Home » This Absurdly Nice $40,500 Miata Just Set A Bring A Trailer Record

This Absurdly Nice $40,500 Miata Just Set A Bring A Trailer Record

Gg Mazda Mx 5 Miata Ts
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How much would you pay for a pristine example of the people’s sports car, the original Mazda Miata? On the one hand, because of its egalitarian pricing and rabid aftermarket scene, few remained pristine. On the other hand, it’s a Miata, how expensive could it be? Well, you might want to sit down for this one. A 1990 Mazda MX-5 Miata just sold for $40,500 on Bring A Trailer, and well, holy crap.

For context, you could have almost any generation of Porsche Boxster you want for $40,500, or a Lotus Elise, or an older driver-condition Viper, or at least three mad decent Miatas. However, a mad decent Miata isn’t as nice as this particular Miata. In fact, few likely to trade hands privately are, for this one sports a mere 38 miles on its odometer. Not 38,000, not 3,800, 38.

Vidframe Min Top
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As such, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that this is the most expensive stock NA Miata ever to sell on Bring A Trailer. The next-closest contender was sold during the height of the COVID collector car market for $35,000, considerably less than the $40,500 this one commanded. It’s a crazy figure, a ludicrous sum, and yet it almost makes sense because it comes with some things you just don’t normally see.

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1990 Mazda Mx 5 Miata Img 5727 78321 Scaled Copy

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Not only is the tombstone dash trim uncracked, it’s rocking a deep, satin finish you just don’t normally see because every other example of this part has seen some sun. All the lettering on all the controls is perfect, the hardtop still has its headliner, the shift knob and boot look new, and the differential drain and fill plugs still feature their quality control paint. This car even still wears its original Bridgestone SF-325 tires, and while I’m normally not a fan of that, this thing isn’t getting driven on the street anyway.

1990 Mazda Mx 5 Miata Img 5805 87199 Scaled Copy

This is as close to a brand-new NA Miata as you can possibly get. As such, this auction was a slugfest until the end, with bidders pushing it past the $30,000 mark, then the $35,000 mark, then finally past the $40,000 mark. This wasn’t just an ego battle between two determined individuals, this was an all-out brawl because this Miata isn’t a car anymore — it’s a cultural monument.

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On the one hand, some might see this 38-mile Miata as a bit of a sad tale. Someone bought it brand new, stuck it into storage, didn’t use it for 34 years, auctioned it off, and didn’t even beat inflation. When new, this example stickered for $18,648 including freight. Adjust that for decades of currency devaluation, and you end up with a grand sum of $44,736.37 adjusted for inflation. That’s $5,671.37 more than the most expensive new soft-top MX-5 you can buy, which speaks both to the value of the new car and to how broke we all are.

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Miata 61 99241 Scaled Copy

On the other hand, someone knew exactly how special the rebooted roadster would be. Someone, against all odds, kept one pristine as a reference, a gold standard of exactly what this massively important car was like brand new. How many Miatas have all the stickers in the right locations, all the factory quality control markings on key bolts, and the right un-faded color on the stock daisy wheels? For anyone who wants to restore a Miata in the future, this one is a muse. It takes vision to preserve that.

Miata 65 99304 Scaled Copy

At the end of the day, truly concours-grade examples of common enthusiast cars only pop up once in a blue moon. Car enthusiasm takes all types, and while it can often be hard to understand those who don’t drive their machines, without them, we wouldn’t have cars like this. For now, just bask in its presence. All other Miatas are made for driving, but this one’s been set aside as future proof that the past was a blast.

1990 Mazda Mx 5 Miata Img 5745 78021 Scaled Copy

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1990 Mazda Mx 5 Miata Img 5736 78119 Scaled Copy

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(Photo credits: Bring A Trailer)

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Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
12 days ago

I’m not sure why you’d want a museum piece NA Miata, but guess someone had $40k to burn.

Turbotictac
Turbotictac
12 days ago

I have paid:

1999 – $500(blown engine)
2001 – $800(wrecked, parts)
2001 – $2000 (fuel pump)
2004 Mazdaspeed Miata – $2900 w/oem hardtop(spun bearing)
2004 Mazdaspeed Miata – $2300(wrecked + crusty)
2004 Mazdaspeed Miata(last week) – $2300(wrecked + crusty)

I have been lucky on finding clean ones to keep for exceptionally cheap in good shape. Also once bought an OEM hardtop for $50 off FB marketplace.

