Mazda MX-5 – Unique Cars mag staff cars

By: Glenn Torrens, Unique Cars magazine

Presented by

P4020095 Mazda MX-5 P4020095
P4020097 Mazda MX-5 P4020097
P4170112 Copy 2 Mazda MX-5 P4170112 Copy 2
P4170117 Mazda MX-5 P4170117
P4240206 Copy 2 Mazda MX-5 P4240206 Copy 2

Strap yourself in as Torrens plays with his new toy

Mazda MX-5 – Unique Cars mag staff cars
Uh oh, Torrens has got into the toolbox again...

MY SPIRITS were up and my roof was down as I enjoyed my first weekend of ownership of my Mazda MX-5. On Saturday, I was soaking up the rays and Triple-J, thinking life was pretty damn good. On Sunday, I’d jumped out of bed early – not something I do very often – for a bit of corner-carving before enjoying a lovely, late, lake-side café breakfast.

Livin’ the dream!

Then, while idling at a set of traffic lights on my way home, I felt the MX-5’s engine start to shake.

Oh. Umm.

Not even 48 hours after I’d bought my white drop-top toy, it was giving me trouble. Based on experience with my now-sold HQ Holden V8 and my street/race VW, I suspected dud spark plugs. Thankfully, I was correct: a new set of plugs bought at my local parts shop – and installed right there in the shop’s car park – fixed the lopey idle instantly. Thank goodness!

Usually when I buy a ‘new’ second-hand classic car, I’ll replace all the driveline lubricants: engine, gearbox, diff and brake fluids. But a three-month-old receipt from the previous owner told of fresh oils from a Sydney workshop, MX-5 Mania. So after replacing the spark plugs, I was happy to ignore the under-bonnet bits for another six months.

But there was one other maintenance task needing immediate attention: The seat-belts in my open-air Mazda were faded and abraded. Not the best for safety, I reckon, so I decided to fit new seat belts. My local parts place referenced the catalogue and I ordered two new retractable belts and fitting kits. Installing them in the Mazda required removal of the seats and disassembly of some of the interior plastic trims. With a few tools, it’s not rocket surgery so within two relaxed hours, I had the belts installed and the interior pieced together again.

However, the new seat belt buckle sat high on my hip. Double-checking with the discarded Mazda stalk revealed the replacement was 50mm longer.  I felt silly for not checking them before I screwed the stalks into the car – now I owned them! – but I knew this wasn’t best-practice safety so I emailed the manufacturer, APV Safety Products in Melbourne.

Within two minutes – yes, really – APV had phoned me and within another two minutes, after clarifying the part number and my concerns, the APV staffer had committed to sending two shorter stalks, free of charge. She even thanked me for my feedback!

Now, my Mazda is as safe as possible for a 25-year-old classic and APV has amended its catalogue so it’s a win-win for all of us.

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