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1992 Mazda Miata, all photos by Joel Patel

1992 Mazda Miata, all photos by Joel Patel

After a couple of months driving any car I could get my hands on, I finally bought a 1992 Mazda Miata MX-5. I’m not going to bore you with the specifics of the vehicle I bought – I’ll do that in another post – but to show you my thinking behind choosing the Miata.

In another article, I wrote about some of the cars I was interested in (Subaru WRX, BMW 540i, Volkswagen GTI and Honda Civic Si) and I will now address why I did not purchase one of these.

The Subaru WRX was my favorite. I fell in love with it for its AWD system, ability to handle a lot of power and overall reliability, but looking at Craigslist reveals that the cheapest WRX for sale is a 2004 model with 285K miles for $8,000.

How ridiculous is that?

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When I first started looking a few months ago, I found a 2002 WRX Wagon with 180K miles on it that I thought I was going to buy. But the seller had a lot of attention and the asking price rose $1500 over the list price within a matter of minutes. I drove the vehicle and enjoyed it, but I don’t think it’s worth the price that others were willing to pay for it.

The BMW 540i was the only V-8-powered car on the list, which already put it in a bad spot. After checking Repairpal.com, I saw that routine maintenance on the vehicle was low for a BMW, but more than the average automaker. I didn’t get the chance to drive one, but I’m still interested in getting my hands on one in the future. It just didn’t seem like the right move as a daily driver with a limited budget.

GTIs were a whole other ball game compared to the other cars I was looking at. I can’t say that there’s a shortage of GTIs on sale at the moment, but I was after a very specific model – a 24-valve VR6 with a six-speed manual transmission. I couldn’t find any of these within my price range and the 12-valve VR6s were either modified to hell or mangled.

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Interestingly enough, I also found GTI owners to be some of the worst at responding to my emails, phone calls, or text messages. The majority of them never got back to me or answered in a snippy, rude manner.

Lastly, I ruled the Civic Si out when I saw that prices for these vehicles were appreciating. I was looking for an EP3 Civic SI, but was soon dissuaded by the amount of money it would take to turn it into something I would enjoy to drive. The other vehicles would’ve been fine as daily drivers on their own, but the Civic SI was a sporty commuter car and nothing could be done to alter its true DNA. If I had the money and the time, I would’ve sprung for a high-mileage one and swapped out some parts, but I wasn’t interested in something that I would have to change to have fun in.

So the million-dollar question is, why did I choose a Miata?

A little while back, I got in touch with someone selling a 1999 Miata for $4500. I was interested in the car and thought it looked good in the pictures, so I made an appointment to check it out and the owner let me drive it. Unfortunately, it did need a couple of things and we weren’t able to work out a price, but I was able to drive it.

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To keep this short and sweet, I really enjoyed it. After doing some research, I figured that the Miata was probably the best car for the job, since it’s small, reliable, cheap and easy to fix, which was exactly what I was looking for.

After looking at a terrible 1991 Miata in Ellicott City, Md., I decided to stay within 30 minutes of my house and luckily one turned up a few days later. I jumped on the vehicle and set up a time to see the owner one day after he posted it on Craigslist.

The vehicle wasn’t in the best condition, but everything was there, mechanically at least, and it ran well. So I bought it and drove it home that day. It was priced accordingly, had minimal owners, needed minimal work and was a good deal. It was the best vehicle I could afford, so I bought it.

In upcoming posts, I’ll document how much money has gone into the vehicle, costs for parts, ease of completing labor and my overall thoughts on it.

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