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Ask any car enthusiast which rear-drive car they would buy if they had a tight budget, and the answer will likely be “a Mazda Miata.” Sure, the answer always being “Miata” is generally overplayed by now. But when you come across pristine examples like this 1990 Mazda Miata on Bring a Trailer, you may strongly consider the answer to be true.

The pristine red 1990 Mazda Miata on Bring a Trailer
1990 Mazda Miata | Bring a Trailer

This 1990 Mazda Miata is in showroom condition with fewer miles than a one-year-old car

1990 Mazda Miata interior
1990 Mazda Miata | Bring a Trailer

Mazda has sold over one million copies of the Miata since its inception in 1990. In that case, you would think that a clean example would be easy to find – but it’s not. Browse your local classifieds on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, and you are sure to find plenty of rusted and clapped-out models selling for more than they should.

But occasionally, you’ll find a good one, like this 1990 Mazda Miata that’s currently being auctioned on Bring a Trailer. According to the ad, the Classic Red roadster only has 7,000 miles on the odometer. You read that right, not 70,000 or 170,000. To add that rarity, the CarFax report only shows one owner, but this particular model isn’t a stranger to the auction block.

It sold on Bring a Trailer back in October 2021 for $16,750 and again in March 2022 for $23,500. The description says that Miata was originally “offered as part of a November 1990 auction sponsored by the Saint Paul, Minnesota-based United Hospital Foundation.” It was then raffled off by the original owner’s church when it was first listed on Bring a Trailer before it was purchased by the current owner during the second auction in 2022.

This Miata is back on the block

1990 Mazda Miata service records and manual
1990 Mazda Miata | Bring a Trailer

Well, it’s back on the block with only 500 more miles than when it last sold. As you can imagine, the car was garage-kept and has a perfect black convertible top that matches its black cloth interior.

Under its hood is a 1.6-liter engine that’s mated to a five-speed manual transmission. Some notable features include 14-inch wheels, OEM floormats, and an Audiovox cassette stereo. The car also comes with the original window sticker, original sales paperwork, United Hospital Foundation correspondence, some service records, a clean CarFax, and a clean Texas title.

One thing to note is that the Miata does not have power windows, power steering, or air conditioning, which makes it a true driver’s car. It also comes with old tires, so those will definitely need to be changed. Otherwise, this Miata is as mint as they get.

Are first-generation Mazda Miata values increasing?

Considering this car had an original sticker price of $14,173 in 1990 and then sold for $16,750 and $23,500 32 years later, it’s plausible to believe that first-gen Miata values are rising. However, this particular example is likely an exception given its condition and ultra-low mileage.

A nationwide search on CarGurus reveals that many first-generation Mazda Miatas (1990-97) sell for around $10,000 or more. Granted, these are dealership prices, which are generally inflated. We found some decent examples in our local Facebook Marketplace classifieds selling for around $5,000 to $7,000, which shows you find them for less.

However, it wasn’t too long ago when you could pick up one of these Miatas for around $2,000 to $3,000 in good condition. Not anymore, so it’s safe to say their values are increasing. They’re just not to Honda S2000 levels yet.

What makes the first-generation Miata so great?

1990 Mazda Miata engine
1990 Mazda Miata | Bring a Trailer

Pricing aside, the first-generation Mazda Miata is a lightweight (2,116 pounds) roadster that provides plenty of fun despite its low horsepower rating. The example listed on Bring a Trailer only makes 116 hp and 100 lb-ft of torque. But its slick-shifting manual transmission and rear-drive architecture are what makes it so enticing to enthusiasts.

In the first-gen Miata, the driver feels connected to the car and road without any electronic nannies or acoustic windshields to get in the way. Also, driving 40 mph feels like you’re going 100 mph, so it’s safe in that regard.

If you want to feel the visceral fun that the first-gen Miata offers, you can buy this one. However, there are only three days left on the auction, and it’s likely to sell for more than it did before, so you better act fast.