Mazda mx-5

Mazda MX5 (1989 – 1997)

The ultimate nineties roadster

This Japanese roadster took off where Britain’s Lotus Elan finished in the early seventies, this capable little car was launched in 1989 at the Chicago Motor Show. Standing for Mazda Experiment and project number 5, the Mazda MX5 went through seven years of heavily critiqued design, engineering and testing before being given the production green light. It went on to become the biggest selling two-seater convertible in history.

The MX5 started a surge of roadsters on a scene that had been left in the dark for over a decade and the nineties saw the launch of roadsters from rival manufacturers all good cars but it was the MX5 that captured the heart of the public with its instant throttle response and invigorating exhaust note, driver involvement was the key and the Japanese roadster ticked all the right boxes making it the most fun you can have on four wheels.

Reminiscent of the British roadsters back in the sixties and seventies the MX5 is today a modern classic with a price tag most can afford. So go for a Sunday drive in the country and see how the MX5 will put a smile back on your face.

Years Produced1989 - 1997
Performance0 - 60mph 8.6sec / Top Speed - 116mph
Power & Torque 114bhp / 100Ib ft
Engine1597cc four cylinder / 16 valves
Drive-train front engine RWD
TransmissionFive speed manual

The Mazda MX5 is a solid and reliable roadster but as with most cars that are thirty years old you will still need to make sure your buying a good one.


Hoods are usually reliable just make sure the front catches are operating and make sure it’s fully waterproof.

Suspension is good on these little roadsters, with excellent precision being one of the cars many attributes. Just check springs for corrosion or cracks plus oil leaks from the dampers.

Ensure you check underneath the car, making sure drain holes are not blocked as this could mean signs of corrosion. Make sure that the area around the jacking points are clean and tidy too. The chassis is usually sound as the car has a strong structure so things are normally good. Brakes are not under too much pressure with the MX5 being so light but make sure pads and discs have been replaced at the right intervals.

Under the bonnet

Engines are strong and perform best when revving free, just make sure the car has good history showing regular services including oil and filter changes with new belts and correct parts and lubricants used. Gearboxes should feel stiff and accurate if it is sloppy then there could be problems with the selection mechanism.

Electrics are a Mazda strong point so there shouldn’t be any problems there. You’ll want to make sure that power steering pump lines are not corroded, although generally steering is responsive.


The only thing you really want to look out for in the interior, is the seat belts. They can become slack overtime, which isn’t a safety issue – more just general annoyance!

Generally with good history the Mazda MX5 is a strong and reliable roadster


The Mazda MX5 is the best selling roadster in the world selling over 1 million by April 2016.

Mark Wilkinson (Managing Partner of Heritage Classic Car Insurance) says

“The Mazda MX5 was the instigator behind the comeback of the roadster genre, and is still being made today in its fourth generation. No other roadster has better credentials than the MX5 to evoke the spirit of original British Roadsters that the Japanese have not only mimicked but improved on, it was about time.”



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