My, how time flies. It seems like maybe two years have passed since I found this little gem in a Used Cars classifieds section. But today, August 15, 2016, marks ten years, and I’m glad to report that I’m just as happy with this 2001 MX-5 Miata SE now as I was the day I got it home.
The car was about five years old when it found me, and I paid less than half of what it cost new (Roughly $28,000 back then). And while not perfect, it was in as good condition as most any other 2001 Miata I found at the time. The miles were low, the clutch worked well, the A/C was cold, and the radio worked, so I bought it after a quick test drive and the usual negotiations.
The car still sports its original British Racing Green paint, and the tan dash lower, door panels, carpets, roof, and leather seats are still fit for their jobs. Though I did replace the driver’s lower seat cover because a wire from inside the seat was trying to make its way out. While in there, l reinforced the seat foam because the shape was starting to compress from its previous owner(s).
Also in the SE cabin is the factory Nardi wood steering wheel, white gauge backgrounds, and a real wood shift knob connected to a 6-speed manual transmission. I do wish 6th gear had a taller ratio; the car seems over-revved at 60+ mph. I think Mazda missed a chance for a great highway gear in this car.
Oh, the car had 33,000 miles when I got it on August 15, 2006; it has about 56,000 now. So not a lot of driving has been done to the car, though I did drive it from Nashville to St. Louis twice, mainly to see the magnificent view where the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers meet each other.
Everything on the car still works. Everything. Of course there’s been a little wear and tear, but nothing of any real importance. I had new tires put on it about six months ago, partly from use but mostly from cracks appearing in the sidewalls from drying out. After all, this car’s Performance Suspension should be kept in proper order.
Speaking of wear and tear, about three years ago I replaced its original tan folding cloth top, along with the carpet piece just under the back window. That event took about a month of my life and the floor space in a spare room. There were fiddly bits everywhere, but the new top fits great and most people can’t tell it from a factory one; it even has a glass rear window with defroster elements, just like the original top had.
Since it’s a Special Edition and has a few parts unique to that trim, I’m scouring the internet for items that may be harder to find as time goes on. So far I have a spare set of original green embroidered SE floor mats, an extra Bose radio with CD player, and I’m looking for polished aluminum rims (Unique to the SE in 2001, but available on other MX-5s in later years). Two of mine have some curb rash, and I’d like to replace them.
What has surprised me most about this car is that it is tougher than it looks. One night I came around a tight corner, and Miss Bambi was standing in the middle of the road. She almost got out of the way in time; I doubt anything was injured other than her pride. But I did hear a >thunk< when we met. Fearing the worst I got out and checked the car, but found no lasting impressions at all. “Whew!”
There’s a growing interest in these SEs, both from their owners and observers. Only 3,000 of these cars were made, and a group is trying to track where the survivors are. A map showing the known ones in North America can be found here.
And from reading about any classic sports car… from a Spridget to a Jaguar… after a few decades they only become more and more appreciated. After all, do sports cars ever go out of style? So I hope this SE becomes a collectible some day and is preserved, not restored, for when it’s handed to its next keeper.
The car is getting a great patina; the painted numbers are wearing off of the shift knob, squirrels have left empty walnut shells under the hood, and the paint maybe could use a light buffing. But the design and build quality of this car is keeping me out of a new one. Also its wood and tan accents, both real and plastic, give it a bit of a “living” sensation, whereas the new MX-5’s interior plastics and alloys make it look and feel more like just a machine.
Say what you will about an older Miata being a hairdresser’s car… it’ll hug the corners better than most muscle cars out there can, and will make you, the passenger, scream like the little girly man that you really are… and sometimes that’s what a true sports car is all about.
Here’s to Ten More Years to come!
Image Credits: All photos are by yours truly.