The car was as beautiful as the ad suggested and I had a hard time being picky about any of it. There were a couple of little things here and there but not enough to worry me. Just little scrapes and dents, but very minor. No sun damage, the car obviously being garaged most of its life in Socal. The only concern was a small rust bubble on the hood, likely from a rock chip. Certainly in great condition and worth the asking price if the mechanicals matched up..
Unfortunately the mechanicals did not match up for me. While sure everything in a Miata is fixable, there were enough concerning factors for me to not be flexible on my offer. First, the timing belt is confirmed to be old. This owner bought it at 84k and has not done it with the car now sitting at 133k. Seeing as Mazda says every 60k for this job, it’s well overdue. Then the radiator is cracked and brown as hell and plenty of other stuff is overdue. Diff and gear oil are original, oil has been conventional only the whole life, and the valve cover leaks quite a bit of oil visually. The bigger problem though was the test drive. It felt a little slow compared to my own 2001 Miata and it had a minor stumble when accelerating intermittently. Considering the deferred maintenance, I wasn’t surprised but it was concerning enough that I wouldn’t buy the car without a PPI by a mechanic to sort out what’s wrong. I still gave an offer of $4500 (with the intent of PPI before committing the money) but he said no anyways.
The more I think about it, I am somewhat glad just because of the work needed and the concerning stumble. I can’t really guess what it was. Maybe spark plugs? But it could have also been a clutch slip or and electrical fault. But most electrical stuff should throw a code. Anyways, I’ll continue shopping but I’m not in a rush right now. I’m going to be gone the entire month of January and most of February. Then I’ll probably be often on work travel after that. So I don’t particularly need a second car right away right now.
Will keep the search going as I can! Looking at a ‘97 ad currently, so I'm also thinking about an NA.