MX5 as an everyday car

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  • MX5 as an everyday car
  • Premier Icon mikewsmith

    How tall are you? My brother (6’2″) rugby player looked like he was driving a kids car in his, but there did seem to be lots of places to keep scissors and combs…

    I’m shorter and thought it felt a bit cramped. What sort of country roads will you be “making progress” on? Just think what will happen if you meet a tractor.

    Anyway there was a thread on here about a couple of guys who went biking/bromancing round europe in one.

    Premier Icon wallop

    I had one for a few years – Mk III 2.0 sport. Was great fun. Only got rid of it so we could drive to the Alps (which required an estate).

    Disclaimer – I’m a girl.

    ‘Bout 5’11” with stumpy little legs and quite a long torso, so I might be a bit squished – kinda hoping the lowness of the seat might help with that.

    To be honest, I’m not really a “making progress” kind of driver 99% of the time, I drive to speed limits and to what I can see – but I DO really enjoy driving, and I’ve always (since I was a weeun) fancied something light and rear wheel drive. Though a spare set of wheels and track day would be appealing…

    I actually know Duane who went round Europe in his, I should ask. He’s in Columbia at the moment I think, after supporting his mate riding all the mainland states in the US.


    Will it still be fun after commuting on fast, twisty country roads every day or will I come to hate it?

    Not sure I could commute in one. They are comfy enough, just maybe not a place I’d want to spend that much time. Also, they aren’t that quick if Molgrips is holding things up and you need to overtake.

    Clio 172/182 as an alternative? Still cheap, surprisingly reliable, quicker and the rattly interior gives it that ‘raw’ driving feel 😉


    He’s in Columbia at the moment I think

    Have you not been following his standard 25 selfies a day on Facebook?


    I had one 15 years ago or so as a daily car. Brilliant fun 🙂

    I’m 6′ and had no problems. Only thing to watch is rear wheel drive in the wet, can get a bit tail happy.

    For perspective, I currently commute in a 13 year old Yaris; comfort and power are unlikely to be *that* much of an issue!

    Clio 172 / 182 is on the list actually (along with the holy grail 205 GTi) but I just have a rear wheel drive itch…


    Have you not been following his standard 25 selfies a day on Facebook?

    Ish! But I’m too busy to keep up to speed, last I saw he was shouted at by some Columbians.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith

    oh and it was fun when my brother broke his leg and had a cast to his thigh…MX5 was garage for a while (they had to take the front seat out the 106 so he could go anywhere 🙂 )

    Premier Icon jobro

    I’ve used a MK 1 for commuting without problems. Load carrying is never going to be great but then on a commute you might not need much. I did get a bike with both wheels off inside on the passenger seat once (pedal in left ear though!)
    Very tail loose in ice and snow if too enthusiastic with right foot.


    last I saw he was shouted at by some Columbians.

    aahhh yes, the selfie on the rock.

    Fair enough looking for rwd action, although you can get a Clio surprisingly sideways 😳

    Had a mark 2 for two years drove it 25 miles each way every day, it never got annoying – was tricky in the snow though.
    Completely reliable and fun to drive. Anyone who claims they are girls cars or whatever else has obviously never driven one. It’s a great little car.


    I ran a 2.0 roadster ( electric hard top) for a couple of years. It was a very ‘easy’ car to own – just needed routine servicing, very reliable.
    They’re great fun, but I was surprised how noisy mine was with the roof up – test drove it with the roof down, of course!
    I drove it occasionally on a 200 miler; I’d try and keep off motorways and put the roof down. I still remember driving down to Heathrow, early January with the roof down, heater and heated seats on. I loved it.
    I think it’s one of those things that everyone should do – buy one for the right price at the right time, sell it at the right time, and it won’t cost you very much

    I could get the Yaris surprisingly sideways with the hateful tyres it had on for a week 😳

    Yeah space isn’t really an issue, it’s a 20ish mile drive and all I really bring is some sandwiches, and we’ll still have the Yaris for bike duties. The road to work (well one of them) is nice and wide and twisty, can be good fun in the Yaris!

    Now all I need is for the Mrs to get the job and then convince her that a 2 seat softtop is a practical idea…


    If looking at a mk2 its definitely worth having a looking at the chassis rail issues they can have. Enough to make sure I’d never have one 😯


    Easy to live with all year, however the quality of the soft top will make a big difference, and expect it to be a bit less fun in the winter with ice on the inside of the hood and windscreen.

