1990 Mazda MX-5: Our shed

By: David Morley, Photography by: David Morley

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Our shed: 1990 Mazda MX-5 Our shed: 1990 Mazda MX-5 Our shed: 1990 Mazda MX-5
Our shed: 1990 Mazda MX-5 Our shed: 1990 Mazda MX-5 Our shed: 1990 Mazda MX-5
Our shed: 1990 Mazda MX-5 Our shed: 1990 Mazda MX-5 Our shed: 1990 Mazda MX-5
Our shed: 1990 Mazda MX-5 Our shed: 1990 Mazda MX-5 Our shed: 1990 Mazda MX-5
Our shed: 1990 Mazda MX-5 Our shed: 1990 Mazda MX-5 Our shed: 1990 Mazda MX-5

Morley goes back in time to revisit an old flame and brings her home to meet the family...

1990 Mazda MX-5: Our shed
Our shed: 1990 Mazda MX-5


1990 Mazda MX-5

Drowning in test cars and knowing that I’d be away overseas for a few months last year, I accidentally (long story) sold my AU Falcon XR6 early in 2013. That was no big deal, because even as AU Falcons go, this one was no real glamour. What it was, however, was my airport car. You know, the hack I can happily leave lying about the carparks of airports, shopping centres and car manufacturers.

I know, I know, a motoring scribbler aint supposed to own his own car, but I reckon there’s some dignity in running your own wheels, even when you’re usually driving somebody else’s. Anyways, back from my three-month weekend away, I realised I no longer had an airport car. What to do?

Well, buy something, obviously, but what. I’ve now done the elderly Falcon/Commodore thing more times than I care to remember, so I quickly ruled that out. Not that they don’t make great cheap runabouts, but – I dunno – I was just a bit over it. Nope, what I wanted was something a bit interesting but still super useable, even if it wasn’t totally practical.

Now, here’s where I start showing my age: I remember back in the very late 1980s when Mazda launched the original MX-5 and we all went nuts for it. I was testing cars for MOTOR magazine full-time back then and I vividly remember balmy nights hooning about in a bright blue MX-5 (the only non-red or white one in the country; the property of Mazda Oz’s MD back then) with the B52’s Love Shack blasting out the speakers.

Thing is, as the MX-5 aged, I don’t think they ever matched that original version with the sweet little 1.6-litre twin-cam and the supple chassis and pin-sharp steering. So if I was going to buy one in 2013, it had to be that first model.

I looked at a couple for silly (as in, bugger-all) money that both needed a bit of work, but for an extra couple of grand, I found a red one which had been repainted, re-trimmed and generally babied for all its life. Somebody had tipped a shedload of dosh into it, and it ran 16-inch alloys, coil-overs, a strut brace and a set of headers; all the stuff I would have spent money doing myself in the first week anyway.

Obviously, I bought it.

You know how sometimes your memory of a girl/song/car is better than the reality of the same girl/song/car with 25 years of experience? Me, too, and I was worried that the MX-5 might be some of that. But no, I’ve got to say the whole experience is just as magical as it was all those years ago.

Okay, so the coil-overs are a bit firm (even on their softest setting) but everything else is just as I remembered it only better, because this one has my name on the rego papers, not the MD of Mazda’s name.

The 191,000km it has racked up don’t seem to have blunted it in any way (these motors can do 400,000km before you lift the head for a freshen up) and the steering is as pinpoint accurate and tactile as anything this side of an early, non-power-steer 911.

I’ve just lobbed back home after a 200km round-trip with a bunch of mates who have all mysteriously bought red cars in recent times. So we’ve just had our first official "Red Car Run" out to a country pub for a counter-attack and a solid bulldust session.

Check out the photo and you’ll see a pair of mid-’60s American Falcons, another MX-5, a ’67 Corvette convertible and an Alfa 105 GTV. The trip home was just as good as the earlier blast along deserted country roads and I’ve got a feeling this latest airport car could become a keeper.

Love shack, baby, love shack…


More reviews:

> Our shed: Mazda MX-5 track car

> Past blast: Mazda MX-5

> World's Greatest Cars: Mazda MX-5

> Buyer's guide: Mazda MX-5 (1989-98)



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