It’s time to see what the fuss behind these cars is all about.
If there’s one thing that the automotive world loves to wax lyrical about, it’s the Mazda MX-5. All generations, from the inanely happy looking pop-up light Mk1 (NA to those in the know) to the newest Mk4 (the ND), from day one everyone has totally and utterly fallen in love with Japan’s attempt at the classic British Sports Car formula.
The topic has been done to death at this point to be honest. The “Miata is the answer to everything” slogan has become a running joke. But for those who don’t know, here’s a little background information. I won’t get too technical, don’t worry.
Introduced to the world in 1989, the Mazda MX-5 (Eunos in Japan, Miata in America) was designed to be a modern day Lotus Elan that actually, y’know, works. Lightweight. Rear wheel drive. Convertible. No frills, no spills, all fun. Pop up lights, cute looks. It was a hairdressers dream.
Did I mention pop up headlights? Yep. Flick a switch and the happiest face to ever see the road comes to life.
Available with a 1.6 or a 1.8 engine, the cars had just enough power to move them along at a steady pace, and more than enough power to have an awful lot of fun. Or at least, so I hear. I’ve wanted a Mazda MX-5 for an awful long time, but they were always out of budget. For a good one at least. But now it’s time to find out if they live up to the hype.
And I had no idea I was even getting one.
“This is not how I saw my day going.”
It started in the morning time about a week ago. I was enjoying a nice lye in when my dad burst in to the room and announced that he was “going to look at a car to scrap so he could have the engine and gearbox out of it”. Half asleep, I hastily replied with something along the lines of “ugh, what is it”. Given his collection of cars, I expected something I had no interest in – a Hillman Imp, an old Ford, something like that.
“Mazda. MX something.”
Very quickly, my interest and attention were piqued. A phone call, an hour long trip to Cavan and back and then back to Cavan again (don’t ask) later, there she was, laying decrepit in a bit of farm land.
The thing is, dad was going to see if it was any good for scrapping to keep the engine. I was going to look and see if it was worth saving. The interior was absolutely revolting. The roof didn’t close properly. It wouldn’t start, presumably due to the immobiliser. But was she solid?
God yes, she was solid.
£300-odd later, a deal was done and she was coming home. But not to scrap. She’s being recommissioned. And the best part? It turns out it was a birthday present for me.
So, we got her home after an adventurous trip back (and by adventurous, I mean, we got lost twice. Don’t ask.), got her off the trailer and got her all cleaned up. Despite having a few obvious imperfections, she genuinely wasn’t that bad.
But one thing that was still absolutely horrible, was that interior. As you can see from the last pic, the garage is still sadly occupied, so she has to wait a bit longer before she gets a full recommissioning. But for now, we can get started.
Let’s get Physical.
First things first, let’s get cleaning up that interior. We had two days of good weather, so I thought it best to make the most of it and do some stuff on what’s now christened as “Nelly”, after Nelly Furtado. (“All Good Things Come to an End” and all that. Long story.) With sun as rare as it is in Ireland, why not get to work outside?
The interior was, as you’ll see, absolutely revolting. The roof never closed properly and the car was parked outside for two years, so there was literally grass and mould and some form of mushroom growing in it. Needless to say, gloves were needed.
So, I began by taking everything out. I have to love how relatively simply Japanese cars are put together. My Subaru is the same – nothing is tricky, and everything is nice and easy to get to. Why can’t all cars be like this?
I removed the (frankly revolting) carpets.
And the seats…
Which left me with this. Thankfully, there’s no rot under there. A small bit of surface rust that I can sand back and stick a lick of paint over, and get rid of the remaining soundproofing and it’ll look the best.
Afterwards, I gave the seats and carpets every cleaning product under the sun and absolutely pelted them with a pressure washer. The results speak for themselves.
A much, much nicer place to be. The driver’s seat is still drying out, so it’s not in yet. But thankfully, the cockpit is now free of anything that’s like to give me diseases and kill me slowly.
So for now, all that’s left is to get her running, and dad’s on the case. But that’s for next time.