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Do it now I'll do it later...
Monday 31st January 2011


MAZDA EUNOS ROADSTER - TOO CHEAP NOT TO?

Open Season heralds rare 'money where mouth is' moment...


You'll hear people banging on about how you can pick up a usable Mk1 MX-5 for little more than a grand. People like me, indeed. Can you really though? Open Season and an unexpected Christmas windfall collided head-on, and all of a sudden I found myself in a position to put the theory to the test.

I've been here before though. I helped my brother buy his Mk1. I helped a mate into his smart silver Mk2 Sport. I even managed to convince my mum to buy one, though she immediately rumbled my motives and vowed I'd on no account get anywhere near the driver's seat. But with a cheque burning in my pocket, a 'casual' toe dipped into the mid-winter soft-top market soon became a headlong dive with evenings spent hammering the classifieds.


It seems PHers have a taste for cheap MX-5s too, as a couple of appealing looking ones in my sub-£2K bracket sold annoyingly quickly via the PH classifieds before I could get over and see them. Then I spotted a couple of candidates at an import specialist I pass every day on my route to work. One, a silver Eunos at £1,495, looked especially promising.

They say you shouldn't buy the first car you look at. Especially if you look at it in the rain. Nor should you go anywhere near a car with no history. (Slightly less well known but also important, is the caveat that you shouldn't spend money given to you by your mother on a car, when under strict instructions not to spend it on a car...) Still, fool on the vendor for not advertising this Eunos on PH too. He'd had it sitting on his forecourt for three months and talking him down to £1,250 was easy, even with my uncomfortable approach to haggling.


So after breaking all those golden rules I am now living the Eunos/MX-5 dream I've sold so hard to family, friends and readers. And what can you really get for (just over) a grand? Well, in my case a bog-standard 1993 Eunos Roadster with the original 1.6-litre engine, no service history, a claimed 108,000km and - thankfully - no significant rust under the sills or rear arches. I've also got a daft rear wing and, more appealingly, a viscous LSD and frankly rubbish Tiga tyres. Rrrrr.

Downsides? Well, it appears to have had a rear-end shunt and a post-purchase underbody inspection (probably should have done this before laying down the cash...) reveals where a new rear section has been welded on. But it seems to have been done early enough in the car's life that it was worthwhile doing properly, so I'm not too worried about that.


A 'too cheap not to' purchase price is one thing though - can you really have a PH-worthy Mazda for the price of a set of tyres for a Nissan GT-R? And will it, hand on heart, be more fun as I may have (on occasion), rather boldly claimed?

Well I've already spent £350 on a service covering all the vital fluids and filters in the engine, gearbox, diff and brakes (plus braided lines) at an appealingly old-school local garage, and am now weighing up the possibility of - with help - tackling the cambelt myself. That and a first round of internet shopping for a cheapo eBay strut brace, stick-on number plate (stuck on wonky - another one on the way to replace it), replacement gearstick gaiter and centre console cubby hole are already pushing the total towards two grand. I suspect MX-5 Parts are going to be enjoying my custom over the coming months...


A limited mileage policy with four days' free track cover and mod-friendly attitude came in at £350 from REIS, and I'm ready to roll.

First impressions? Well, it's not fast. Not even nearly. But the Tigas and wet winter roads are an entertaining combination, even if the dampers feel decidedly tired. Next step? Negotiations with new friends Bilstein, whose hospitality I enjoyed on my trip to the Essen show last year. I think I'd like to get a roll bar of some sort fitted too and am currently considering my options there. And then there's the all important question of which exhaust to buy.

An MX-5 for a grand? Well, it's close enough for PH, isn't it..?





Author: Dan Trent