Mazda MX-5 Mk3

By this point I’d traded in my IS200 for a family wagon, the Seat Altea XL, that Tara was using as her daily driver. That meant I was pretty much full time in the Yaris SR. The Yaris was a great wee car, but with 90,000 miles on the clock is was beginning to feel a bit tired and I needed a change.

Since we had the family car requirement covered with the Seat, I decided to trade in the Yaris for another MX-5. As it would be my daily driver, I didn’t want to take a risk on reliability with an older Mk1 so opted for a relatively new Mk3.

What can I say about this car? I dunno… it basically felt like Mazda had redefined the niche for the MX-5 from LWS (light weight sports) to comfortable convertible. Despite the engine increase from 1.6l on my previous MX-5s to 2.0l on the Mk3, the car felt slower and more lethargic in its handling… all of the exciting rawness of the Mk1 was missing.

Despite the lack of driving excitement, I still had a lot of fun in the Mk3. My first son was just a couple of years old at the time, and it was a real treat to be able to take him down to the seaside with the top down. I only owned the car for about eight months, but still managed well over 100 days of top-down motoring in that time.

So why did I get rid of it? Because I blew up the engine.

Being a gadget freak as well as a car nut, I had decided to add a full electronic dashboard to the car. Using a kit that connected to the OBDII port, I was able to monitor every aspect of the car from intake temperatures to dynamic inlet timing changes and even individual wheel speeds. Thanks to all this data, I was able to do 0-60 and quarter mile runs without going to the track.

On some downtime between Christmas and New Year I decided to do a quarter mile run on my local motorway. Starting on the slip road, I set the virtual Christmas Tree for the 1/4 mile run. 3-2-1… Go! Flat out in first, perfect wheel slip, sweet start. Shift light flashes, shift into second, tiny bit of wheelspin, spot on. Third gear, foot to the floor, across the virtual line, done. Lift off the throttle…. BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG. W-T-F??!?!

So… it turns out the oil level had been low. To be honest, I hadn’t checked it since the car had (supposedly) been fully serviced when I bought the car just a few months prior and I know it had no leaks. My local garage took a look and advised that a full engine replacement would be the only fix, so I decided to cut my losses.

By way of penance for my sin of breaking a perfectly decent car, I decided to go for a nice, tame, eco-friendly car. Roll on the Fiat 500.