The Cute Miata Is Getting More Expensive

Hannah DeWitt
Jan 19, 2022 · 4 min read
True to its "Zoom Zoom" tagline, Mazdas are some of the zippiest cars to drive no matter what engine is inside. The cute, compact designs of some of these vehicles also make them very popular among the younger generation. Best of all, most Mazdas are reliable enough to last well over 200,000 miles with proper maintenance.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata is one of the best examples of all of these qualities. According to Hagerty, both its design and reliability make it an excellent purchase for new drivers. The Miata is still one of the automaker's most successful models, but we're giving the spotlight to the first-generation version.
A light blue ‘90s Miata in a warehouse with its headlights on
The Miata is thought to be one of the best sports cars ever made.

The history of the Miata

When it was first revealed at the Chicago Auto Show, the press raved about it so much that reservations quickly sold out. Released in 1990, the Mazda Miata came equipped with a peppy four-cylinder engine. It was capable of putting out 115 horsepower and 100 lb-ft of torque.
That might seem underpowered, but it actually feels like a fast car on the road, even while you're driving the speed limit. Most Miatas came with either a five-speed or six-speed manual transmission. Both were designed to be extremely light and have smaller gear patterns, eliminating the frustration associated with stick shifts. 
A four-speed automatic was offered, but it was less popular because it reduced the engine's horsepower output. It also couldn't have the optional limited-slip differential like the manual gearbox.
A few years later, a new engine was added that produced 133 horsepower and 114 lb-ft of torque. Several new standard features were also included, like an AC system and a stereo. Some higher trims also received added chassis bracing, making the vehicle safer.
Still, the original Miata from 1990 is iconic even without the upgrades. It has distinguishable flip-up headlights and it was offered standard with a ragtop roof. Interestingly, those that grew up with this model tend to gravitate more towards the later generations of the Miata.

Is the 1990 Mazda Miata a good first car?

On the other side of the coin, the old-school Mazda Miata has seen a boost in popularity with the Gen Z crowd. These roadsters are perfectly sized for a night on the town, and its gas mileage is pretty good. The stick shift is also fun to operate without having too much of a learning curve. 
The list of features is very basic by today's standards, but at least it has a working airbag. Parents will definitely appreciate the lack of a distracting center touchscreen. The 1990 Miata is also a cheap restoration project, though test subjects are becoming increasingly rare.

How much does a ‘90s Miata cost?

The ‘90s Miata's affordable price tag was one of its biggest draws for younger drivers with smaller budgets. According to Hagerty, a used 1991 Miata with a little rust only cost around $1,100. Nowadays, models in good condition can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000. 
To make matters worse, aftermarket add-ons and necessary restoration parts have also gone up in price. Both first-time Miata owners and collectors with renewed interest in early Japanese cars are to blame for the recent inflation. Of course, such a hurdle will be less of an issue for the Miata's other resurging fanbase: affluent Boomers and pre-Boomers.

How much will car insurance cost?

The 1990 Mazda Miata might be going up in price, but its matching car insurance remains steady and affordable. Even so, many first-time car owners don't know where to find the best coverage.
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