For $3,900, The M in This BMW Is For Miata

Illustration for article titled For $3,900, The M in This BMW Is For Miata
Nice Price Or No DiceIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

It may signal the end of the relationship when one partner comes home to find the other wearing their clothes. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe turbo Miata wears Z3 threads, and it's ready to start a relationship with you.


Maybe it's the witness protection program, or perhaps it's having seen Pricilla, Queen of the Desert too many times. Whatever the reason, something possessed the owner of today's 1990 Mazda Miata to dress it up in the false nose and glasses disguise of a BMW Z3 body kit. And while this contender goes incognito, yesterday's soft-top Yugo was loud and proud in its yellow and gray livery. Sadly, that car probably should have tried to pass itself off as something else as well, because the general consensus was no Yugo is worth $4,500, an opinion backed by a harsh 78% Crack Pipe vote.

Today's car is cheaper than that Yugo, potentially quicker, and is a car that lacks the Eastern European's reputation for having the fragility of a Michael Cera character. On the flip side, it seems to be suffering from an identity crisis. The BMW Z3 has never established itself as an epoch-defining model, although, as one of the cheapest ways to get both a Roundel on the bonnet and a top that can go down, it has its fans. One of those fans was obviously the owner of this 1990 Miata, who instead of satisfying his urges to be one with that BMW, reshaped the Mazda in its image. Typically, trying to mold one thing into the clone of another results in buffoonery or worse, tragedy.

In the case of this Miata, it's kind of a 10-foot pole conversion, meaning that from 10 feet it's hard to tell it's not a Z3. When new, the Z3 was edged by the Miata in price by a goodly bit, but the BMW's resale has been abysmal, and the cost of tailoring this MX5 for its German suit likely outweighs the cost of a decent used example of the BMW two-seater today. But so what, this is a Miata that's in disguise. Think of the fun you could have with that! Confuse the cops, raid Roundel gatherings, make your mom think you've finally become successful! And when it comes to escaping all those people you've temporarily hoodwinked, this Miata has the goods as it's also pretending to be the fast and the furious.

Behind its sham twin kidneys is what is said to be a rebuilt Mazda four with both a Greddy turbo kit and just 1,500 miles on it. Not only does the seller claim 15-lbs of boost (!) but he also says the car has a nitrous shot on it, because I guess his dream is to be Mad Max. While that all does sound like a grenade with the pin pulled, it's quite possible that it has plenty of miles left in it. Speaking of miles, the rest of the car has turned about 100K, although it appears that after some hard winters in the Big Apple, it's now retired to Tampon, Florida like so many others rocking the triple digits. Despite that semi-sedentary lifestyle, the seller says he starts and drives it weekly, as he's a firm believer in the old maxim of use it or lose it. It should be noted that despite his best efforts, the car has lost it to a certain extent. Oh, sure it still has the steering wheel that looks like video game accessory, and the A-pillar gauges continue to threaten your eye sockets in emergency stops, but there's been some aging that has taken place between the first set of pictures and the last. Nothing too serious, and the car is still full of bemmery goodness.

Illustration for article titled For $3,900, The M in This BMW Is For Miata

But that doesn't mean that everything is roses (or perhaps daisies pretending to be roses) with the car, as there are the collective problems of the hard top popping off its bondo; the door poppers being too weak; and some tidying of the wiring harness to be done, or so claims the owner. It also needs an air-fuel controller to run correctly, although he says he'll throw that in with the deal.


And what about that deal? Here's a car that's pretending to be something it's not, but it's also likely faster and potentially more reliable than the car it is emulating. And despite the disguise, when you get down to it, it's a turbo Miata with a relatively fresh rebuild. If the receipts for the work check out, that's got to be worth something, and maybe that something is $3,900. What do you think, would you drop that much for this morphed Miata? Or, is the car's disguise unable to mask the fact that it's a bad deal?

You decide!


Tampa Craigslist or go here if the ad goes undercover.

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Antti Kautonen

It's a hairdresser's hairdresser's car.