This is the car that changed my life more than any other. I was 23, I enjoyed driving cars, but I wasn’t really passionate about them. The Mini was fun, but it was too unreliable to continue as my daily driver.
I didn’t really know what I wanted to get next. I had literally zero inspiration. Then, one night, I was out with a bunch of friends and got talking to my now-sister-in-law Kirstie. Off the cuff she mentioned that a convertible would be fun, and asked if I’d considered a Mazda MX-5.
I set myself a budget of £7K, got a loan from the bank and started my hunt for a new car. Sadly, it turned out that (in the year 2000 at least) the cheapest used MX-5 was around £7K… and that was a pretty tatty example.
Then I learned about the Japanese import scene. It turned out the MX-5 was known as the Eunos Roadster in Japan, and some enterprising dealers had started importing minty fresh used examples from Japan. The cars were cheap since it became uneconomical to keep used cars past their 7-year ‘shaken’ inspection.
I picked up a beautifully clean example from Belmont Autos in Glasgow. For £5,400 I got a fresh import with under 30K on the clock and loads of subtle modifications (including sweet Watanabe RS wheels, a T-House chrome roll bar and an original factory hardtop).
Insurance was a trickier prospect. Due to my limited NCB at the time, the only insurance I could afford was third-party only. No fire, no theft. And £1,600 for the privilege.
Still, it was the best car buying decision I ever made. Within months I was in the MX-5 owners club, had met Dave Scott and his band of crazy folk in the SSR club and was taking part in race meets across Scotland.