    If you like driving cars then you will more than live with it every day and it will make you smile in a way a Clio just cant.

    In the dry rear end grip is fine. In the winter it becomes fun 🙂

    Premier Icon nickjb

    Had a similar-ish car for my country commute many years ago and it never got annoying. Always fun. One big plus was that you could drive it in a fairly spirited way and still be under the limit. A lot the faster, more modern cars are pretty dull unless you drive them way too fast for UK roads.

    Yeah that’s it – I don’t see the point in a superfast car (for me, anyway) when I mostly stick to limits – something that’s fun in the corners is a much better idea.

    Premier Icon brassneck

    Commuted in my Mk1 for 5 years, ace fun. Handles beautifully as long as the tyres are good and the suspension well maintained.
    Mk 1 is an old car now, but they are very reliable. get a good one and keep on top of any issues and you won’t have a problem.
    Boot rack carried a bike OK, gigged with my Twin reverb in the boot, guitar and gubbins in the passenger seat.

    Not sure I could commute in one. They are comfy enough, just maybe not a place I’d want to spend that much time. Also, they aren’t that quick if Molgrips is holding things up and you need to overtake.

    Induction kit, advance the timing (8 degrees above TDC I think..), good plugs and leads – it’s nippy enough. Not a lot to choose between 1.6 and 1.8 due to the weight differential. I had the 1.6 but I think I’d go for 1.8 if I were buying again.

    Which I am not. Definitely definitely not. Definitely.

    <searches Autotrader>

    Premier Icon Furious

    I run a mk2.5 as a daily driver and have done for a couple of years. As others have said it’s pretty cheap to run, utterly reliable and also very good fun at ‘normal’ speeds. I have owned and driven faster cars but for a 17 mile cross country commute I really like it.

    Also, in good weather, with the roof down I can fit my bike in the passenger seat with both wheels off (Heckler) and the boot carries my riding gear.

    I’d try to get one with heated seats if possible as then you can drop the roof year round. The heater gets warm enough to melt your shoes and your backside will be toasty. My most memorable drive was in winter across the Yorkshire moors on a crystal clear night, roof down, heater on and a perfect view of the blanket of stars above me.

    Edit: I’m 6’1″ with long legs and am quite comfortable. I ditched the ‘style-bars’ as they’re bugger all use in a crash and it meant I could get my seat fully back.


    I had two mk2.5’s and I’m 6ft1.7.

    The trick is to unscrew the sunvisor (you dont need it)- it frees up another inch of windscreen and move the seat fwd one notch then relax the swab back abit. Perfect.

    Both ^ were my only cars and I owned a Saris bones rack for biking.

    Also look at the MR2 – slightly quicker feeling and more refined to drive day to day.

    D’you know I saw an MR2 of a similar mid 90s vintage while I was looking at MX5s, but it was a turbo which I’d sooner avoid.

    Premier Icon midlifecrashes

    I have a Mk3 Roadster, it looks like this:

    It carries this much shopping.

    Or this much bike:

    Electric hard top takes 28s to go gown or 32s to go up, and I haven’t found the off switch for the grin yet.

    Edit: all that shopping was in the boot, so the bike could have been in at the same time. The roof goes in to a separate compartment, so you get the same boot space open or closed.

    Mrs Monkey is applying for a job that – if she gets it – will mean we’ll need another car. Something reasonably cheap and cheerful and – ideally – fun.

    Thinking about a MK1 MX5, probably mid 90s 1.8. Will it still be fun after commuting on fast, twisty country roads every day or will I come to hate it?

    I think I might’ve answered my own question there. Still, any advice greatly appreciated.

    Premier Icon ourmaninthenorth

    +1 all of the above. We had a mk2.5 Sport for 5 years as our only car and it for everything we did, including several European roadtrips (with bike).

    Highly practical too….

    (the component parts of a 7ft workbench)

    Premier Icon igm

    Plenty of room in them. My wife and I took a mk 2.5 on honeymoon. Three weeks through Spain and France.

    Fine for commuting, especially on backroads. I ran it as a commuter year round. Driving in snow is fun – sideways very easily, but very predictably.

