The woolly hats and gloves are coming out of Shed's cupboard now as the mercury struggles to heave itself above single figures. Mrs Shed has taken up bee-keeping, which is an odd thing to do at this time of year. It's early days yet: she's only got around four dozen of the things so far, but they're quite active (if a little drowsy) considering the chilly weather. Shed is certainly looking forward to the warming effect of Mrs Shed's 48 bees wobbling around his head.
Another weird thing to do at this time of year is to sell MX-5s, but here we have not one but two tempting variations on the theme: a solid looking Mk 2.5, and a modded Mk1 that you can drive to the track, on the track and, with luck, away from the track.
Ten years elapsed between the manufacture of these two cars, but there's only around 4,000 miles difference between them now. Both had MOTs within a week of each other - end of July for the Mk1 and the beginning of August for the Mk2 - so you'd like to think there's a good amount of angst-free motoring to be had from either.
The nature of the motoring might be quite different, though, depending on your choice. Let's start with the red 'triple light' front end Mk 2.5. For Shed this is the best MX-5 iteration in terms of appearance, driveability and affordability. Admittedly, he is biased, having owned a couple himself and is indeed still running one to this day. The 144hp 1.8 is the engine to have: tick that box. This one isn't a slippy diff model but it does have adjustable suspension and a good quality exhaust system. You could trackday it and it would provide plenty of fun until the brakes caved in - but if you think circuits are your natural home and that you simply haven't been talent-spotted yet, you may find yourself being drawn towards the blue Mk 1.
This one has adjustable suspension too, and a full stainless exhaust. It's £99 more than the 2.5, but then it does come with a £600 roll bar and strut brace - and it's a Mk 1, so has more 'classic value'. On the downside it will need its sills sorting at some point as the tester spotted corrosion on the offside rear. It also had a corroded rear brake pipe, which is Joe Normal for any car of this age. Inner edge tyre wear is another entirely typical MX-5 thing and can usually be easily fixed by your friendly neighbourhood trackman.
Shed had the exact same problem on his MX-5. It was mended by one of the big chains after he'd had four new Avons put on. Unfortunately, in the course of the wheel alignment process they introduced a jaunty new angle to the steering wheel so that it now points slightly to the right even when going along in a straight-ahead type fashion. Not as much as the angle of the blue MX-5's wheel in the pic, but just enough to drive you a little bit bonkers.
The Mk2 has had its sills done, so its advisories were focused on a traditional weak area for MX-5s, the whirly bits at the back. The next owner will want to book it into their local garage soon for some new rear wheel bearings and discs, and Shed will be a monkey's uncle if, while they're doing that, they find that the calipers are in perfect nick.
So, decision time: which one to have? The question you've got to ask yourself is, do you feel lucky? If you fancy the idea of going racing on a budget, you could do a lot worse than put your money on blue. It would be a great starter car. The BRSCC runs a MX-5 SuperCup championship at the UK's big-name tracks with three races at eight weekend events from March to October. You can race your Mk 1 in that, as long as you're 'deemed suitable' by the BRSCC and can front up the £300 registration fee and the £405 per race entry fee. Even bargain basement motorsport isn't cheap. There's no dedicated Mk 2 series as yet.
Alternatively, you could enter the MSV Track Day Trophy series, which is defined as 'an affordable step into circuit racing for track day specialists' and which will rush you around £2,400 for a full season's entry. Or you could just do what most people do and go trackdaying, which will cost you between £99 and £199 in the UK at tracks like Anglesey, Croft, Bedford, Snetterton, Brands, Lydden Hill, Thruxton and Cadwell. As long as your car comes under the noise limit and you book up in time, you're in. Sounds like a Shedman sort of thing. And you don't need to bring along any human ballast.