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1997 (NA- First Gen) Mazda MX5 Miata

1997 (NA- First Gen) Mazda MX5 Miata

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Details

Price: SOLD

Mileage: 74,300 Miles

Engine: 1.8-Liter Dual Overhead Camshaft 4-Cylinder BP Engine

Transmission: 5-Speed Manual Transmission

Exterior color: Classic Red Exterior (SU)

Interior: Black Cloth Interior

Additional features:

Matching Factory Hardtop

Excellent Soft Top

Racing Beat High-Flow Performance Intake

K&N Cone Air Filter

16-Inch Rage Racing Star Wheels

Yokohama AVID H4S Tires

Colorado Car

Last and Best Year of the 1st Generation Miata

Background

1997 (NA- First Gen) Mazda MX5 Miata exterior photo

It is convertible season in Colorado! This may seem counterintuitive, but fall through spring is the time to have a convertible in Colorado. Golden fall days, mild winter weeks between storms, and glorious spring days are the best top-down motoring opportunities our state offers. For the times when you don’t want the top down, this example’s matching factory hardtop makes things more civilized

Here it is folks—a fine example of the first-generation Mazda MX5, known in the US as the Miata. Introduced in 1989 for the 1990 model year, the NA generation Mazda Miata was a motoring purist’s dream. It captured the experience, character, and soul of the great European roadsters with none of their drawbacks, like Lucas electronics—the Prince of Darkness—questionable mechanical reliability, and sheet metal that would literally rust the minute your tears hit it from crying while stranded on the side of the road. Get behind the wheel of a first-gen Miata and you become David in a world of Goliaths—large sedans, crossovers, and SUV’s lumbering along in constant conflict with the Laws of Physics. The Miata is what a proper sports car should be: light, tosssable, communicative, well-balanced, predictable, rear wheel drive, and because it’s a Mazda—reliable. The driving experience is undiluted by the epidemic of size, weight, infotainment, and over-complication that has overtaken modern automotive design. 1997 was the last year of the first-gen Miata. By then it had undergone two revisions resulting in a significantly stiffer chassis due to stronger front and rear subframes and a lateral track bar behind the seats for side impact requirements. It also featured the more powerful 1.8-liter engine, producing 133 horsepower—that in a car that weighing roughly 2000 pounds. The first-gen NA was the smallest, lightest, and best Miata in my opinion—the most Miata of all of the Miata’s. It was the only one with flip-up headlights. I love flip-up headlights!

Summary

 exterior photo

This 1997 Mazda Miata has spent its entire life in Colorado, accumulating a fraction of the miles most cars do. The previous owner had owned it since 2005 and used it sparingly—clearly it was a second car. It is outfitted very nicely with the highly desirable factory hard top, a very nice cloth top, a high-flow Racing Beat performance intake, and 16-inch Rage Racing Star Wheels. It was also outfitted with the purist’s choice “A Package” featuring power steering, a leather steering wheel, radio, and alloy wheels (which have been replaced by the Racing Star wheels). It retained cloth seats, manual windows, and no heavy, power-robbing air conditioning—that’s what the top is for! The paint and exterior are in excellent condition, but we do suspect it has been repainted at some point. This is not a bad thing as it was clearly a high quality paint job and it presents fantastically. In preparation for sale I changed the oil, replaced the coil packs, and replaced a faulty air bag control module. The Carfax is clean except for an odometer discrepancy that was clearly a clerical error. It shows incremental mileage accumulation with an erroneous odometer entry for what appears to be an annual detail at Gebhardt BMW in 2006 and again in 2007. Why this is even on the Carfax boggles me, but I would have been furious if I was the previous owner. The Carfax is available on our website if you are reading this elsewhere or can be emailed on request. Overall this is an excellent first-gen Miata that will make someone very happy.

Exterior

1997 (NA- First Gen) Mazda MX5 Miata exterior photo

I strive to thoroughly describe our cars good and bad. Classic Red is an excellent color for the Miata, especially with a matching hard top. The paint is in excellent condition. It looks to be a high quality re-spray that I would guess happened some time ago. It has withstood the test of time and is very presentable. The body is also in excellent shape and there is zero rust. All panels are original and all VIN tags are intact with the exception of the hood, which is a DOT-R replacement and a missing VIN tag on the left front fender. I have no clue why these were replaced, but other than hood stop height adjustments the car is completely straight. All panel gaps are even, the unibody is straight, and the front and rear subframes are straight. The only paint defects are a few very light paint chips on the leading edge of the hood and front valence. The hardtop paint is in good condition, but likely original and a slightly more UV faded than the rest of the paint. It’s not a glaring inconsistency and still very presentable. The hardtop design is excellent. It locks with four clasps and is light enough for one person to lift. The soft top is in good condition with no holes or failed stitching except for one small spot on the bottom of the glass rear window. The zip-up glass rear window is an excellent design that all convertibles of this vintage should have come with (ahem BMW Z3). The windshield is crack-free and un-pitted. All light lenses are intact and the flip-up headlights work on command. The 16-inch Rage Racing Star wheels are straight and true with no excessive curb rash. They are wrapped in Yokohama Avid H4s tires with over 75% tread remaining.

Interior

 interior photo

The interior is excellent condition. There are no odors and it has never been smoked in. The carpets are in good shape and have been protected by factory carpet floor mats (included with the sale). The leather steering wheel is soft and supple with no excessive wear. The dashboard, door cards, and center console material is in excellent shape. The seats have no rips, tears, excessive bolster wear, or failed stitching. The driver’s seat appears to be an early NA model seat with deeper seat bottom side bolsters, a desirable upgrade over the late-model NA seat. All interior functions work correctly. The fan blower works at all speeds and the heat blows warm. The radio is dated, but it operates correctly. The trunk carpet is clean, the factory jack is present, and the OEM spare tire is still wrapped in its leather cover. The original owners manual is still in its leather binder in the glove box. The only thing I had to do to the interior was pull the turn signal / high beam stalk and clean the high beam contacts (a common issue). The high beams now work on command.

Mechanical

 engine photo

The mechanical condition is as sorted as the interior and exterior. The 1.8-liter BP four-cylinder engine starts on command. It idles smoothly and pulls strong to redline. The high flow intake sounds glorious in the higher rev range while increasing performance. The clutch and shifter are crisp, as they should be. There is no driveline or wheel bearing whine or vibration. The suspension is firm and compliant; I suspect sport dampeners have been added. In preparation for sale we gave it a fresh oil change and replaced suspect coil packs. I also replaced a faulty airbag module. As it stands this is a turn-key Miata that is ready for many spirited drives by its new owner.