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Voodoo Magic and Fuzzy Math (Part 2)

This is the continuation of an essay I wrote and published on my blog back in December 2018. In it, I describe the interesting circumstances and the decision to trade in my daily driver for a Mazda Miata Shinsen.

You can find Part 1 here.



The 2003 Special Edition Miatas. In the back is the Shinsen Version, of which only 1451 were built for the American Market according to Jalopnik.
The 2003 Special Edition Miatas. In the back is the Shinsen Version, of which only 1451 were built for the American Market according to Jalopnik.
Photo: Mazda (Car and Driver)

Let me clarify what a Shinsen Miata is:

In 2003, Mazda created a special version of the Miata that was slotted under the Special Edition model. Named “Shinsen” (meaning “New and Fresh”), this new version was intended to attract younger buyers to the brand with a myriad of interesting features:

  • Titanium Gray Metallic Paint (used on the 2002 SE, and the later NB Mazdaspeed Miata).
  • Unique Navy Blue Cloth top, Navy Blue Cloth bucket seats, Navy Blue door inserts, two-tone Navy Blue/Black leather-wrapped shifter knob, embroidered floor mats, and aluminum trim.
  • Leather-wrapped Nardi Torino steering wheel.
  • Special Edition white-face gauges
  • Convenience Package, including a heated glass rear window, electric windows, tweeters, fog lamps, power locks, cruise control, and keyless entry.
  • A 1.8L 142hp engine mated to a 5-speed gearbox and a Tochigi-Fuji Limited-Slip Differential.
  • Optional appearance packages, including the front air dam extension, side skirts, mudguards, front, and tail light covers, and a rear deck spoiler.

Mazda intended to sell 1,600 Shinsen Miatas, however other sources say just over 1,400 were built. Additionally, the Shinsen was only offered for the 2003 model year. In other words, the Shinsen Miata is a rare and beautiful beast! You can imagine how skeptical I was when Michael sent the Craigslist ad to me. He assured me though:

It’s legit man. The seller’s on the forums I belong to and he posted about it there. This car is perfect for you! I even test-drove it. It drives better than mine!


Now I was in trouble.

I wanted something that was more practical than a rare entry-level sports car, but something like this barely comes up anywhere. Who wouldn’t want to own a car like this? Michael and I had made arrangements to see the car the same weekend I chose to bring the Rogue to a dealership to get it inspected and appraised. A test drive couldn’t hurt, right? After all, I was planning on selling the Rogue on Craigslist or AutoTrader anyway. Michael however, was so confident that I would love the Miata so much, he even promised to front the cash so I could pay him back when I eventually sold the Rogue.


“Oh god.” I thought to myself. What was I about to get into?


Although this example is much worse than what my CV Boots actually looked like, both boots in the Rogue were leaking fluid.
Although this example is much worse than what my CV Boots actually looked like, both boots in the Rogue were leaking fluid.

I was staring up under the Rogue with a technician after a detailed inspection. I was pretty confident that the Rogue needed work since I was putting so many miles on it. However, I wasn’t prepared for the actual amount of work needed to bring the thing to a safe drivable state. The look on the technician’s face should have told me what I was in for. That, or the fact that as soon as I looked up under the car, a glob of a yet-identified fluid fell and hit me just under my good eye. The technician brought to my attention the transaxle and showed me the CV boots leaking fluid (oh shit). The boots were shot and spewing fluid, which meant that the whole transaxle would have to come out and be inspected (oh SHIT!). That would be a $2,000 repair if the transaxle would have to be replaced, not counting labor.

To add insult to injury, the rear brake rotors needed to be replaced, the bushings were all shot, and there was an unknown fluid leak in the engine; likely the culprit behind the face-soiling. Then came the final shock: The shop had quoted me $4,000 total for the repairs. The Kelly Blue Book Value of my car was rated at around $4,000 for a Good condition Rogue. At best, the Rogue was in Fair condition, but thankfully, I never told the shop about the CVT issues. If I were going to trade it in I would have to get KBB for it, otherwise, my next best bet would be to keep driving the car until I raised enough funds to repair the issues and try trading it in again. Clearly, that wasn’t an option, because I had to pay the rent and I like fast food too much.


Ultimately, my decision boiled down to two things: Do I decide to keep the Rogue and attempt to repair what I can with whatever funds I could muster, knowing that at any time the transaxle could fail or the CVT could leave me stranded? Or, do I bite the bullet and trade the Rogue in right then and there, and use the check to buy the Shinsen Miata? I looked up at the undercarriage of my Rogue and felt a sudden pang of guilt. Despite all of its issues, the Rogue survived two moves, a career change, several adventures to Laguna Seca, one Hit-and-Run, and four years of driving in the Bay Area. It was my Rogue after all.

Then, a glob of axle fluid falls onto my face. I wasn’t sad anymore. I looked over to the salesmen with the glob still dripping down my face and said: “Ok, let’s make a deal.


End of Part 2

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