Mazda Eunos Roadster - too cheap not to?


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..?





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Comments (102) Join the discussion on the forum

  • bozzy101 07 Oct 2012

    I paid £2000 for my K reg V spec, kept it for 18 months and then sold it for £2000. Happy days!

  • Dift 04 Feb 2011

    I came from a Honda powered Elise which had every box ticked. Massively fast, extremely capable... But needs meant it had to go. Bought a "cheap" mk2 mx5, threw some coilovers on, with a decent geo... And Im really enjoy it. I'm not really missing the speed/power of the Elise at the moment. I've even started on the slippy slope of modifying it too. frown

    Very enjoyable car, and for me, right now, perfect.

  • GravelBen 04 Feb 2011

    heebeegeetee said:
    Which is why i don't necessarily think it's a good thing that cars like the MX5 have adjustable suspension, i would rather they didn't and that the cars were set right from when they leave the factory.
    The thing is that every time it takes a good bump from a pothole things can get knocked a bit out of kilter regardless, but having the adjustability lets you return it to the way it should be.

    I love the adjustability personally, for the cost of an alignment you can significantly change the feel and behaviour of the car to suit your driving style and intended use - being set from the factory they would have to go for a more conservative, understeery setup than many of us like.

  • heebeegeetee 04 Feb 2011

    Digby said:
    heebeegeetee said:
    I guess I'm starting to sound like an evangelist about this but... It's not that the car is over-rated or that everyone who raves about these cars is wrong, it's that you didn't get your geometry done.

    The car has wishbone suspension all round and nigh on fully adjustable suspension (except for ride height and castor on the rear IIRC), but if the geo is out it becomes just another ordinary car to drive.
    Or he simply had a doggy one? Mine borders on the fun levels my Westfield offered and it sat with far more expensive and quicker machines on a run a while back.If you can't fall in love with a decent MX-5, you may aswell give up driving and take the bus! hehe

    There are plenty of people who have had things like Caterhams and atoms and will still agree they are a massive hoot!
    I would like more straight line performance I must admit, but it doesn't take anything away from the car and if the roads are right, it's bonkers fast at covering ground.
    Agreed. Thing is though, my car was 7 years old and had had 4 owners when i bought it, but it (and many other MX5s) had had the wrong wheels fitted to it by the uk importer and i honestly don't think the geo had ever been done.

    So there's seven years of ownership experience by people who had not enjoyed anything at all of what makes a 5 special, but they will of course, still to this day, offer their view of MX5 ownership based on their experience.

    Which is why i don't necessarily think it's a good thing that cars like the MX5 have adjustable suspension, i would rather they didn't and that the cars were set right from when they leave the factory.

    This especially applies to the UK where it can be very difficult to have things done properly.

  • Digby 03 Feb 2011

    heebeegeetee said:
    I guess I'm starting to sound like an evangelist about this but... It's not that the car is over-rated or that everyone who raves about these cars is wrong, it's that you didn't get your geometry done.

    The car has wishbone suspension all round and nigh on fully adjustable suspension (except for ride height and castor on the rear IIRC), but if the geo is out it becomes just another ordinary car to drive.
    Or he simply had a doggy one? Mine borders on the fun levels my Westfield offered and it sat with far more expensive and quicker machines on a run a while back.If you can't fall in love with a decent MX-5, you may aswell give up driving and take the bus! hehe

    There are plenty of people who have had things like Caterhams and atoms and will still agree they are a massive hoot!
    I would like more straight line performance I must admit, but it doesn't take anything away from the car and if the roads are right, it's bonkers fast at covering ground.


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