Mazda MX-5 Mk1 California

Exclusivity

Around 400,000 of these MX-5 Mk1s were sold across the globe, an astonishing number and by far the highest of any car we’ve ever reviewed. So how can it possibly be classed as exclusive? The truth is that there aren’t too many factory original Mk1s around nowadays; many have been neglected and rusted away, and many others have been modified beyond recognition, so you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled to find one that’s worthy of your money.

Looks

The classic British sports car shape from a Japanese manufacturer; it sits low to the ground, has attractive lines, and pop-up headlights at the front. The Japanese absolutely nailed it with the MX-5 design, and we haven’t seen much change with later generations over the 28 years since it was launched. If you ever needed proof that a design was popular, this is it.

Maintenance Costs

A very basic car which makes maintenance costs today relatively affordable. The engine and gearbox have stood the test of time, and if you pick one up with 100,000 miles on the clock you can consider it still in its prime. There’s a wealth of parts out there, and many fixes can be done by the owner (even with little experience). Corrosion is the biggest threat to the Mk1s today; the sills and rear wheel arches will rust, and it’s likely that cars which have been driven on salty British roads for any length of time will need to be treated before it’s too late.

Price When New

Part of the MX-5’s appeal was (and still is) being an affordable way to own a fun sports car. They were around £14,000 from new, and today you can pick up decent examples for less than £3k. An incredible bargain from new, and they remain so now!

Cult Following

At every classic car show you can rest assured that there will be representatives from the MX-5 community. These cars have a massive following globally, and rightly so. The UK-based MX-5 Owners Club is the world’s largest MX-5 club with over 7,000 members, and they arrange regular national and international events.

Game Changer?

Absolutely. The Mk1 MX-5 signifies the start of a revolution – when the Japanese brought the roadster fight to the Europeans, and won quite convincingly. There have now been more than one million MX-5s sold since its launch in 1989. It is quite simply the best-selling roadster of all time.

Time to Buy?

Prices are slowly creeping up, but are still incredibly reasonable. You can find nice examples for less than £3k, which makes this an absolute steal in our book. If you’re looking for an investment car make sure it’s in original factory condition, which many aren’t. A number of cars you’ll see up for sale will be Eunos Roadster imports, which can be identified by the square rear number plate and the speedo in KPH. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean you’ll need to look that little bit closer at the history folder.

Verdict

We had so much fun with the MX-5, and for the price they’re currently selling for you really can’t go wrong. Maintenance won’t break the bank, and you can use it all year round if you protect yourself against rust. These cars will easily do 200,000 miles if looked after properly, and don’t underestimate the pleasure you’ll have in the summer with the roof down. They’re an absolute blast on country roads and in the town, so if you’re in the market for an affordable, investable roadster then this is definitely the one for you.

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