    Still got it 13 years later, though it’s a 3rd car now. Would have been out in it last weekend but I forgot to renew the MoT.

    Premier Icon bruk

    Ran one as my wife’s car for 7 years. Great fun, rarely had to do anything other than routine service on it.

    Was always fun to drive. Took my wife’s Cello in the passenger seat no bother.

    If I had a garage I would buy 1 for a 3rd car in a heartbeat.

    When they get older they do have to have the hood replaced which can vary in quality and worth looking at given age you are suggesting. Make sure you get a working heated rear screen. Otherwise note much difference in performance from 1.6 or 1.8 as stock.

    Huge amount of reasonably cheap mods to be made to them too if that is your thing.


    We have had a 2002 Mk2.5 1.8 for a couple of months now and thoroughly, thoroughly enjoy it. We hoped to find a 1.6 but needed one quickly and couldn’t find a good one nearby. We got ours from the owner’s club site for under 2k including a new tax disc.

    We had a similar situation- wife now needs a car to get to work, Polos/Yarises etc for the same money were grim and beaten up and this had been loved and looked after. I have just done 60 miles to work in it today and it was great- it makes going to work feel like an occasion.

    I am 5’10” with long legs and find it comfortable. It’s very responsive and good up to around 100mph, but it’s not really that kind of a car- it’s more a car for getting the roof down and enjoying twisty stuff.

    We went for a Mk2.5 over a Mk1 because the Mk1s are getting on a bit now and you can get a well loved Mk2 for similar money with a bigger boot, more up to date interior and less work to do. However I was chatting to a Mk1 owner at the weekend and he sounded to have as little bother as we did with his.

    It’s surprisingly practical in terms of kit, all this (a weekend’s race kit, bike, tools, food etc) went in and you can also get a boot lid rack which we are considering for our holiday.

    The big thing we were warned about was ensuring that the sills were rust free, ours has had the sills redone by the previous owner. There are plenty about that have had this done.


    three words…hair care products 🙂


    OP – don’t go for a Mk3. The Mk3 has had its soul taken out. Probably a more competent car than the Mk1 or Mk2 but just doesn’t give the same smiles and fun of the 1 or 2.

    I sold my Mk3 because it was not the car it should have been.

    I cant see the point in the electric roof either. The manual was superb,less than 1 second to open and probably 5 to close.

    MK3 is likely out of budget (around 2k) anyway, but I’ll have a look around at MK2s as well as 1s.


    Oh, as well as sills, check that the timing belt has been done at 60k intervals. Again, plenty about that have had this done.

    Premier Icon jambalaya

    I have to admit these threads have changed my views of the MX5. @midlifecrashe’s car is a beauty and a real steal from what I recall he paid. Having experienced the reliability of Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mitsubishi I have to believe a Mazda will be comparable and an older MX5 seems like a great choice for a fun commuter.

    @Funky – the electric roofs in general are great as they seal better so quieter and warmer in the winter, more secure and less vandal prone.

    Premier Icon timmys

    Disclaimer: I know nothing

    Is a Honda S2000 worth considering as an alternative? That’s what I’ve always fancied if I was in this kind of market.
    Actually, what I’ve really always hankered after is a VX220 Turbo but that’s probably really pushing it as an every day car.

    Premier Icon jambalaya

    @timmy the Honda is a much more “serious” car in terms of performance and engineering, yes you can consider it as an alternative and it can be driven sensibly and be very sedate. The Honda needs high revs to make it come alive which does beg the question as to how second hand ones have been treated.

    Premier Icon GavinB

    MrsB had one for a few years. It was a MkII 2.0 model, so very lively.

    Plus points – easy to get it sideways

    Negatives – v easy to get it sideways in the wet, plus no space for 55kg Rhodesian Ridgeback (he couldn’t really sit on the passenger seat, so ended up trying to climb out and across the drivers seat).

    Also look at the MR2 – slightly quicker feeling and more refined to drive day to day.

    Don’t know which MR2 your referring to but we have one of the last ones and I’d say it’s less refined than an mx5. We have had 2 mx5s over the years and both myself and my girlfriend have commuted in all weathers ( inc snow)

    I love them apart from the mk3 which felt too big and I have a real soft spot for mk1’s.