VanGuy
VanGuy
11 days ago
Reply to  Turbotictac

$50?! Damn, I’d actually buy some used Miata if I could get a cheap hardtop like that…but most of what I find, they’re asking nearly 4 figures.

Turbotictac
Turbotictac
11 days ago
Reply to  VanGuy

It was a once in a lifetime find. They typically pull 1500+ in decent shape.

JerryLH3
JerryLH3
12 days ago

I could never buy a car and immediately put it away. Well, at least not at my current income bracket. So, while I could never do this, I’m glad a few of these exist because they truly are such special time capsules. You really can’t get the same feeling from even lightly used examples. Hopefully it will be on display somewhere or at least shown so that people can take a trip back to 1990.

Chri$
Chri$
12 days ago

2 years ago I was buying some lightly used Quick Jacks off craigslist. Seller said “see that tarp over there? I have an NA Miata with 620 miles on it. Original everything” I mulled making him an offer for weeks, but there were NO low mileage examples to compare to. This sale sets an interesting bar. I will be reaching back out to him…

Turbotictac
Turbotictac
12 days ago
Reply to  Chri$

A few years ago I saw a test mule Miata with VIN JM1NA0000X0000005(example, I know it had a lot of 0’s and a 5 at the end) for sale with ~30 miles. It was not a street legal car and the VIN showed it as a test mule. I am not sure what it ended up selling for. It had been sitting behind a dealership since the 90s and what not in good shape.

Maymar
Maymar
12 days ago

I sort of get stupid money on a car whose driving experience just can’t be found in a modern car. But paying more for a NA than a brand new ND seems absurd given how devoted to the original mission the Miata’s stayed.

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
12 days ago
Reply to  Maymar

Unless you really, really like pop-up headlights.

InTheBackround
InTheBackround
12 days ago

i really really do

Jj
Jj
12 days ago

No real need for concern. Looking through BAT’s auction results it seems like most valuable Miata is still V8 Miata.

If your choice is between putting one in a bubble and preserving it or tearing it up to fit an LS and driving it, the LS is still the sensible choice.

Robot Turds
Robot Turds
12 days ago

This is….. stupid. So what are you gunna do? Sit it in the living room? Because as soon as you drive this, get a scratch, get a fender bender, get it dirty that $40,000 price and value drops fast. So congrats: $40,000 for a 1-ton paper weight.

Jj
Jj
12 days ago
Reply to  Robot Turds

I think that’s exactly where this is going to end up. It’s a great candidate for a living room display car since it’s small and not that valuable.

Eric Gonzalez
Eric Gonzalez
11 days ago
Reply to  Robot Turds

Car museums exist too

Jj
Jj
12 days ago

One one hand, I get the price. You can own the best example of a car for under $50k. That’s a big draw for some people. I happened to be on BAT watching while this auction ended.

On the other hand, I don’t feel like this is the only super low mile NA to be auctioned off in the past few years. I don’t know that the one here is the best or last one of these available. It seems like a few people bought these and warehoused them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if another couple find there way to the auction after this result.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
12 days ago

I sort of get this from an enthusiasts perspective but it seems like a horrible way to spend your money still. I don’t know if the possible re-sale value is ever going to beat inflation,it’s not like this is a Ferrari or something.

Ppnw
Ppnw
12 days ago

Ok I don’t usually love this kind of thing but this one is amazing. The NA wasn’t built with the best materials (at least the cosmetic stuff) so none of them look like this anymore.

It really helps you understand why it was such a big deal when it came out. I have an NB and seeing this time capsule with modern photography (as opposed to contemporary press materials/magazines) is really cool.

Geo Metro Mike
Geo Metro Mike
12 days ago

Bought a lottery ticket last week for a long shot opportunity to outbid the BaT affluent on a piece of automotive perfection. The numbers didn’t come in, but that’s ok. My hail damaged, highway pitted, sun bleached car collection looks pretty good without my glasses.

MGA
MGA
12 days ago

I like this take.

NosrednaNod
NosrednaNod
12 days ago

That was a bad investment.

Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
12 days ago

After watching way too many hours of Barrett-Jackson over the years, this feels kind of like a bargain. I had a chance to buy a near-perfect first-year white one with 33,000 miles on it for $7500 a year or two before Covid hit. I knew it was a good deal, but just didn’t feel like dropping the cash at the time. My daughter hates it when I tell her that story as current Miata prices are what got her into Corvettes.

Lincoln Clown CaR
Lincoln Clown CaR
12 days ago

 stuck it into storage, didn’t use it for 34 years, auctioned it off, and didn’t even beat inflation.

30-ish years from now there are going to be hundreds of Hellcats in the same situation.

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
12 days ago

Nah, they’ll be in worse condition due to the dealer mark-ups.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
12 days ago

I’m sure that there are more old Ferraris in this condition (that would be two or more) than there are Miatas.
I’m even more sure that there are way more (hundreds ?) old never driven Corvettes.

I’m sure that the new owner thinks it is a bargain.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
12 days ago

I recently drove the Mazda UK press fleet Miata (not the first time I’ve driven one, but the first for quite a while) and it was shit. Slow, soft, boaty and it didn’t even sound that good. Brilliant gear shift though.

NAMiata
NAMiata
12 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Not for nothing, Adrian, but the same can be said about the Mondial, and my Miata only cost $3500.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
12 days ago
Reply to  NAMiata

i didn’t mean it necessarily as a criticism, maybe my expectations were too high. Like I said it’s at least twenty years since I drove one. I went out with a girl that had one so I drove hers quite a lot, and remember liking it at the time. Maybe it was a poor example, but seeing as it’s on the press fleet I would think it’s well looked after. But I was just underwhelmed by it, and they’ve been hyped up a lot in the intervening years.
Probably didn’t help I just driven an ND about an hour before hand. I did have an NC of my own for three years, and a few spec issues aside loved that.

Last edited 12 days ago by Adrian Clarke
Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
12 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

I feel like a stock NA doesn’t hold up well anymore, but the platform is just so ready and willing to be fixed up and parts are still somewhat cheap. You can throw on some coilovers and sway bars for like $2k which completely transform it, then if you want to stiffen the chassis significantly, that can be done for less than $1k and then you have a very capable car. Still slow, but it’ll handle as well as anything else. I traded my NA that all I had done was the coilovers for a Lotus Elise, and while I did not get to drive them back to back, I feel like the Miata was 80-90% as good as the Elise and I bought it for 10% of the price. At $40k, hell no, but a cheap one is still a great value, just don’t expect it to excel without some upgrades.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
12 days ago
Reply to  Brandon Forbes

yeah I should have elaborated a bit more in my original comment. At a few thousand they make sense, and can come alive relatively cheaply. At forty for a standard one makes no sense whatsoever. And my Mondial would eat a standard Miata alive.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
12 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Eh it’s a museum piece, they always trade for excessive prices and I don’t mind a few pristine examples trading hands at insane values just because I like to see a few preserved.

Davedave
Davedave
12 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Talking of how impressions of cars change in over the years, I find it endlessly amusing that someone who looks like you has a Mondial. When I was a kid, getting taken to Ferrari Owners’ Club meets, they were pretty tragic, and the preserve of unsuccessful accountants. (It always seems like the majority of Ferrari owners are accountants. But the successful ones can afford the decent stuff.)

Joe L
Joe L
11 days ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

I had a 1990 Miata with a Flyin’ Miata turbo kit, all kinds of suspension and chassis stiffening work done, serious rollbar, most of the sound deadening removed (not my choice, a thief cut the convertible top to steal a shitty CD player that was worth maybe $40, and it rained before I noticed, so the wet crap all had to come out), 15×7″ wheels and those awesome old Falken Azenis 415s in a 225 section width, all topped off with Wildwood from discs and calipers with stainless steel brake lines. After some tuning, it pushed out about 235 hp at the wheels on the 1.6L, stock bottom end and cams but with some headwork done. Mazda did use this motor in their Familia/323 rally cars, after all. This would be back in around 2009. I’d never driven anything faster from 0-80, and it was the aerodynamics that kept it from still pulling really hard above that. I had it weighed and it came in just under 2,100 lbs.

