The 97 model year marked the end of the "M1" style Miata which was first introduced in 89 as a 90 model. The 1.8L engine that this year includes provides more than enough thrust. The car shines in the curves. I have yet to drive (and I've driven a lot) a car that out handles the Miata. As the Miata grows bigger and more powerful, it loses some of it's charm that the M1 style had. The 90-93 model with the 1.6L engine and the 94-97 model with the 1.8L engine are far and away the best value and most fun you can have on four wheels. Three features missing on post 97 models are headrest speakers, pop-up head lights and chrome "finger pull" door handles. Drive it and you will never want to get out.
Engine, brakes, wheels, easy drop top, headrest speakers, pop-up head lights and chrome "finger pull" door handles.