    I don’t think you will ever tire of driving one, but YOU WILL tire of people making unoriginal hairdresser jokes, mostly from people who drive the bastion of bland an ‘Octy VRS’. Whilst it’s water off a ducks back it does get old very fast.


    Wife’s had a mk 111 for 5 years everyday use for work and weather like this superb . Skittish in wet total crap in the snow but for a couple of days snow per year well worth it manage to get the top down every month of the year. Get one you will love.


    commuted in my Mark 1 1.8is easily enough – nice driving position. 140bh/tonne with a sports air filter and its quick enough. Mine is one of the last 97 Reg and done 78k. Must get round to selling it.

    I bought a mk1 mx5 and loved it as a commuter. It really was great fun. Then I got the chance of a mates-rates Merc SLK 350, my dream car. Even though I love my SLK I still can’t bring myself to sell the Mazda. It’s in the garage and is labelled as my retirement car. I have no doubt it will stay with me still I no longer am able to drive.

    I currently have an Alfa Spider as my work car and I am about to order a Caterham to replace it and so an MX5 seems like a reasonable option. Do it, life’s too short and sensible is rarely the enjoyable or memorable option.

    Scamper… talk to me! I’m in the market for that exact model.


    I’ll drop you a mail tomorrow!


    I’ve got a Mk1 mx5 and for a 20 mile commute if you don’t need to carry much they would be great fun. The paint and body is a bit knackered on mine but that’s not really a worry. One thing I would say if you want to use it a a daily driver in all weather make sure you get one with a hard top and heated window. I’m 6’3″ and it’s pretty small, at some point I intend to do a lotus elise seat conversion which frees up a lot of space.


    I’ve had three Mk1s at various points over the last 10 years. The current incarnation is a 1993 import with a jap body kit on and looks like this:

    Until January I was doing 60+ miles daily on the commute to the station and back. Done without missing a beat.

    Mk1’s suffer from tinworm on the sills and arches but neither a big job to sort, Mk2 rust issues can be more expensive and terminal. Insurance is dirt cheap, they’re grand to drive, easy to maintain and work on, engines will go for 250,000 miles if looked after and if you buy well you shouldn’t lose any money on one should you sell (I sold both prior cars for more than I paid for them).

    Mpg isn’t great compared to ‘modern’ cars but that’s to be expected, especially if you’ve a heavy foot 🙂 I’d have thought the 1.8 would be worse than the 1.6 in this regard. With the use of a boot-rack you can get a surprisingly large amount of kit on board.

    As mentioned previously I’d recommend getting a hard-top, preferably with a heated rear screen – you’ll appreciate it in the wet and cold. And a wind-break thing for when the roof is down – you’d be amazed how much airflow comes back into the car from between the seats.

    Oh, and to go back to the OP : the commute across twisty Sussex roads first thing in the morning, watching the sun rise with the roof down is a nice way to start the day.

    Premier Icon Pz_Steve

    My daily commuter is a 1994 1.8i and my daily commute is 14 miles each way (mainly twisty, narrow b-roads).

    Yes, when I’m tired it can be a bit crashy and bumpy, but I still can’t imagine changing it for anything else. I’m 6ft and whilst there’s masses of leg-room, I do find that I’m a bit short on head room with the hood up. I’ve fitted heated heated seats from a Mk 2.5, though, which are appreciable thicker in the cushion than the originals which doesn’t help. Just as well the roof is rarely up.

    Otherwise it’s brilliant. Great fun on those roads (might be a little under-gunned on more open, A-road type drives), has a cracking heater, and it’s really reliable to boot. An evening drive home in winter, in the dark, with the roof down and the heater on full is joyous thing!

    Also drove to the Alps for the Passportes du Soleil last year, 2-up with bikes and kit. Sure, you need to pack carefully, but the journey just added to a great holiday (Penzance to Les Crosets, via south Wales – 1,000 miles each way and the roof didn’t go up once).

    Just do it….!!

    Premier Icon ourmaninthenorth

    woffle – I like that a lot. Was late for a conference call because I was inspired to head to autotrader to seek out the only car I;ve ever really felt sad about selling*.

    *not incl my first car, a Mini a year older than me which I did loads of work to and left in my parents’ garage, only to return from university one summer to discover they’d sold it….

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