I never did street racing, but I will say that not once did I ever have another car catch up to me on a long on-ramp. I’m sure that would be different these days.

It was an old-school turbo, so it was definitely a “floor it and make sure the wheel is pointed straight after a ‘one-one-thousand'” kind of car, though obviously was easier to control than, say, an old 911 Turbo, due to the mass distribution. I definitely didn’t drive it nearly as fast in corners as someone with real skill could do, but as long as you didn’t trail-brake at corner entry, you could let it settle, aim for the apex, and ease into the throttle, SLOWLY, so full boost would hit right when you straightened the wheel.

The weak point in the older Miatas is the 5-speed Mazda Type-M transmission. Mazda’s R-Type 5-speed came in the RX-7 Turbo and the B2600 pickups, but they used the lighter M-type to save weight, space, and probably cost for the Miata. This is perfectly fine on a stock Miata, but it is NOT rated for the torque a turbo’d one can make. The later 6-speed is considered not as fun to drive – they kind of just jammed another ratio in there that was probably only useful for Spec Miata races on tight tracks. But, it was much stronger. This was consequential.

One day, I was merging onto I-95, back when I lived and worked on the East Coast. I was doing one of my classic third-gear onramp blitzes. I floored the throttle, got the one-one-thousand worth of turbo whine, then BLAM!

At first I blew the engine – I knew sooner or later, 15 psi of boost* would break something. But as I made sure to move to the hard shoulder, I noticed that, which I was hearing an ungodly cacophany – not unlike a rock tumbler – the engine was at idle. I’d slowed considerably, so I put it in second gear, and the car would accelerate normally. I skipped third and went to fourth – same thing. Finally, I slid back into third, blipped the throttle, and all I got was a sound akin to the world’s largest dentist drill.

I soon learned that third gear is the weak link in the M-type transmission, and I had basically stripped the teeth off the gear and scattered them inside the transmission.

The upshot was that I found a 6-speed transmission from (I think) the 20th Anniversary Edition, that had been totaled with less than 6,000 miles on it, for $900. But what about shipping? One does not simply UPS such a thing. But it turns out that, for about $80, Greyhound would ship it to the local depot. That transmission lasted just fine – as did pretty much everything else – until I had to sell it in 2012. I was moving to California, and there was absolutely no way to take that car with me, due to CA’s emissions laws.

Every time I drive up PCH or the Ortega Highway, I miss that car.

Joe L
Joe L
11 days ago
Reply to  Joe L

Oh, and I forgot the punchline. That thing cost me $7500 – mostly already built.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
12 days ago

I hate this shit. This isn’t some incredibly rare car that they only made 50 of. It’s a fucking Miata…a car that’s supposed to accessible to all and joyful to drive. It’s not a Bugatti that was made bespoke for some heir that’s going to be mothballed with 77 other cars.

It’s. A. Miata. NAs are great and important cars. Unfortunately we’ve lost a lot of them to the tuner wars. I think it’s valid that unmolested examples are worth $15-20,000 or so. I learned to drive stick on an NA. They’re a hoot.

…but they’re meant to be driven. By everyone and anyone. They’re here to spread the gospel of the lightweight, RWD, manual, wind in your hair motoring nirvana. I hate it when cars that are vanity pieces for the 1% never get driven, but I at least understand it. They’re investments at that level.

…but a goddamn NA Miata that didn’t even really appreciate once inflation is factored in? Fuck you. This deserves to be driven and has lived a miserable life. I loathe how BAT has turned all sorts of regular cars into collector fodder. That’s not what any of this is about.

That being said, on a more pleasant note someone had a Cayman GT4 RS out during my HPDRE day at the track this weekend. He certainly wasn’t driving it at anywhere near 10/10ths, but at least it was out on a racetrack and not sitting in a garage. That made me really happy to see.

V10omous
V10omous
12 days ago

In general I agree with this stance but I don’t think it’s a war crime to have a couple preserved in like-new condition. After all, museums and manufacturers often do just that.

The fact that this didn’t even keep up with inflation, let alone 35 years of an index fund return should be another piece of evidence discouraging people from hoarding pristine cars as investments. Even McLaren F1s don’t beat the S&P 500.

