Sales, ser­vic­ing, re­pair and restora­tion – this Don­caster-based MX-5 spe­cial­ist han­dles them all

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Drop­ping in on Don­caster-based sales and restora­tion spe­cial­ist, MX5 City

‘Since I first set up in busi­ness back in 1981 sell­ing Bri­tish clas­sic sports cars, I’ve al­ways bent over back­wards to look af­ter my cus­tomers,’ as­serts Martin Dooner, owner of Don­caster-based MX5 City. ‘And over that time I’ve learnt that the old ex­pres­sion is true – you can’t please all of the peo­ple all of the time. But when a cus­tomer is truly happy with what you’ve done, well, that’s a won­der­ful sen­sa­tion.

‘A great ex­am­ple of this re­cently was an el­derly lady, into her 80s, who’d suf­fered an in­jury to her shoul­der so couldn’t drive her [mk2.5] Arc­tic spe­cial edi­tion for a few months. Her son – who wanted to get the car ready for his mother’s re­turn to driv­ing – came to us when it wouldn’t run prop­erly: its ECU had got wet and was no longer func­tional. He’d taken it to a Mazda dealer who’d quoted him £3000 for a re­place­ment ECU, some­what north of what the poor old car was worth…

‘We got it up and run­ning again for £300. When I dropped it off with our pen­sioner MX-5 en­thu­si­ast she was com­pletely over­joyed.

‘In fact, she was so de­lighted at the prospect of driv­ing her car again af­ter a three-month ab­sence that I thought she was go­ing to kiss me!’

Martin un­der­stands the lady’s ex­cite­ment at get­ting her car back. ‘I love work­ing with MX-5S, and that’s not just sales­man’s talk,’ he in­sists. ‘They have al­ways been a great lit­tle car, and gen­er­ally peo­ple who own them are in­ter­est­ing peo­ple. Sure, lots of folk buy them as a week­end toy, but they end up be­ing re­ally pas­sion­ate about them. We see it all the time – cus­tomers come in for ser­vice work, or re­pairs, or restora­tion work, and when they come to col­lect their car you can see the joy on their faces that they’ve been re­united with a car that brings them such plea­sure. Across the road from us there’s a sec­ond­hand car deal­er­ship sell­ing what I would call A-to-b cars, and I don’t be­lieve that their cus­tomers leave with the same sense of joy that ours do.’

By Martin’s own ad­mis­sion, MX5 City deals in, re­stores and looks af­ter, more mk1s than any other gen­er­a­tion of MX-5. That, of course, is where the money is th­ese days, as the car’s new­found clas­sic sta­tus and sub­se­quent ris­ing value en­cour­ages own­ers to in­vest in their first se­ries road­sters in a way that was un­vi­able just a few years ago. But mk2s, 3s and 4s are equally wel­come through the tall doors of a build­ing that once housed a brick com­pany. At the time of our visit there was a mk4 in for ac­ci­dent re­pair, sev­eral mk1s in the fi­nal throes of restora­tion and an­other one emerg­ing from the in-house paint booth, and a mk2 il­lu­mi­nated by a spec­tac­u­lar shower of sparks as a tech­ni­cian cut out the rust from the rear arches and sills.

MX5 City trades in used MX-5S too, and the dom­i­nant model on the fore­court is again the mk1, most in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion, ei­ther be­cause they’re low-mileage mol­ly­cod­dled cars, or be­cause they’ve al­ready been sub­ject to restora­tion work. Al­though to un­trained eyes there seems to be a fair num­ber of cars out­side, Martin’s apolo­getic

Martin Dooner: boss and en­thu­si­ast

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