One of the Not £2 Grand teamsters has bought himself a new car – a Mazda MX-5. We’ve called it Project 5, because we’re tired and can’t think of anything better. Sorry. Anyway, over to Mark Longland who’s taken the MX-5 plunge…
Readers and esteemed car fans alike, I am beyond ecstatic to announce that I have bought a motor vehicle of the Not £2 Grand variety. A silver, 1.8, 1993 ‘L’ reg Mazda Eunos Roadster is mine. I’ve wanted one for ages and recently the stars aligned enabling me getting one.
But in true N2G fashion, the thrill of the purchase isn’t the end of the excitement. There are many, many more miles to come, each with their own tale and myriad of emotions behind them. The Pollitt has been kind enough to let me share these with you and I’m aiming to get a post out every month (work and other adventures permitting) as to how the car is running and whether tinkering has happened. This is provided you’re still even reading this far. Which, if you are THANKS but this is probably as good as my werds an stuffs gets. You have been warned.
Pride and joy!
Before I delve into buying the Eunos, it’s worth adding some context to my current car ‘fleet’ of one. I’ve been running an RX-8 as my daily since 2013. That said, the car has only just gone over 43,000 miles and is in really good condition, even if I do say so myself. I want to keep this in as good a condition as I can, so I said to myself that I would SORN it before the end of the year and scratch some choddy N2G itches at the same time. If the right motor came along I may even get to tinker, too.
Furthermore, my partner and I have been using her car as our ‘main’ car for visiting family, shops, doing the less exciting stuff. It keeps the miles low on the RX and also stops me from going bankrupt (did you know the Wankel eats a tank of fuel for breakfast?) However, our main car was a K12 Micra. Hardly a brown trousers car and not always appropriate for the jobs we’ve asked of it – but still better than the RX. The Micra was starting to die so we recently upgraded to something which will serve us well into being Proper Grown-Ups (it’s a solid, diesel C-segment hatch, if you must know).
In my pursuit for a new old car, several candidates were on The List. Subaru Legacy, Subaru Forrester, Audi A2, Saab 93 convertible, Volvo 850… it was all there. Pollitt even convinced me into looking at TX1 London taxis for a while. For the record, I was very keen on this idea, however She was very noisy at the prospect of having a cab sat on the drive. Grumpy face. But with the sensible car sorted, I began thinking of the smaller and less practical motors on the list. And here’s the thing. I’ve wanted an MX-5 for years. Before I even had the RX-8. I remember trying to convince my parents that getting a Mk1 or Mk2 MX-5 was the ideal car for me as a learner driver. And yes, I am a bit strange. As a 17-year old, wanting a rust-box hairdressers car was a goal.
Driven by ‘Sylvia Cuts’ – hairdresser and JDM fan.
With a N2G budget I was never going to find an MX that works perfectly and could display on the Concourse at the same time. But an appetite for both tinkering and long-term investment meant a car with a solid structure and mechanicals would drastically outweigh one in need of cosmetic changes.
Many an internet search led to finding a specialist to who offer a full service and rust removal/repair as part of any sale. A ‘Eunos’ Mk1 was with them and for sale. Silver, JDM import (hence Eunos), and apparently very clean. I ventured over to the premises and was met by… nothing. The car wasn’t there, still in a lock-up off site somewhere. Two hour drive for nothing. Hmph.
However he recognised my disappointment and stayed to show me exactly what he ‘does’ to the cars he puts through his shop. Inside there were three MX-5s, all at various stages of the process. One cut open at the back panels and sills, looking something akin to a Mad Max film; a second freshly welded awaiting a smooth-over and fresh paint; and the third absolutely ready to go. Then something caught my eye on the wall – a full storyboard of pictures for a nut-and-bolt Mazda RX-3 rebuild. I later found out this car was bought directly from him by Mazda to go in their UK Heritage Fleet. Yeah, OK, maybe this guy knows a thing or two.
It was at that point I did something I’d not done before. Put a deposit down on a car I hadn’t seen, hadn’t driven. At that point I didn’t even know the registration! It was a fully refundable deposit, should the car not be what I was after, etc. Unlikely, though. Had I had free reign over a choice of Mk1, it would have been a silver JDM import 1.8 ’93 onwards that made the grade anyhow. Lucky, yes. Stupid, maybe.
We shook hands and I agreed to come back at the weekend for a test drive.
What? I didn’t see it.
Allow me to summarise the test drive:
It felt as tight as a drum. No rattles, no squeaks, everything as it should be. Christ the gearbox felt new and it has 158,000km on the clock! The brakes were a little crunchy but that went as the test drive went on, likely just some rust on the discs. Other than that it revved like a good’un. I’m not entirely sure, but I even think there’s a little bit of a burble from the exhaust – maybe an aftermarket unit? Or maybe just wishful thinking.
I will add at this point that I did calm down and do the usual inspection-type-stuff. Had a good, long poke around the car. Nothing untoward at all. The guy even put it on the ramp for me and I managed to have a look underneath. It has certainly been used but it is definitely all metal.
As part of the deal I was getting the surface rust on the arches and sills repaired and fully painted, as well as a full service – and I mean full service. All the fluids, fresh brake pads, air filter, fuel filter, plugs, the lot. Only thing I didn’t get was new HT leads, but they’re generally good for 30k miles on an MX-5 and they were done last year.
