PH Fleet Update: Mazda Eunos Roadster

Eunos basks in blemish-free paint
Eunos basks in blemish-free paint

Mechanically the Eunos is now absolutely singing, the Performance5 suspension and stiffening chassis rails transforming it into a proper little weapon. A loud one too, thanks to the cast-off Moss exhaust from my brother.

Karen Brady, Lord Sugar and Nick Hewer. Wait...
Karen Brady, Lord Sugar and Nick Hewer. Wait...
There was no escaping it was looking, well, like a car approaching its 20th birthday, though. Nothing critical, apart from a slight paint mis-match on that replacement nose cone and a few little dings and scratches here and there. Disheartened by the response from a couple of bodyshops when I looked at getting the bumper resprayed I put it down to one of those things I'd have to live with.

Then I got chatting with the guys at Dent Wizard. For a car like this smart repair is just the ticket, dents and paint blemishes dealt with in a fraction of the time and expense of a 'proper' bodyshop job. Dent Wizard boss Phil Newstead suggested I bring the car up to the firm's training facility south of Birmingham and let his guys loose on it to see what they could do, this also being the headquarters of partner firms Wheel Wizard and Flying Colours.

Most of the work they do is out of the back of mobile, van-based workshops and their speciality is prepping cars for dealers and auction houses where Newstead boasts every pound spent on a car is worth a return of double that. Some of the work they do is pure magic as well, a Ford S-Max with a roof dent transformed from write-off to right as rain in just a couple of hours while I was there.

Arriving at the workshop head of training Darren and his team seemed a little disappointed that the Eunos didn't have more for them to do. A couple of 20p-sized dents on the bonnet, a nasty crease on the nearside wing and an assortment of scratches were all declared 'do-able' and wheel-man Adam took one look at the 14-inch alloys (yes, I'm still flitting between these and the 15-inch OZs) and declared his intention to do away with them.

My eBay nose-cone was the cause of much teeth-sucking however. Not only was the colour a shade darker than the rest of the car, but Darren also reckoned the crazing in the paint suggested it had had a wallop. "That'll need painting properly," was his assessment. Happily the now-spare original nose has now been sent up for the boys to work on at their leisure.

A methodical machine polish for the rest of the panels meanwhile showed how much the small swirls and scratches had dulled the finish, Darren saying oxidised red paint finishes show the most dramatic improvements. Following dent man Adrian around the car panel by panel, by the time the guys had finished the transformation was dramatic.

...and after
...and after
Adam was making swift progress with the wheels too and my long-held ambition for getting them painted black was, unexpectedly, about to be realised. Reunited and dropped off the axle stands we all stood back to admire their handiwork. "That looks well!" said Phil and I have to confess to being stunned with the results.

Okay, it's no concours queen and never will be. But given that the whole job would cost around the same as the £400-and-something quoted by a reluctant paintshop for doing the nose cone alone it proves there are viable ways of sprucing up cheap cars.

Dan's Eunos-ing is catching...
Dan's Eunos-ing is catching...
This is important too, given that my other brother has also taken the plunge. That's three Trent brothers and three Mk1 Mazdas, fraternal rivalry meaning there's real pressure to have the best of the bunch. Further competition comes from fellow motoring scribe John Simister who, on the back of driving my Performance5-equipped car, went out and picked up a sub-£1,000 Mariner Blue Eunos he's now busily 'de-chavving' (see right).

On the drive to pick John's new purchase up I was irritated by a noise from the nearside rear wheel that, once removed, revealed itself to be a worn out brake pad. Having these just a couple of thousand miles ago it looked like a sticky caliper - a common MX-5 problem.

Rear brake pads an easy fix
Rear brake pads an easy fix
Having ordered new pads and had a look I was relieved to find it was a rusty slider rather than a frozen piston. Cleaned up, lubricated and with the fresh pads installed it all seems fine now.

So much for the fettling and polishing - a car is meant for the driving and, in that curious way, on the way back from its makeover the little Mazda seemed in ruder health than ever. There's little fun to be had on the motorway though and rather than sit it out on the M40 I took in some of my favourite backroads linking through from Banbury to Silverstone and then along the fabulous A413 that runs from Buckingham to Aylesbury. Heater blasting, roof down I had one of those proper zen drives where every gearshift and steering input seems just-so, the exhaust cackling and gurgling with every lift and gearchange and P5 suspension proving its ability to let the Eunos corner harder without diluting the signature adjustability and feedback.

