Went and saw it: top and seats were ripped, it had been in a “low-speed” crash and had a front quarter replaced, brakes pulled to one side, and there was a weird metallic buzzing from the front of the car at specific RPMs : (
The main thing that sketched me out was the dude selling it. Super nice guy and really honest once we talked in person, but the vibe I got was that he had no real interest in the Miata apart from it being a source of funding for his project Jeep Wrangler. You could tell it was just a possession to him, not something he had personally lovingly and meticulously maintained over the years which, if I’m buying an ‘enthusiast’ car with no service records, is what I was looking for. He had apparently inherited it from his dad who did all the work on the car himself but had no receipts or records or anything so I didn’t even bother to ask when stuff like the timing belt and brakes had last been replaced because the dude clearly had no idea about... well, anything. For all I know the car is perfectly fine and would go years with no problems whatsoever, but I’d still want to preemptively replace all the problem areas just to be safe, which is honestly more work than I’m willing to put into a car this time around.
Weirdly I was also a bit let down by the driving experience. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a Miata so it was great, but I guess the Internet has hyped up Miatas so much that maybe I went in with too high of expectations. Honestly it felt negligibly better than my Focus (around town at least, there were no curvy roads within a half hour’s drive so take that as you will). Few hundred pounds lighter with a shorter shifter and RWD sure, but not so far off that I walked away feeling like I had missed out on something when I was car-shopping 7 years ago. I was honestly worried that it’d be so good I’d do the same thing as when I bought my Focus and I would either impulsively buy it because I *had* to have it, or not buy it but always have the “one that got away” regret in the back of my head that I passed on such an incredible car. That being said I now know for sure I want a Miata and could live with one no problem (highway wind noise and cramped interior and all), it’d just have to be a better one for me.
Again thanks to everyone who responded to my previous post; I certainly didn’t expect 70 comments and 3.5k views but the information and stories you guys shared were invaluable in helping me decide to see the car, and then also know when to walk away. I sincerely appreciate the responses : )