So, where’s the bad stuff? How come I got all this for £2k all in? Well. The interior is pretty shagged. It’s all original so looks good, but has definitely done the job and then some… It was also completely filthy, inside and out. SO was reluctant to get in for the test drive because it was that bad. Carpets are threadbare and hanging off in places; headunit is OK but temperamental; both seats are original and showing it; speakers are very meh; and the vinyl roof is in need of replacement soon. Lastly, up close the paintwork does leave a lot to be desired. It’s clearly had several resprays at different times in its life, and over a range of different panels and angles. Looks great from afar though.
That said, none of this scares me. I’m willing to tinker. I know one end of a hammer from the other. But welding is a definite no-no. The car fits exactly with the philosophy – solid structure and mechanicals, but with the time and patience to steadily invest in the aesthetic stuff it can grow to be My Creation.
Interior was grim & smelly. Think Old Person’s Home on a hot, humid day when they’ve all just had chilli con carne for lunch. You’re welcome.
The week just dragged. Work was difficult enough without the endless creeping anticipation of collecting mah weeelz on Saturday morning. Funnily enough we collected my partners car on the Thursday night and her lift over to collect the Eunos was a good opportunity to give that a run out.
Never been so happy to see a car in all my life. I know it isn’t perfect. I know it’s just a little Eunos. But that is what got me all the more excited – the prospect of what I can make it, the journeys I’ll have with it, the memories it will create.
Car was nearly as promised. All the work had been carried out. But unfortunately the mechanic had pulled the zip clean off the plastic rear window on the hood, meaning I wouldn’t be able to have the roof up without a massive windy gap into the back of the cabin. Bum ache. However there was a solution – I’ve been lent a hardtop until I can go back and have a new vinyl hood fitted, hence why some of the pictures have a hardtop on.
The drive back was nothing short of epic. It was a fairly long affair, nearly two hours and most of that on the M62. The car definitely isn’t meant for long distance cruising. It’s not impossible, just definitely need breaks along the way. But the best bit by far was at the other end of the journey. 10 minutes from home. Only B-roads. Slightly damp from recent rain. You know the rest. Grinning so much my face genuinely hurt when I got back.
First things first. It needed a Chuffing Good Clean. I got back from pick-up on Saturday afternoon, raided the cleaning supplies, and got cracking. The car was made in 1993 and, by my calculations, I reckon the last time it was cleaned was 1993. The amount of crud that came off it was incredible, at times wretch inducing. Much dirt, entire decayed trees, strange smells, and suspect Human Slime. After only 30 minutes of holding my breath it was already looking miles better. However due to us having other weekend commitments I couldn’t do anymore. I packed up and headed down to the see the Folks ready for the BTCC rounds at Silverstone on the Sunday.
Cleaning continued on Monday. Hired a Generic Industrial Cleaning Implement and blitzed the interior and boot. 24 years of utter meng, all gone in one go.
With the Eunos now fit for human use, what to do with it?
I’ve been saving pictures of MX-5 builds I like the look of for three years now. Save them all on my phone. There are some reasonably stock ones, there are some heavily modified ones, each giving me ideas of what I might fancy. But I’m still at odds with my own thoughts. It’s a stock and reasonably good condition Mk1 Eunos – there can’t be many left, so do I really want to start messing with something that ought not be messed with?
Summat like this, perhaps?
This is also before considering the time and cost. Do I really have the resources to start doing a full job on it?
But regardless of what I decide, there are some things that definitely need attention, regardless of what I go for.
First and foremost, the hood needs replacing. There’s a way forward with it, getting a brand new fitted when I return the hardtop I was lent.
Second, another damn good clean. Call me Captain OCD, but I reckon it could go for another scrub. SO is definitely resistant to getting in it at the moment for fear of catching diphtheria.
Third, new speakers. Boy needs his tunes.
Fourth. New front grill and change the number plate. The one underneath isn’t in great condition – job done though, as the radiator behind looks good. Ordered a black stainless one, you can’t see it anyway so a stealthy black one feels like a nice touch. On the number plate, hoping I can follow Dan Trent (@trent_dan) and get a self-adhesive one across the front bumper. Might require a little filler on the bumper from the fixings, so we’ll see what’s do-able. Whilst I’m at it I’ll be taking one of the towing eyes off. You don’t need two, looks silly.
Five. New badges. Easy job and will immediately make the car look fresher. Except I’m not doing the front one yet. £60 for a Eunos badge. Maybe next paycheck.
Lastly, and above all, it definitely definitely needs more noise. The stock sound is OK for a four pot and there’s a nice little burble around the 2,500-3,000rpm mark. After that, though, things sound a little wheezy and gutless. I know what sound I’m after. Pretty stock sound up to 3,500rpm so I can be a responsible neighbour and not a lout. After that and I want it raspy and racey, ideally with pops and bangs on the overrun. Any ideas and suggestions to this are welcome.
As for the rest of my ideas? I have a vision of my Eunos being silver with black and yellow accents. Black stripes down the side, yellow calipers, black wheels with a silver rim, black front splitter, lowered by 30mm or so. New black leather seats. Oh, with yellow seatbelts and instrument dials.
I dunno. Maybe that’s too Cheshire. Right now it’s just an idea. In the meantime I’m going to enjoy it as is, get the immediate gripes sorted, and keep revving the nads off it.
Next update likely to be soon. Free weekend, the Devil making work for idle hands, etc.