Depreciation Station: 2006–’15 Mazda MX-5


Written by David S. Wallens

From the Sept. 2016 issue

Posted in Buyer's Guides

It might not come from Maranello or Stuttgart, but the third-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata is simply an amazing sports car–just the right size, a nearly perfect chassis, and plenty of power managed by a real manual transmission. And with an MSRP starting around $25,000, it’s a heck of a buy, too.

Looking to spend even less? Cast your eyes to the previous generation. Mazda produced their NC-chassis Mazda MX-5 from 2006 up until last year, meaning there are lots of good cars out there. Prices start somewhere around $5000, and each one of them delivers top-down motoring.

That generation of the MX-5 also boasts enough racing pedigree to fill a museum. It’s a cornerstone of SCCA autocross and club racing, has won big in the pro ranks, and formed the basis for a spec road race series backed by the manufacturer itself.

No matter which model year selected, the basics remain the same. Mazda’s proven 2.0-liter MZR engine provides power, with most cars getting a manual transmission sporting either five or six speeds. While a little bigger than the first two Miata generations–as well as the current one-the NC car is still smaller than most of its contemporaries. Inside it’s comfortable for two.

Big news arrived for 2006 with the availability of the optional Power Retractable Hard Top. Press a button and the MX-5 turns into a highway-ready coupe. The power top adds less than 80 pounds to the car, and Mazda engineers managed that feat without sacrificing any trunk volume.

The biggest update across the board came for the 2009 model year, with a slight horsepower bump accompanied by a more aggressive nose. These later cars fetch a little more money, so we offer our standard Miata-buying advice: Buy the best one available for your budget and enjoy.

Care & Feeding

Flyin’ Miata specializes in Mazda’s MX-5 Miata, and the company’s Keith Tanner shared some practical advice:

Weakest area: The stock shocks, even the optional Bilsteins, are underdamped. That’s easily addressed. Do springs and sways at the same time to fully exploit the chassis.

The later the car, the better the stock suspension. The 2013–’15 Club is the car to get if you can swing it, as the car was well sorted at that point.

The engine got forged internals in 2009, so if you’re looking at boost these later ones are a better choice than the 2006–’08 cars.

I don’t have a problem with either the five- or six-speed, but the latter is a lot more common. Instead, I’d make sure the car has a limited-slip differential.

Some models have height adjustable seats.

There are no real dogs in the line, so you can choose your car based on the color, styling and history instead of hunting down a specific model.

First three things to do: Fix what’s broken, swap in good springs and shocks, get some good wheels and tires. Drop the top and enjoy.


Flyin’ Miata
(970) 464-5600

Good-Win Racing
(858) 775-2810

Moss Miata
(800) 642-8295

The Parts Group
(386) 446-0051

Treasure Coast Miata
(772) 263-3142

Join Free
Join our community to easily find more Mazda articles.

Reader comments:

You'll need to log in to post.

The Latest

Classic Motorsports Car Catcher: Mini Cooper 970 S

22 hours ago in News

It's one of the rarest Mini Cooper's on the market.

Classic Motorsports Car Catcher: Ever Seen a Nissan Figaro?

3 days ago in News

These cars we only available for one model year, and only in Japan.

Get Your Subscription Combo Deals!

3 days ago in News

Get both our magazines for the price of one!

All-American Icon: A Camaro We Met at Sebring

4 days ago in Articles

Like many IMSA GT cars of the ’80s and ’90s, it’s based on a tube-frame chassis.

Restoration Impossible: Ordering the Final Parts

5 days ago in Project Cars

We order the last of the needed parts to complete our Lotus Elan restoration.

Smoky Mountain Tour: Enjoying America's Best Driving Roads

6 days ago in News

We spent a week enjoying the North Carolina mountains with a group of friends.

Period Perfect Porsche

6 days ago in Articles

This Porsche 356 raises the stakes of period correctness to a whole new level.

Mlassic Motorsports Magazine

Subscribe Today

Also get your instant access to the digital edition of Classic Motorsports Magazine!

Learn More