The Cheap Mazda Miata Is Dead and So Are Affordable Sports Cars

  • The cheap Mazda Miata is no more
  • You can find a low-mile NA Miata for nearly $20,000
  • Newer Miatas are still a huge bargain

Miata is always the answer.” For the last several decades, it really has been. The small sports car from Mazda has been a paragon of fun, affordable, open-roof driving since the launch of the NA generation roadster back in 1989. Now, the current ND generation Mazda Miata sets the bar for cheap, fun new cars. But what about the old ones? The used ones, the “I bought it for a case of beer for the 24 Hours of Lemons” Miatas? Those ones are dead.

The Mazda Miata isn’t a girl’s car, it’s a rich person’s

A red convertible Mazda Miata shot from the front 3/4 in a photo studio
It’s no girl’s car | National Motor Museum via Getty Images

RELATED: The Mazda Miata Will Get a Refresh for 2022, North American Debut Coming Soon

This article by Hagerty tells the story of a girl named Vivian. When she was 14, she and her dad bought a 1995 Mazda Miata for $700. It had paint (if you could call it that), a water pump that leaked more water than it pumped, and ignition with less timing than an amateur open-mic night at the ComedyWorks. But dammit, it was $700 of freedom to 14-year-old Vivian, and it was her first car. I suppose you could say the Miata is a girl’s car. She’s put 20,000 miles on it since.

“You used to be able to get cars for 500 or 600 bucks. Now they’re $1500 or two grand,” says Vivian. For some, that’s enough of a price change to push a person out of the market on something. Imagine if the PS5 you want doubled in price for one that’s been used for 10+ years, and you get the picture. Now, it’s harder and harder to find clean examples of these coveted roadsters, especially in today’s market.

How much does a used Miata cost?

A black NA generation Miata shot in profile in front of a lake in the UK
NA-gen Miata’s used to be a few hundred bucks | National Motor Museum via Getty Images

See, rising costs in the enthusiast and consumer auto markets have pushed people with less money down-market. But sure, $2,000 does sound like a bargain on the famous roadster. That’s especially true if you know what Porsche race cars are going for these days. But the Mazda Miata has long been the people’s sports car. Something everyone can afford. Now, that’s not the case.

Consumers born in the ’80s and ’90s have grown up, and the cars of their youths, like the little Mazda roadster, are being snapped up by those now adults. They’ve got the disposable income to buy that poster car, just like your grandpa when he got back from “the war.” It used to be a clean, low mile, Mazda Miata from the NA generation was no more than $10,000 for the nicest one you’d ever seen. Now, it’s more like $18,000 for a nice Mazda Miata.

What’s the best affordable sports car?

A black NC generation Mazda Miata shot from the front 3/4 in a photo booth
The answer is still Miata | National Motor Museum via Getty Images

A car like the Miata nearly doubling in price is a tough pill to swallow. Fortunately, there’s still some bargains out there. Later generations aren’t as well-liked as the famed NA, and a quick browse online shows several NB and NC generation cars can be found with low miles for under $15,000, a good sight more than that magical $10,000 number. It would appear the cheap sports car is dead. Long live the cheap sports car.

RELATED: Why Does Every New BMW Car and SUV Look Like Pumbaa From the Lion King?