Shed Of The Week: Mazda Eunos V Special

A couple of months ago, PHer Digby told us about his latest acquisition, a 1988 Honda Acty or, as he described it, "550cc of annoyingly slow awesomeness". Offering 55mph flat out and a highly undesirable NCAP crash rating, this tiny pickup immediately stole the hearts of other wistful PHers who wished they'd seen it before Digby did.

1.6 rather than 1.8, but what about that misfire?
1.6 rather than 1.8, but what about that misfire?
Shed thought he might be able to give them some good news when he found this sweet Acty in the PH classifieds. Sadly, halfway through the write-up (grrr!) he discovered that the MoT ran out in January. Boo!

Luckily there was a strong backup in the form of this highly original Mk1 NA MX-5.

This one is a Japanese-market V Special, which means it has the limited-slip diff as well as a lot of other good Eunos-y stuff like leather, power steering, electric windows, CD player, leccy aerial and air-con, which doesn't work in this case - oh dear, quelle surprise etc.

The V Specials could be had with 114hp 1.6 or 130hp 1.8 engines. This one is a 1.6, which means you lose a bit of mid-range grunt but not so much as to make you want to throw yourself off a cliff. The fact that it's a pre-cat model helps. Fitting an LSD to such an inoffensive little car might seem like over-engineering, but it's not something that's going to detract from the performance so let's not complain about it.

Blimey, hood looks pretty good...
Blimey, hood looks pretty good...
Mazda called this paint colour Neo Green. The rest of us call it British Racing Green. Imagine how nice it would be after a mop. It's a cool blend with the tan leather seats and the wood-rimmed Nardi steering wheel and veneer dash panels. We can't see the handbrake, but that should have a wooden handle too. Unlike the sweet Minilite-alike seven-spoke alloys, the wooden gearknob doesn't look original, but it's controlling a manual gearbox rather than an auto, so a tick there. Seemingly this car doesn't have the electric mirrors that came along later, another handy absence for an easy life.

The V Specs had tan or black hoods, so the faded black one that's on here is either the original one, which would be some sort of miracle and a bit unlikely given the clarity of the rear screen, or a replacement item. The sills have obviously been replaced too and the vendor is telling us that the MOT man found no evidence of rust. The pic of the underside is pretty reassuring in that regard. Naturally, there's no such thing as a totally rust-free NA MX-5, but if you don't fancy paying many thousands for a fully-restored example this car has all the makings of a very sound starter for further primping at your leisure.

The last two MOT men have mistakenly put the mileage as miles when they should have put kilometers. As of May it had done 225,000km, which is nearer to 140,000 miles than the 130,000 the vendor mentions in his ad. Still, condition is everything and, rust-prone bodywork aside, the MX-5 motors are about as bulletproof as you can get.

... and the sills do as well - result!
... and the sills do as well - result!
The seller does very honestly tell us about a misfire that has recently popped up. That's unlikely to be anything much. Given its age, it could be just a loose or worn cable, or an earthing problem, or a duff HT lead - a common MX-5 problem. So is water collecting in the plug wells. As stated, nothing too disastrous and all very fixable.

Some folk reckon that the Mk1s feel a bit gritty to drive. Others like that sort of rawness. All we know is that the stock of Mk1s is dwindling. The stock of solid MoT'd Mk1s is even smaller. And the stock of MoT'd V Specials is smaller than that. At under a grand you literally cannot lose money on it.

Here's the ad

Mazda MX5 Mk1 Eunos V Special Roadster 1992 BRG and Tan leather.
The one to have, the early model, more pure, and the much better Japanese spec, quicker with a LSD and other nice features.
Totally original. MOT until May 2018 with no advisories.
Average miles, 130,000 which works out about 5200 a year as it is 25 years old. Mechanically it is spot on. Drives great with no rattles or clunks, all feels nice and tight, brakes, clutch, gearbox, all works superbly.
Only mechanical item not working is the air conditioning, it switches on and off as expected but doesn't cool air much if at all. The upgraded radio has Bluetooth to automatically pair to you phone and play music.
Soft top is very good, a few marks above drivers door but all watertight with a clear and uncracked rear window.
Interior is excellent, very clean. Leather is in great condition. It looks like the drivers seat has been repaired but it's been very well done.
It has been painted in the past, the original colour, but it's a bit flat and would certainly benefit from a cut and polish. I see no evidence of rust and more importantly neither did the MOT man but can't promise there isn't any - however it all looks clean underneath (see photos) and there is evidence of wax treatment.
Unusually, (apart from the radio and bonnet badge) it is totally original and I think all the better for that. It is of course the original and unmodified versions of these that are increasing in value.
Excellent tyres, Dunlop back, Maxxis front, not rubbish Chinese ditch finders !
Some history and receipts, lots of old MOTs. Reason for sale, I have lots of other cars and am just not using it enough and I would like the garage space back later in the year.
It is taxed and insured. Insurance is ridiculously cheap, £75 a year. Parts are also much less than you would expect. That, and the fact prices are rising and the sun is shining means there really has never been a better time to own one of the most fun cars on the road ! £1750

Update, new price £999 !
Well, I went for a longer drive last night, first time this year over 10 miles, and discovered a problem. After about 15 miles it developed a slight misfire and temperature started to rise. By then I was nearly home so continued, the misfire was only under acceleration and the temperature gauge only went to about 3/4 (it didn't boil) but it's not been more than half way before. It was hot yesterday but again not silly hot, I think about 28c.

This morning all seems fine again so no sign of anything wrong. Oil and coolant are to level and all looks fine. However I don't have time to investigate, decision has been made to sell it and so it just needs to be gone, hence new bargain price.
Would it get you home ? Frankly I don't know, it was great for the first 10 miles last night, it hasn't been used much in the last year and so maybe it was something caused by that which has now resolved itself.
I'm sure some sellers wouldn't say anything and you would never tell on a test drive but I want to be completely honest about it. I'd say a trailer would be a better option.
I have a friend who might be able to deliver by trailer up to about 100 miles but would need to check and it would only be after you've seen the car and paid in full.



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Comments (58) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Brompty 14 Jul 2017

    Yes - great potential here. As stated, rust is such a problem that it can write these cars off, but the engine issues are fixable. Good shed.

  • Numeric 14 Jul 2017

    Quite honestly the most scrupulously truthful seller of a car I have ever come across - to my shame I would have kept quiet and hoped to get away with it so I shall spend the rest of the day being nice to everybody to make up for my clear failures!!

  • helix402 14 Jul 2017

    Overheating and misfire could be head gasket failure.

  • g7jhp 14 Jul 2017

    "Nardi steering wheel and veneer dash panels. We can't see the handbrake, but that should have a wooden handle too. Unlike the sweet Minilite-alike seven-spoke alloys, the wooden gearknob doesn't look original."

    Gearknob looks original Nardi to me.

  • TristPerrin 14 Jul 2017

    As the article says, probably an HT lead. I think the 1.6s can also suffer from oil leaking into the plugs so might need a new cam cover gasket. Both rediculously easy jobs. (In fact most things are very easy on an MX-5)

    Seems like a decent deal even if it is a 1.6.

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