Friday, January 20, 2012

Miata Mania - The Sickness Spreads

To paraphrase Lay's potato chips and their "betcha can't eat just one" tagline, it seems that my Miata addiction is not unlike an addiction to junk food - I can't *have* just one. Like a potato chip, Miatas are cheap, plentiful and far-too-easy to buy. Especially when one is grossly-underpriced.

I've been hitting Craigslist for the past few months, looking for odds-and-ends to pick up for my car. Things like wheels, trim bits, hard tops and complete, wrecked cars have piqued my interest and been chased down from time-to-time. Searching both the auto parts classifieds and the cars for sale by owner (with a max price of $2k) have netted some interesting finds. Including this silver '91:

I wasn't at all in the market for another complete and straight Miata, but the listing was too appealing - and the ad had only been posted about an hour prior to me seeing it. Thankfully the car was close to work, so I borrowed the shop truck and drove over to take a look. What I saw I liked; for the most part at least.
This woman approached me during my test drive and asked if I was selling it -
turns out she owns a yellow Miata.

Yes it's another '91, but the car has far more options than the elemental and pure red base model car I already had. Factory-equipped with air conditioning and anti-lock brakes. Plus, as a "B" package, this car also featured power steering, power windows, cruise control, alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, factory headrest speakers and a power antenna (no longer present on this car). Every option except the desirable limited-slip rear differential. None of these options matter much to me. Living in coastal northern San Diego County, I have little use for these comfort and convenience options and prefer the feedback provided by the manual steering in the red car. But all are good to have for future resale, should the time come.

Not only was this a relatively-loaded specimen, but it was also a clean, low-mileage (102k) car that was being sold by the original enthusiast owner. She loved the car, but got spooked after getting grazed by a lifted pickup truck on a local freeway exit ramp in late 2010.

After the incident, she drove home and parked the garage. That would be the last time she drove the car. She now drives a boring Nissan Murano. Not realizing the true market value, she priced the car closer to the blue-book value and hoped for the best.

A brief test drive made my decision to purchase easy. It had fewer squeaks than the red car, a less-faded interior and the top was newer and had been replaced with a unit with a glass rear window. A tonneau cover was also included - all major plusses. However, the tires were cracked and worn down to the wear bears. And the paint, while in a preferred and less-flashy silver, wasn't as nice as on the red car. The oil filter was dated Feb '09, but the oil still looked okay. No matter, it was a major deal at her asking price. So that's what I offered.

I had sold a mountain bike the previous weekend, so I had most of the cash on-hand. A trip to the bank the next morning secured the balance.

Since the registration had expired, and since the seller had a few extra, unused tows from her annual AAA membership, she offered to have the car flat-bedded the five miles to my house, free of charge.

It was home 24 hours after first laying eyes on it.  Then I started making plans.
To be continued...


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