HomePick of the DayPick of the Day: 1991 Mazda Miata

Pick of the Day: 1991 Mazda Miata

Maximum smiles per gallon guaranteed


Last November, our own Jeff Sutton got a chance to experience the latest Mazda Miata. In so doing, he got a little insight into why people say that “Miata Is Always The Answer” (MIATA). Jeff’s story is here.

The Pick of the Day is the car that started it all, a low-mileage first-generation 1991 Mazda Miata listed for sale on ClassicCars.com by a private seller in Ventura, California. (Click the link to view the listing)

“Southern California car,” the listing states. “67,299 original miles. Kept clean, always garaged or covered, one owner.”

The first-generation, or “NA” chassis Miata, was launched for the 1990 model year in the United States. It was assembled in Hiroshima, Japan and offered only as a two-door, two-seat roadster with compact proportions. Weighing in at only about 2,100 pounds without options, it was immediately touted as a tossable and balanced sports car that was track-ready right out of the box. And because of its nimble nature, the Miata could make do with a small 1.6-liter inline-four and only 115 horsepower. The motor sang effortlessly to the 7,200-rpm redline and became a popular platform for tuner modification.

Today’s unmodified example car from 1991 looks as good as one would expect for a 32-year-old vehicle with about 70,000 miles on the odometer. The seller states that the soft top needs repairs, there is a blemish on the windshield, and there is a ding on the driver door (also shown in the photos). The bonus with this car is its rare color-matched removable hardtop, which offers an alternative to the standard-issue black cloth top. The Miata’s sheer simplicity was one of its most endearing traits: The cockpit was intimate, the controls were easy to figure out, and the analog gauges were clearly laid out.

Despite falling into the sports car realm, the Miata had economy-car efficiency: The seller states that this car delivers between 25 and 30 miles per gallon. That makes it a high value in the smiles-per-gallon area.

Jeff stated in his review that the fourth-generation 2022 Miata was “one of the best driving experiences you can have chucking a sports car sideways.” I’m a firm believer that this vintage Miata could also provide the same experience for about half the price.

“Ready for the road,” the listing concludes.

The asking price $16,500 for this well-kept, low-mileage Miata.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Tyson Hugie
Tyson Hugie
Tyson Hugie is a Phoenix-based automotive enthusiast who has been writing for The Journal since 2016. His favorite automotive niche is 1980s and 1990s Japanese cars, and he is a self-diagnosed “Acura addict” since he owns a collection of Honda and Acura cars from that era. Tyson can usually be found on weekends tinkering on restoration projects, attending car shows, or enjoying the open road. He publishes videos each week to his YouTube channel and is also a contributing author to Arizona Driver Magazine, KSLCars.com, NSX Driver Magazine, and other automotive publications. His pride and joy is a 1994 Acura Legend LS coupe with nearly 600,000 miles on the odometer, but he loves anything on four wheels and would someday like to own a 1950 Buick Special like his late grandfather’s.


  1. .I also have a Miata, a 1990 with a later engine. I am the second owner of this 234,000 mile example. It handles like a dream, gets over 32 mpg consistently, uses no oil and it has never, never, been driven in the snow! My only problem is that at my age (86) it is getting more difficult for me to enter and exit this neat car.

  2. Just as an additional comment, the 1990 Miata engine had a weak nose on the crankshaft and it typically failed ( broke off) after the timing belt was replaced the first time. On my car, this is evidenced by the newer engine, radiator and antifreeze stains (which with wax are extremely difficult to see) on the top of the right front fender. Neat Car!!


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