Mazda MX-5 MK1/2 Buying Guide

Engine and Gearbox

Engines in both the MK1 and MK2 are very robust. MK1 cars came with either a 114hp 1.6-litre unit or a more powerful 1.8, putting out 128hp until 1995 when it was upgraded to put out 133hp. MK2 cars also got the same size engines, with the smaller engine putting out 110hp and the bigger 1.8 kicking out 140hp, which was later boosted to 146 in post 2001 cars.

Because of the cars light weight, fuel economy is good. Expect the 1.8 to be slightly more thirsty, but nothing too drastic. All MK1’s and most MK2’s came fitted with a 5 speed manual. A 6 speed was fitted as standard to the 1.8 pre 2001 models, with it becoming an option post 2001.


Overall the structure of both the MK1 and MK2 is very strong. Ensure drain holes aren’t clogged up allowing water to sit and cause corrosion. It isn’t always a bad thing if there has been welding work taken out, as it means it is probably stronger than it ever was.
These cars are quite old now, so check areas like the wheelarches and subframe braces for any signs of rust.


Brakes are a very strong point on the MX-5, due to not having much weight to haul to a halt. Obvious things are check the pads and discs for wear and make sure they have been changed at correct intervals. The odd later MK1 MX-5 came fitted with ABS, with all MK2’s fitted with it as standard.


These tend to be quite a strong point on the MX-5. If the car has a heated screen, check that it works, sometimes this can stop working due to some wiring problems caused by the roof. The electric windows can sometimes stop working, however this is caused by the glass getting stuck inside its rubber runners, a spray of silicon spray will cure this ill.

Steering and Suspension

Steering and suspension is the strongest part of the MX-5 drive-wise. These parts are very reliable too, precautionary checks on the power steering pump lines will be needed to prevent any corrosion.

Check the springs for any cracks and the dampers for any oil leaks.