The month of May is upon us and with it should arrive the great British summertime… eventually. As I sit here in lovely Leicestershire, rain from the north is chilling the air. It’s still woollies weather. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not time to remove those tops and revel in the splendour of what’s revealed. Yes, tis the season for convertible cars and I have owned or enjoyed a goodly number of the type, but there is one model which I would revisit in a flash. The Mazda MX5.
I’ve owned two Mazda MX5s; a 1993 Mk1 (actually, it was a ‘Eunos’) and a 2003 Mk2 and both of them were great cars, seeing use as daily drivers throughout the year, not just during summer.
The Eunos was had for a song from Matt Jones, then my editorial colleague at Practical Classics magazine and now, rather grandly titled ‘Global Marketing Director’ for Rolls Royce. The deal involved also taking on his rather forlorn Humber Super Snipe Estate, although this fabulously alliterative machine ended up being ‘moved on’ rather rapidly and also an updated period radio, capable of connecting to then-current mobile phones via a minijack, although this has now been superseded by Bluetooth and so the radio, which was once destined for my Jensen 541R, is now outdated once again.
The Eunos had suffered from Jones’ relying on others (me) to maintain it for free and my lack of willingness to do so. As a result, its handbrake mechanism had partially seized, holding the car back, but once addressed the transformation was magnificent. I had myself a little pocket rocket. The caramel leather seats, with inbuilt speakers were a revelation to me, this being one of the newest cars I had ever owned at the time and the Momo steering wheel was a nice touch. Other than these features, there was little to talk about regarding the interior because there wasn’t much of it. Suffice to say it was a beautifully put together little car and I’m still a fan of the type to this day. I wish that I’d kept it, but I say the same about so many of the cars I’ve sold on. It went to the landlord of the Three Tuns pub, at Bishops Castle, not in exchange for beers on this occasion. He kept it for as long as I lived in the town, so he must have thought it a fun little machine, as did I.
My Mk2 always seemed slightly down at heel by comparison. Its underside was a tad jaded, although otherwise it presented well… at first. Alas, it saw ‘heavy’ countryside use and ended up with an interesting malady.
I hadn’t driven it for some time and so imagine my surprise when, on braking hard to avoid colliding with an oncoming tractor during a descent of the steep single-track lane which approached my then house, the dashboard lit up like a fairy grotto.
Luckily the engine remained running, if falteringly so, but just enough for me to reverse back up the hill to allow the tractor to pass.
What did I then do?
I tried braking heavily again on my descent, but this time the thing conked out altogether and so I had to wrestle it down to the bottom of the hill. This time though, I had noticed another symptom. A sloshing noise. This turned out to be a nearside sill full of water, trapped in by a blocked hood drain which had filled and consequently overflowed into the cavity. The water had surged forward on braking, flooding the footwell located ECU, causing the dashboard illuminations.
Clearing the blockage with an unravelled wire coat hanger sorted out the drainage problem, but the trapped water had to be let out by drilling a hole and then plugging it with a bung, should the problem reoccur. The car sat drying out at the bottom of the hill for a couple of days, after which it started without any problems.
However, this machine was not to be a survivor and so, soon thereafter, ended up with the landlord of the Bridges pub, Ratlinghope, in exchange for a few pints of rather fine beer.
Thus ended my relationship with one of the finest car types I have known, for now, although I look forward to sinking into another sometime in the future. A Mazda MX5, that is, not a beer.
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