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Mazda MX-5 MK1

Mazda MX-5 MK1 Published: 15th Oct 2014 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Mazda MX-5 MK1
Mazda MX-5 MK1 Nice aftermarket steering wheel improves feel of the excellent steering
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MAKE: MAZDA MX-5 Mk1 OWNER: Tom Malcom YEAR: 1996

Just sometimes you have to take a punt when buying a car. I did when I purchased my late model Mk1 MX-5 from a trader close to where I live. It had a list of faults that included a horrible screeching sound from the transmission and an engine which seemed to have been incapable of retaining its lubricating oil judging by the black sludge everywhere under the bonnet.

A lot of work later and the engine not only ran beautifully, but also it actually was now capable of keeping all the oil to itself. In an attempt to halt the banshee-type wailing from the transmission, I swapped the gearbox for a used example I bought via the internet.

Surely after a new clutch, release bearing and gearbox, I could at long last experience quiet motoring again? Not a chance! It wasn’t any worse but it wasn’t any better. At my wits end, I took the car down to the workshop of my old (they’re really quite young at heart) friends Ivan and Colin.

These mechanical wizards looked, listened, stroked their chins, nodded sagely and as one said: “spigot bearing”. Up until then I had never heard of a spigot bearing (it fits inside the flywheel and supports the transmission input shaft) but before long I had ordered one.

Back home I picked up the phone to another of my saviours. I am in the happy situation of having a son-in-law Simon whose pure enthusiasm for helping me work on the MX-5 (it is more accurate to say I assist him, really) is only matched by his technical prowess on all things automotive.

Faster than I could feed him cups of tea, Simon had the spigot bearing replaced and when we fired up the engine and engaged first gear, the banshees had gone. Peace reigned once more. All that faffing about for the want of a small bearing costing just £8.35! Please dear reader, learn from my mistake. If you are changing the clutch on your car, always, always, always, make sure you change the spigot bearing at the same time…

With the mechanical work completed, my attention turned to the wheels. The standard alloys on the car were in terrific condition, with good – but mixed make – tyres all round. However, I prefer the look of the alloys fitted to earlier Mk1s. They have earned the nickname ‘daisy wheels’. I’ll leave you to work that one out yourself! The same internet used parts specialist who supplied the gearbox now came up with four used daisy wheels, centre caps and wheel nuts. All for an unbelievable £70, too.

They were pretty scruffy, had clearly seen some action but were perfectly sound. A session with a jet washer, detailed cleaning with fine grade steel wool and re-finishing with some aluminium-coloured paint and clear lacquer and they came up as good as new. In a first for me, I ordered a new set of tyres on the internet and also arranged for them to be fitted at home by the provider’s mobile fitting service.

I wasn’t sure how this would work out but I have to say I would recommend it to anyone. The ride and handling, never bad before, is even better on these Goodyear Efficient Grip tyres.

It was now time to really enjoy the car, especially with the sun shining out of cloudless skies. Jo and I have had a ball this summer. I never fail to have a smile on my face as I start the engine and head out onto the roads.

I keep saying to anyone who will listen to me that I would happily jump in this little car and drive it to the south of France and back, so confident am I in its abilities. I suppose deep down I am hoping someone will pay me to do just that (any chance Mr. Editor?). When I got Jo, despite all her faults, I just knew deep down in my heart that here was a car which, with some careful TLC, could be a little better. I wasn’t wrong!

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