MX5 Project

MX5 Project, Jan-2022

Won this cheap 1.8L MX5 Mk 3 from Ebay – long MoT, good hood, spotless interior, only 62,500 miles.

It has problems, though – mainly rust & bodywork but there’s also a number of mechanical issues, some of which were quickly fixed and some will be fixed in the long term.

When I got it home and inspected it, found that the front tyres were different makes from some unknown manufacturers. The tread was also split in a few areas. Replaced these with Toyo Proxes – a good value tyre. The rear tyres are also unknown makes but there’s plenty of tread and both are the same at least, so will live with them for now. Also found that one of the front anti-roll bar drop-links had broken off completely. With the tyres & ARB sorted, the handling is pretty good although still feels a bit lardy. New springs/shocks or coilovers are a possible future mod.

The clutch pedal needed pushed into the carpet before disengaging. First suspected the clutch was worn out but discovered there’s an adjustment at the pedal that sets the travel and bite point. Once the adjustment was done, clutch now operates normally.

Then there’s a loud clatter from the top of the engine on the first start of the day – possibly a case of oil draining away from the top, causing the cam gear to run ‘dry’ for a few seconds on starting. I’ve ordered a genuine Mazda oil filter as they’re said to have a stronger anti drain-back mechanism than your ordinary Purolator or non-OEM filter. For now, I’m cranking the engine with accelerator to the floor for 5 seconds (this inhibits the injectors, so engine won’t start), then starting the engine normally. This cures the problem.

It came with only one key and I discovered that a replacement would cost around £180+ from an auto-locksmith or even more from a dealer (I’ve read about quotes in the region of £250). However, after reading through various forums, I found out how to do it yourself for less than half that cost – I’ll post on this separately.

The gearchange was really disappointing – notchy & unpleasant to use, not what I expected from an MX5. Found out that this isn’t uncommon and noticed that Bofi Racing recommend Redline MT90 for this reason. I have some left over from a previous project, so I’ll change the gear oil in the near future.

The big issue is rust. The car already has some MoT welding done on the rear sills – so that’ll need to be checked and maybe re-done if bodged. The front & rear subframes and suspension components are extremely rusty along with the chassis mounting points. The plan is to run the car until the MoT runs out in September, then remove the subframes, suspension, etc, and get the whole underside repaired & treated. There’s also some bubbling on the front wings, so that’ll get treated also.

Lastly for now, the headlights suffered from the common cloudiness that affect many plastic lens covers. Had some T-Cut to hand and after 5 minutes work on the driver’s side, the difference was amazing…