Eunos is great roof-down in the dusk
Eunos is great roof-down in the dusk
There's something very special about driving in the dark with the roof down and it's that ability to make even a dull drive back from Birmingham into something a bit special that transcends the Mazda's humble pricetag and lack of on-paper performance. This, and the fact that even in the dry the Tigars' hold on the tarmac is minimal enough to permit the odd dab of oppo, ensures that even when faster, more exotic metal is available it's hard to resist the temptation for a little blast in the Eunos.

Previous reports:
Slammed ride height, loud exhaust. Oh dear - has Dan's inner chav finally been let loose on the Eunos?

Plans for new springs and dampers have finally borne fruit, but not before Dan's driving comes under scrutiny to see if he's worthy...

Dan Trent's impulse purchase 'bargain' is sucking up an awful lot of money, but he still seems happy...

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

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (41) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Dommo 07 Nov 2011

    I bought one last year as a donor for a Westfield. As with most people, massively impressed by it. Didn't care about the image whilst driving it, even if whatever radio station I was listening to had an uncanny knack for playing lady gaga the second the roof went down. So much fun, everyone should have one at some point. I've certainly missed in these last few months. I should have bought another one as a daily driver.

  • carinaman 06 Nov 2011

    Thanks V8Will.

    I was behind a MX-5 on Friday. I am not sure how the 'Sniff my Diff' sticker on the rear bumper, the LSD sticker in the rear window sat with the dashboard mounted front numberplate. The twin pipes (one either side) looked good, but audibly very few four pots sound very interesting. Perhaps it gave off a nice yowl when given the beans but I just heard another four pot farty noise.

  • mcrdave 04 Nov 2011

    cwinterb said:
    I bought a '97 1.8 "Harvard" in July. Nice clean UK car with FSH, cost me £1800 with 70k on the clock. Bargain, I thought.

    Since then I hardly dare add up what I have spent.

    Full service, cam belt and water pump, clutch fluid change, synthetic gearbox and diff oil, various oil seals and had it undersealed. £700 to Dandycars.

    Then I had a backwards into a hedge moment. Got away with that one but invested in four new Avons and 4 wheel alignment. £450 to Elite in Dagenham.

    Then MX5 Parts and Autolink became my friends. I've fitted refurbished rear calipers, new handbrake cables, 4 new disks, EBC Greenstuff pads, new brake fluid and changed all the water hoses (including the inaccessible one under the inlet manifold) for silicone replacements after one sprouted a pinhole leak. Plus an MX5 parts electric window kit and an Alpine head unit and four Focal speakers. Probably another £1250 in bits, I must add up all the receipts.

    So, I reckon I am just over four grand in so far. Love it though. Went to see Phil from Performance 5s at his house the other Saturday for a suspension consultation. Currently waiting for a quote...
    I also bought a 97 Harvard last month! Spent a fair bit too, not that it needed it. Full service with CBS autos in Nelson (top guy who knows his mx's). 4 new Toyo T1Rs. Meister adjustable shocks all round. New speakers for the doors. Indiglo dials (not fitted yet). Still got plenty of change from selling my previous car a perfectly good all rounder Mini Cooper S. Just saw it (the mx) and felt 'the urge'! Loving it. Best 'downgrade' ever.

  • v8will 04 Nov 2011

    carinaman said:
    Do MX-5ers recommend going for one with or without an LSD?
    With. Providing it hasn't worn (viscous type) and reverted to open.

  • Black S2K 04 Nov 2011

    ally_f said:
    +1 ...I'm going to have to drag mine out of the garage and treat it to a wash and polish at the weekend (and then go for a blast!) I think the people who say they're overrated have only gone for a quick spin around town, the rattly, slow, uncomfortable little '5 is transformed the second you hit an empty B road.try it!
    Or think a good car is a VW TDS DSG on 20" rims.

    I had a couple of MX-5s and have ridden in one since; your -5 description is perfect!

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