The Mazda Miata has been with us for well over three decades, becoming the best-selling two-seat sports car in history along the way. Miatas were popular as quasi-sensible commuter cars in North America well into our current century, which means that I should have been seeing at least a couple in every junkyard I’ve visited for at least the last 15 years. In fact, I still see many more discarded MGBs and Fiat 124 Sport Spiders than I do Miatas, so this reasonably intact ’93 in Crystal White paint caught my attention immediately (naturally, there was an ’81 Fiat Spider 2000 a few rows away).
How could it be that a car that has sold pretty well for 33 years and was— at least initially— a hit with car shoppers looking for a fun Point-A-to-Point-B machine would be so rare in your local Ewe Pullet? One word: Racing. Just this month in Colorado, nine out of 60 teams at the most recent B.F.E. GP 24 Hours of Lemons raced Miatas, most of those racers run Miatas in other events and own multiple race cars, and all of them have stockpiled every Miata component they can find in local self–service wrecking yards. Today’s Junkyard Find got picked clean by the team with the purple car in the collage above, a couple of days after I shot these photos.
So, when I find a junkyard Miata, most of the time it will be unrecognizably stripped, crashed, and/or burned by the time I find it. I find about as many 1991–1994 Mercury Capris (front-wheel-drive cousin to the MX-5) in car graveyards as intact MX-5s.
This car must have just hit the inventory a few hours before I arrived.
A mere 162,348 miles on the clock, which is just getting broken in for a Mazda product of the middle 1990s. What happened?
The Front Range region of Colorado gets a lot of hail in the spring and summer, and a close look at the sheet metal on this car shows that every sky-facing surface picked up a golf-ball-style set of dimples from golf-ball-sized hailstones. The insurance company did the math and this car got totaled.
In the street-driving world, automatic transmissions help a car’s resale value. This one has the base five-speed manual; the optional automatic added $750 to the $15,300 MSRP (that’s about $1,535 on a $31,360 car in inflation-adjusted 2022 dollars). Miata racers get very excited when they find one of these cars with a slushbox in a cheap wrecking yard, because that means the differential didn’t take as much punishment during the car’s time on the street.
1993 was the last model year for the 1.6-liter engine in the American-market MX-5; its 1.8-liter successor stuck around here through 2004. In 1993, the 1.6 made 116 horsepower.
The US-market 1993 Miata came with an AM/FM/cassette sound system as base equipment, but you had to pay 830 extra bucks for air conditioning. This car has the A/C.
“They said the roadster was extinct, but we made the Mazda Miata anyway.”
For links to more than 2,200 additional Junkyard Finds, please head to the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.
[Images: The author]
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