Yep, you read that right! My previous car was a '98 Boxster. The Porsche was superior in almost every way, except I enjoy driving the Miata EVEN MORE! Handling is second only to the Lotus Elise, on par with an S2000, and better than the Boxster, for a fraction of the cost to buy and maintain. You just can't go wrong with this car.
I was only looking for a small manual transmission car to get out of the boredom of minivan, and bought a 1996 Miata. This little car surprised me in many ways. I didn't know that I had petrol in my blood before! The Miata is slow by the number, but fast once the road starts to curve. The handling capability surpasses my comfort zone, which is why I start to autocross to appreciate this fine roadster more. Needless to mention, one can turbocharge a Miata to get 200+ HP without harming the engine (which was designed to be turbocharged). It is also a practical car. I go to Costco in the Miata, and seldom need to put anything in the front seat. Try that with a Boxster or MR2!
Bought my white Miata w/140k miles on eBay. Excellent chassis. You wouldn't have a clue as in what a "good handling car" is like, unless you drive a Miata. Very forgiving near limits - gives you plenty of warning before it gives up. The car tries real hard to do whatever you are commanding it to do, and performs very well. Miata is nothing short of purebred sports car, designed from ground up to be impractical in all other aspect other than getting from A to B in the most exhilarating way. Underpowered, but don't afraid to rev it up to 5000+ rpm. The car soars when you push it hard. 27 MPG in abusive driving.
I bought my 96 Miata two years ago. In good running condition with IÂ’m assuming 120K. Since then she has been across state lines, driven 103 MPH down deserted highways, been my daily driver and is the closest to heaven IÂ’ve ever been I am not good at maintaining my cars, I forget until something goes wrong. SheÂ’s had an oil link since I bought her and once in a while she ends up bone dry and ticky but as soon as I add oil sheÂ’s right as rain. The speedo cable squeals..not a big deal. all in all she still runs like a powerhorse roadster should, has saved my life with epic handling. I'll never own anything but a Miata. ever.
The Miata 1996 vintage is a wonderful car overall and amazingly reliable. Such dependability is probably due to the car's inherent simplicity. It is a fine example of balance. The power, weight, size, handling ability, all work together as a unit. Beefs about trunk size are unfounded. The wife and I have driven from Nashville to Toronto as well as various other trips to Ohio and Florida with no problems. Don't waste your time with "exotic" Eurojunk. Get a Miata.