit smoother.

“For the cash, the Miata provides an overload of the kind of pure, unadulterated sporting activities-motor vehicle enjoyment that turned all but extinct twenty decades in the past.” —Arthur St. Antoine, C/D, September 1989

John RoeVehicle and Driver


Early Miatas (1990–93) have a 116-hp 1.6-liter four that revs joyfully all the way to its 7000-rpm redline, which is very good simply because the torque peak of 100 pound-feet is at 5500 rpm. All Miata engines are fairly tough, and if the timing belt snaps, no destruction occurs. But the so-called tiny-nose-crank engines from 1990–91 will kill themselves if the crank bolt isn’t mounted just proper. A 128-hp 1.8-liter arrived in 1994 with a taller closing push (4.10:1 to a 4.30) that decreases revs at highway speeds.

Problem Regions

Apart from the opportunity problems with the little-nose-crank engines, the powertrain is sturdy and when un­molested will get to 200,000 miles with straightforward maintenance. Glimpse for rust in the fenders, rocker panels, and doors. Parts, even body sections, are economical and uncomplicated to locate. Enjoy out for suspension and motor modifications, except if they’re what you want.

1990 mazda mx5 miata

John RoeAutomobile and Driver


Just a several a long time in the past, $7500 was more than enough to land a reduced-mileage product puff, but costs are climbing. Today $7500 purchases a thoroughly clean 100,000-mile car or truck. Anticipate to spend a top quality for rarer versions these kinds of as the British Racing Inexperienced Particular Edition from ’91, the ’92 Sunburst Yellow autos, the monitor-focused ’94–97 R-bundle vehicles, and M Editions. A $10,000 price range will net a wonderful 50,000-mile automobile, but invest just a few grand more and the mileage drops considerably.



1990 Mazda MX-5 Miata

116-hp 1.6-liter I-4, 2210 lb
C/D Situation: September 1989
60 mph: 9.2 sec
1/4-Mile: 16.8 sec @ 83 mph
100 mph: 28.4 sec
Major Speed: 116 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 195 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: .82 g
Acceleration moments adhere to our aged rollout rule of 3 mph.

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