Who doesn’t love a Miata? The zippy little car with the happy headlights and grinning grill is a staple of the enthusiast car culture, and has been for over 25 years now. There is one Miata, however, that doesn’t get as much love. Maybe it should. The NC Miata was produced between 2006 and 2015 and it’s not as pure as the original NA Miata nor is it as sharp as the current ND, but it’s still a damn good Miata and quality examples can be picked up for incredibly reasonable prices.

After the iconic NA Miata and the slightly more aggressive NB, Mazda attempted to move “upmarket” with the NC, and made it bigger, more comfortable and, of course, heavier. The NC was also saddled with styling that blurred the line between cute and bland.

If you want more colorful commentary on the NC, I’ll let Mr. Regular take it from here.

Now that the NA generation is officially “vintage”, and thus has some collectability to it, prices are starting to rise. While NA Miatas haven’t yet hit BMW E30 levels of insanity, there are some serious prices out there for cars that are over 20 years old.

I can’t say I blame them. The classic market is pretty strong. So much so that if you live in Japan, Mazda will sell you a fully restored NA Miata.

But what if you aren’t so hung up on the purity and the charming flip up headlights, but just want a nice reliable roadster that will bring a smile to your face? Currently, the Miata sweet spot is in the NC cars, as it’s not difficult to find a clean example with fewer than 100,000 miles for under $10,000.

If you are feeling spendy and step up to the $12,000 to $15,000 range you can score cars that are barely broken in!

Some folks will be tempted by CPO models in the high-teens and low $20,000 range, don’t be. The beauty of the NC Miata is that it is basically the same car since 2006. There is no need to drop almost twenty large on the same car that can be had for thousands less.

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The NC Miata may never be a collector’s item, but it’s an incredible value for someone who wants a quality drop top and isn’t hung up on hardcore convertible motoring.