First a quick-and-dirty (literally, I hadn't even washed it yet) snapshot. . .
This one was made in May 1998, but it's a 1999 year model with 67,000 miles. That makes it an early second-generation car (or NB1 to Miata fans).
This is not some random Miata. I searched for a couple of weeks before I found exactly what I wanted -- mostly one without all the options I didn't want, like the sport suspension, a bunch of owner mods, or those ugly "tupperware" body panels a lot of dealers bolted on. Also the mileage is considerably lower than the 12,000 mi/yr average for US cars. These cars are not uncommonly good for 200,000 miles if properly maintained and not abused, so it's got plenty of life left.
It appears to run good. Even so, I've got a long list of little things that need attention on the car. Considering it cost me all of $6,900, I think I can afford to fix it up the way I want it.
One big advantage for this car is that it's about as complicated as a block of wood. I mean, there's the straight-4 up front, where it belongs, and there's a manual gearbox, and it drives the rear wheels. Anybody who's ever worked on a Model A Ford would be familiar with this layout. The local mechanics here in my town -- within walking distance -- can work on it, as compared with shipping my Esprit 120 miles to the Lotus dealership. I could even work on it.
Compared with the Esprit that I've owned for the last three years, this car obviously lacks the addictive, rumbling, always-eager power of the twin-turbo V8. Instead the MX-5 has more of a squirrel-and-treadmill affair under the hood: a normally aspirated 1.8L straight-4. So I've gone from 350 HP to more like 140 HP.
The Esprit was fun to drive fast. The Miata, with the top down, is an entirely different experience. It's much more fun to drive around town, and drive at moderate speeds. I can hear the rear tires when they grab! The shifter is excellent too. At the same time it's only 2,300 pounds, so it's something like 800 pounds lighter than the Esprit, and it feels peppy.