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Old 11-08-2016, 01:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I'm buying* Canada's cheapest, roadworthy**, 50 mpg*** Mazda Miata MX-5



First, the asterisks:

1 *) I don't own it... yet. But I think I'm close!

[Update! I got it. Read on...]

I've been trying for several weeks to buy this 1990 Miata from a seller who is both hilariously and frustratingly laid back. Seems he doesn't like to rush things when it comes to communication. Think "island time" mentality. He works strange hours and will only talk by text messaging -- oh, and I happen to be the last person who doesn't own a cell phone, so friends and family have been acting as intermediaries.

Also, he doesn't need the money. Also, the car is out of sight, out of mind from his perspective (not parked at his house).

All these ingredients make this a recipe for slow going and for cultivating patience.

2 **) Ran when parked!

Roadworthy? Well, it's been sitting in a back yard for over a year. 2014 was the last time it saw daily driver status.

3 ***) 50 MPG??

EPA says: 22 city / 28 highway / 24 combined

But AntiochOG did it! 50 mpg! (1990 Mazda Miata)

The top 3 Miatas in EM's garage:

Fuelly shows a couple hundred owners of the early 1.6L cars are averaging 27 mpg US. Half a dozen owners of the 1.6L "NA" model report averages of 40-45 mpg.

So I'm guessing low-mid 40's is achievable, un-ecomodded, in my typical driving environment (my driving is mostly country roads, 80 km/h / 50 mph speed limit). And of course it won't remain un-ecomodded for long.

4) The car:
  • 1990 Mazda Miata MX-5
  • Engine/trans: 1.6 L (116 hp), 5-speed manual
  • Curb weight: 2100 lbs / 952 kg
  • Odometer: 216k kilometres (134k miles)
  • Cosmetically: rough
  • Mechanically: unknown, but owner at least says oil changed "religiously" and other than a burst rad hose once, has been "bulletproof"; it was not winter driven; brakes will be a bit rusty from sitting outside for a year.
5) The price:

He's asking a thousand bucks for it.

That's quite a bit less than even the cheapest basket case Miatas advertised in Canada, of which there are 400-500 for sale right now.

More to come!

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Old 11-08-2016, 01:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Haha, interesting find!

What makes you want to buy this car? You already have a small fleet.
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Old 11-08-2016, 04:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I guess I'm just a sucker for thousand dollar cars.

If this happens, one of the others will have to go. I'm trying (and clearly failing) to shrink the horde, not expand it! Fess up: are you an automotive hoarder? (Eco-cars or not)

But seriously, the reason is: many years ago I had the chance to drive a relative's gen. 1 Miata a bunch of times, and I distinctly remember it being a very fun little car -- joyful to drive. One of the earliest reviews I read said something like: if all the world's leaders drove Miatas, world peace would break out.

And for that price, as long as it's not mechanically trashed, it's a question of "why not?", not "why?"
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Old 11-08-2016, 08:14 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Either (a) you are a sucker for mongrel vehicles or (b) you have a bad case of G-note$ burning holes in your pocket(s)...all metaphors intended.
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Old 11-08-2016, 09:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I can neither confirm nor deny the charges!

Except about G-note$ falling out of my pockets... I can deny that part.
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Old 11-08-2016, 09:43 PM   #6 (permalink)
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That year had wobbly crankshaft problems, just warning you. I believe the issue was corrected with a redesigned crank in 91 or 92.
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Old 11-09-2016, 09:06 AM   #7 (permalink)
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potential crank pulley issue

Yes! I've read about that - somewhat scary.

The keyway on the end of the crankshaft can be destroyed if the crank pulley bolt (a) simply loosens over time; (b) or was re-torqued incorrectly after removal; (c) or the key was inserted backwards in the keyway on reassembly.

The result is the crank pulley develops a wobble that wrecks the crankshaft end = need new crank/engine.

I will be looking for evidence of this:



Resulting damage:



^ That should be a clean, straight keyway.

It's a fatal flaw in the 1.6L 1st gen engine with the "short nose" crankshaft pulley end.

There's also a "loctite fix" procedure that may work if the damage hasn't progressed too far.
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Old 11-09-2016, 11:00 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Looks like an excuse to electrify whatever that pulley was turning.

(The alternator can be replaced by a plugin-pack.)
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Old 11-09-2016, 11:09 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Yes!

However...

The unfortunate problem is that shaft / pulley defect also affects the camshafts via the timing belt, which is not visible in the video. The crank timing gear is hidden behind the larger pulley, but it's driven by the same key/keyway connection.



When the crankshaft keyway starts to fail, the camshaft timing goes off.
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Old 11-09-2016, 11:30 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Topoff - '92 Geo Metro LSi
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I have one of those...it only gets ~24mpg though. Gearing, DOHC, aerodynamics...it isn't designed for MPGs.

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