The Mazda Miata Isn’t the Affordable-Entry Sports Car It Used to Be

If you ask any Mazda Miata with the name of the iconic roadster’s name is an acronym for, they’ll all know exactly what you want in response. The answer, of course, is “Miata is always the answer.” For a long time, it was. Now, though, the market has finally caught up with these once-affordable sports cars and the bright-eyed first-generation Mazda roadsters are fetching astonishing numbers.

Good luck finding a decent first-gen model under $5,000

Red 1995 Mazda Miata front 3/4 with top down parked in front of ocean
1995 Mazda Miata | Cars and Bids

It seems like only yesterday one could track down a decent condition first-generation Mazda Miata for under $3,000. Now, though, this recently closed Cars and Bids auction, as well as dozens of other sales, are sealing the vault on affordable happy-face roadsters for good.

The Miata in question has some modifications. The list includes Tein coilover suspension, aftermarket seat covers (probably hiding some rough stock seats), a steering wheel cover, and even a cluster swap. So, the actual mileage of this car is unknown.

Additionally, it’s got overspray from newer paint, fading clear coat, scratches, a reasonably substantial dent, and scratches on the plastic rear window. It even has a tape repair done to the driver’s side door card.

So, with all of these issues, one might think this car would be on the lower side of the price point for a Miata. Well, one would be correct. However, it still managed to fetch an almost insulting $6,200 hammer price. It would have been much higher, too, if the mileage was verifiable.

Front of red 1994 Mazda Miata with headlights up
1994 Mazda Miata | Cars and Bids

For example, this 1994 Miata in another Cars and Bids auction had 81,900 miles. Though it mostly features stock equipment, it has aftermarket wheels, suspension, exhaust, and a cheap aftermarket steering wheel. It sold for $9,269 earlier this year.

Why are Miatas so expensive?

As with any market or product, the price comes from supply and demand. While the world slept on Miatas for a while, the fan base surrounding this happy little sports car has grown substantially. In a Car Throttle interview, Jay Leno even recommended the first-generation Miata as the best affordable sports car one could buy for under $5,000.

The growing popularity ultimately met a head-on collision with supply. Between rotting and rusty Miatas meeting their maker at junkyards or crushers, drifting enthusiasts smashing Miatas into oblivion, and car accidents of many varieties, good condition Miatas are getting harder to find. As weird as it is to think about, early Miatas are now over 30 years old. Naturally, the older a car gets, the fewer examples you’ll likely see in good condition.

Speaking of good shape, if you thought the Cars and Bids prices were crazy, venture over to Bring A Trailer. Any low mileage car can fetch a crazy price over there. They’re not quite as insane as the Integra Type R that sold recently. However, a 1993 Mazda Miata special edition with only 8,000 original miles managed to fetch an eye-watering price of $35,000.

So, if you come across a Miata that’s in decent shape for under $5,000, you should buy it. It would make a quick and easy flip. Alternatively, you could hang on to it and enjoy the sporty, corner-carving open-top experience that a Miata provides. Then, in 10 years, you can cash out and retire when it’s the only good one left.

Just food for thought.

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