It’s apparently the best little sports car in the world, so when I got offered rear-wheel drive, infinite headroom and a retro design for £900, there was only really going to be one answer. My family have been through a few classic British sports cars over the years; Dad has had a couple of MGs, my Uncle a TVR. And considering the Lotus Elan was the car the MX-5 used for inspiration, I feel like I’ve joined the club.
Before the Alfaholics Juniors, Singer 911s and Eagle Jaguars, I feel like the MX-5 nailed the retro-looks/modern tech concept considering it is actually an 80s car originally (launched in 1989). My car is a 1998 NB MX-5 which makes it one of the earliest MkII cars with the NA Miata stopping production in 1997. My British Racing Green car has a 1.6-Litre twincam engine producing around 110bhp. That may seem like bugger all but considering it only weighs in the region of one tonne, I never feel like power is an issue. It isn’t fast but I wouldn’t say it’s slow…it’s brisk.
Why did I get an MX-5? The GTV took a bit of a hammering on the Edinburgh Bypass forcing me into a Gumtree shopping spree. Project MX-5 had got my juices flowing, considering how simplistic the design of the mechanicals seemed and with the new ND MX-5 taking the sports car scene by storm yet again, the small Japanese roadster seemed like a very logical substitution. After five minutes behind the wheel, I could tell my suspicions were very much true.
Dynamically, my MX-5 is spot on; double-wishbone suspension makes the handling pinpoint accurate, a huge leap into another league of car control over the Alfa. The composure of the car is the real stand out. There’s a lovely stretch of Scottish B-road on the way up to the Knockhill racing circuit called the B914 which has plenty of fast sweepers and tricky downhill esse bends that really tug and squeeze at a car’s suspension and tyres. And after barely any time in the MX-5, I was more than happy to throw the MX-5 into the corners at least 10mph faster than in my previous cars.
Now this can mostly be put down to the presence of rear-wheel drive; it really is going to be a huge shock when I go back to driving something powered through the front wheels. The sense of freedom that comes from uncorrupted steering is always an incredible feeling when first experienced. I’ll admit I’ve got used to just how accurate and intimate the steering is on my small piece of JDM coolness, setting an extremely high bar for any other future purchases.
Sure, the generic Miata abuse has come my way plenty of times but if I’m honest, if you don’t like the Mazda MX-5, I probably won’t be the biggest fan of you. There is something intrinsically right about the it; The underside might be heavily corroded and I may have just spent a fair whack on getting it fully serviced and yet every time I take it out for a drive, it just keeps giving and giving.
The gear change. Holy shit the gear change. It’s perfect. Like Natalie Portman perfect. The throw is at least half the distance of any of my past cars, making every change simply a flick of my weak child-like wrist. Every change gives off an audible clink as the gear linkage shifts around underneath the car. Feck me, it’s engaging.
With a bit of work on the rear wheel arches this summer, S832 CSC will be mechanically and aesthetically bang-on (I’ll let the roof leaks go for now). The plan is to have it supercharged by the time I leave university (this time next year) so I’ll be on the look-out for any Jackson Racing products in the meantime…if anyone can help me with that please do get in touch.
But for now, I’ll be buying some repair panels and getting my first roadster in ship shape for what looks to be the best summer for a long time. I’ve only owned the little Mazda for three months but it’s already by far the best car I’ve owned. Until I can afford a 981 Boxster GTS. Peace.