1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata Long-Term Road Test - New Updates

1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata Long-Term Road Test

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1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata: So, This Happened.

September 20, 2010



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1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata: In Good Company

September 10, 2010

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That is all.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata: Thermostat Walkaround

September 07, 2010

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This won't be nearly as cool as one of Dan's Suspension Walkarounds, but what the heck. I had both of Project Miata's thermostats (the old and the new one) in hand during my cooling system festival and saw some notable differences.

Maybe you'll learn something from this. Perhaps not. In any case, here goes.

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1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata: The Bonehead Rule

September 06, 2010


Recall a while back Project Miata's cooling fan was operating erratically. It's now fixed (I'm pretty sure).

The short explanation: replacing the coolant thermosensor at the back of the head did the trick, as expected.

For those curious / bored readers, the resolution entailed some other cooling system shenanigans as well. Okay, the whole process sort of turned into a goat rodeo. Click on to read the long and twisted saga.

After replacing the relay, my next plan of action was to replace the thermosensor. I should have kept my eye on the ball and just done that. Instead, I got distracted.

A friend had a fancypants aluminum race radiator left over from a customer's Miata project car. It was removed simply because the customer is one of those bigger-is-better guys that always wants the latest thing. Whatever, he didn't need it and gave it to me. Used for only a short time, the radiator was in surprisingly good shape, plus was made by a reputable big-name manufacturer and not some chintzy Chinese off brand.

Perfect, I thought. We'll be adding power, so some extra thermal capacity is a must. I threw it in Project Miata and even sealed it up nice with a bunch of foam strips so that all incoming air goes through the radiator (and fans) rather than around it.

The next day while commuting to the office, the temp gauge started to climb.

Now, if you're familiar with factory temp gauges, you know that they are essentially worthless. They're highly nonlinear, meaning they sit in one happy place over an absurdly wide temperature range. This is because most automotive consumers suck -- when they see a temp gauge move around, they freak out.

In response, manufacturers have over the years "deadened" their temp gauges so that their needles hardly budge even as coolant temp varies widely. This comforts the lowest common denominator customer into thinking that everything is just peachy but makes for a less-than-useful gauge. This, of course, sort of defeats the purpose of the gauge.

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1994 Mazda Miata: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

September 03, 2010


It's a half-day for us today before the holiday. So, let's try something different. Instead of the caption contest, we offer this photo.

Make up a story about this picture in 50 words or less. Be creative. Tell me a story.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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1994 Mazda Miata: Rear Window

August 26, 2010


OK, I don't doubt that you all already know what a hard top looks like but check it out in our 1994 Mazda Miata. The visibility out the back is now teh awesome. No more tiny, swaying window to look out of but this huge expanse of glass and, look, there's even a shelf back there for my purse.

Here's a view of the rear via the rearview mirror.

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1994 Mazda Miata: Dealing With the Hard Top

August 25, 2010


Are sunny days sweeping the clouds away? Even if they are, I couldn't really enjoy them now that our 1994 Mazda Miata has a bolted-down hard top. Pout. Project Miata editor Jason Kavanagh definitely has a different idea of what makes a fun drive. He of the Angeles-Crest-blasting, canyon-carving, Lemons-racing variety while I like leisurely drives around town on my Vespa...OK, I lie, I like taking corners fast, too (though not on my Vespa).

But I do have to say, now that I don't have to worry about the soft top flying off of our crapwagon, I can kind of see JayKav's point. Sure, the enclosed quarters of our Miata feel especially claustrophobic on a beautiful day, but this car is now so focused I can almost forgive him for taking away its top-down spontaneity.

On another note, I FINALLY got the hang of that 2nd gear. The trick is to place the gearshifter in 2nd, not shove it. This has made my time in the Miata even more fun and stress-free. Oh, and bonus? It's perhaps the only long-term car I can park in my new garage without fear of scraping the sides. I want to drive it again!

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 179,510 miles

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1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata: Wheels and Tires Make the Car

August 24, 2010


We knew the second we put the wheels and tires on our super-long-term Miata that it was the right choice. Even if they made the car ride like a Delorean they were worth it for looks alone.

After putting some additional miles on it over the last week or so I don't think they're problematic at all. Sure, the ride is a bit firm, but that's as much the suspension changes as anything. I don't get the sense that they're too big or too heavy for this car and the grip is just nuts. I'm still looking for a good fast turn that will push them to their limits. I think it might take awhile.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata: More Room Inside Than You Might Think

August 20, 2010


The seat is tearing apart and the pedal covers are falling off, so why did I enjoy driving the Miata so much last night?

The light traffic on Sunset certainly helped, but it was mostly because I found that this two-seater is shockingly comfortable for my 6'2" frame. I don't even have to put the seat back all the way. The spacious foot box helps too as you're not forced to constantly shift around to keep your feet properly aligned.

Yes, getting in and out is a bit comical, but no more so than our Viper. And that car feels claustrophobic compared to the Miata. Never would have guessed that from the outside.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata: Coupe > Roadster

August 19, 2010

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As Erin indicated, last week I picked up a Craigslist hardtop for Project Miata and ditched the blown-apart softtop. It's now a step closer to a true coupe, which is a variant of the Miata that Mazda should have made in the first place. I'm no fan of ragtops for reasons I've mentioned previously -- in my opinion, Miatas are good despite their folding roofs, not because of them. But you know what they say about opinions.

Two protruding studs at the rear deck ("Frankenstein bolts," as they're known) align the hardtop's rear seal, while two latches at the windshield header and two more at the base of the b-pillar do the heavy lifiting in securing the hardtop to the car. That is, if your Miata has side striker plates which this one does not. No matter. For additional security I picked up some Spec Miata brackets and bolted that sucker down.

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