Ariel E Jones
Ariel E Jones
12 days ago
Reply to  V10omous

Not to mention the cost to keep a car over that time. Much less a McLaren F1. I think cars are generally a risky investment.

NAMiata
NAMiata
12 days ago

Amen, brother. It’s a Miata, not some painting to be hung on a wall and stared at. There was a great article by someone who drove his all winter discussing how he may be driving his Miata to its death, but that’s what it was born for.

Jj
Jj
12 days ago

This Miata was stashed away by it’s weirdo original owner decades before BAT existed. Don’t blame them for this guy’s strange choices.

I don’t think we’ve necessarily lost other to tuning. These have always been a bit of a blank canvas open to end-user modification. It’s not like there were five of these. Mazda has made well over a million of them at this point. They can still be found in every condition and level of modification – and since most were garage-kept summer cars they’re still in good shape.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
12 days ago

The problem is this has never been driven and the only road it will see is as it rolled into the garage and no one can look at for fear of eyeball related wear and tear.

These are meant to be driven.

Alexk98
Alexk98
12 days ago

And now we’ll start seeing 155k mile, heavily modified NAs with shredded soft tops being listed on Facebook Marketplace for 13-15k because “hey it’s a bargain compared to this *totally comparable* car.

That said I think the market for clean, low mileage NAs will continue to to creep up, as it has slowly been doing. Sure rough ones will likely gain 10-20% in value over the next few years, but 10% on a 4500 beater isn’t much. Production of NAs was high, but nice ones are increasingly thin on the ground, and I think the market is starting to reflect that, as is deserved.

Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
12 days ago
Reply to  Alexk98

Yup… not unlike the early 2000’s muscle-car boom-times. Suddenly clapped-out rusty 4-door Plymouths from the early 70’s that would have brought $1000 on their best days starting sprouting price tags north of $10K at swap meets and what not. Made me glad I preferred old Cadillacs at the time.

Jj
Jj
12 days ago

I am curious to see what happens with Muscle car and hot rod prices as boomers die off.

J Money
J Money
12 days ago
Reply to  Jj

I can assure you it’s not only boomers who love muscle cars.

Jj
Jj
12 days ago
Reply to  J Money

Yes, but I assume there are a bunch of these cars sitting in Boomer garages right now – almost all of them will find their way into the market, and a lot of them are 90’s builds which have not aged well (So much billet and tweed).

The muscle cars I’ve seen selling well lately seem to be recent build pony car restomods.

Vanillasludge
Vanillasludge
12 days ago

It’s cool that this exists, but no thanks.

Every foot you push it across the garage will stress you out.

This makes more sense for the Ferrari market, where 38 miles is just about the time for the first engine out service.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
12 days ago
Reply to  Vanillasludge

I am sure the owner will put it on rollers to minimize moving the odo.

Joe L
Joe L
13 days ago

This is too perfect to use, unless A) you’re a museum, B) this is going in Mazda USA’s collection, or C) you just really want to drive a brand new Miata from 1990. If it’s C, they paid a premium for that privilege that will evaporate quickly with use, but I suppose that if you want a brand new 1990 Miata, it’s not much more expensive than a 2024 Miata.

Harvey Firebirdman
Harvey Firebirdman
12 days ago
Reply to  Joe L

Yeah crazy price unless you are just collecting it. At that price if you really want a new 90 Miata why not buy a slightly used one and used the money saved and restore it to stock with all new OEM parts? Me personally rather have a 24 RF

Joe L
Joe L
12 days ago

There are definitely issues with some old Mazda parts simply no longer being available from the OEM, and finding NOS parts is a crapshoot, though I’d imagine the NA Miata might be easier than most, especially given Mazda has a restoration service for these and FD RX-7s. The service is only available in Japan but I think you can order the parts.

I concur on wanting an ND Miata, but mine would either be a brand new soft top Club in Soul Red, or a 2019 30th Anniversary edition in that beautiful orange color.

Jj
Jj
12 days ago

You would have to replace or restore every piece of the car to match this one, and it still would not be authentic as it left the showroom. It would take years if you did it yourself or cost more than this auction car if you paid someone else to do it.

In the end the car would be less valuable than an all-original example and you still wouldn’t want to street drive it after that level of restoration.

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