Your first oversteer car - Mazda MX-5 buying guide

What to look for, and how much to pay when buying an MX-5.

The original MX-5 of 1990 was an instant hit, with its Lotus Elan-aping styling, 115bhp 1.6-litre twin-cam (joined in 1994 by a 1.8), double-wishbone suspension and classic ragtop vibe. It was replaced in 1998 by the slightly bigger, heavier and more refined mk2 (without the original’s pop-up lights). Pick of the mk2s were the 1.8iS, with 146bhp and an LSD, and the six-speed Sport. A facelift in 2001 (known as the mk2.5) preceded the mk3 in 2005.


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Tatty mk1s start at a grand, mk2s at £1500, while late high-spec mk2s can fetch up to £6000. But there are plenty of LSD-equipped 1.8iS and Sport models from £2000.


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MX-5s rust around sills and rear wheelarches, so check that these are either original and sound, or have been repaired and protected with cavity wax. Also check the hood – drain holes should be clear. Engine rattles should disappear quickly from a cold start, and gear changes should be smooth and precise. Avoid excessively lowered cars and those without PAS. Find out more at


TYRES (two rear, fitted): £200

EXHAUST (fitted, cat-back): £157


ROAD TAX (12 months): £270

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FUEL** (10,000 miles): £1574

TOTAL: £2628

* Insurance based on a 30-year-old male, two years’ NCD, living in Stamford, office worker, no accidents or convictions. Quotes from Adrian Flux (

** Fuel cost based on official ‘combined’ mpg and unleaded at £1.35 per litre


Mazda MX-5 (Mk2)
Engine In-line 4-cyl, 1839cc
Max power 146bhp @ 7000rpm
Max torque 124lb ft @ 5000rpm
Weight (kerb) 1065kg
Power-to-weight 140bhp/ton
0-60mph 8.6sec (claimed)
Top speed 123mph (claimed)
Years ’98-’05
Price when new £18,000 (2004)
Price today £2000-£4000

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