My Christmas Wish: To Buy A Miata

For the past year I have been saving money so I can to purchase a new fun car for myself. I know I want to buy a Miata. However, I'm not sure if I should go for the old school original NA, the becoming old school NB, the current NC, or maybe wait and use the money for a down payment on an ND. I want to avoid having a car loan and making payments which may rule out the ND all together. Here is the criteria I have and thank you in advance for any help:

1) Budget for car is $6,000; distance does not matter, I would travel and drive home in the right car.

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2) I have jack stands a 2 ton floor jack and a full set of wrenches and tools and am comfortable turning a wrench, although anything related to engine or transmission work gives me pause.

3) I had a VW Cabriolet in college with a manual and loved it until the frame rust got the better of the car and I had to let her go. So, since this is a new fun car I am obviously looking to get another manual.

4) I daily drive a 2011 Ford Fusion that is paid off so the Miata will be my fun weekend and evening cruise car.

5) I recently was followed on Kinja by Bill Caswell and his story has inspired me to maybe get in to auto-cross, rallying, and racing. A good Miata in my driveway could lead to bigger and better things.

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6) What kind of things should I look for and avoid on the NA, NB and NC?

7) What are some problem areas for these cars?

8) How much does high mileage matter? (What is "high mileage" for an NA?)

9) Should I stay away from modified cars?

10) I know you gearhead boys on Oppositelock are a wealth of information and am looking forward to your advice and assistance.

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