MX-5 Recom­mis­sion­ing

Classics Monthly - - Driver's Diary -

F ol­low­ing on from last month’s re­port, I thought I’d take time to as­sess the fi­nal mem­ber of the fleet, my ‘91 Eunos road­ster and make sure that any­thing that needs to be sorted out is fixed be­fore the end of the win­ter. Con­sid­er­ing the car’s ori­gins – it was re­cov­ered from a hedge and looked like its next trip was go­ing to be its last, on the back of a breaker’s yard truck – this lit­tle road­ster is amaz­ing.

I just didn’t find the time last year to get it out of its cor­ner and on the road. I feel guilty about this, and I kick my­self for miss­ing the warm months. It’s a great car to drive, with enough power and su­perb han­dling, and re­wards my months of ne­glect with easy start­ing on the first turn of the key and an ea­ger­ness to get up and get gone. You couldn’t ask for more.

First task was to clean off months of stor­age grime. The paint, for the most part is still in good or­der. I re­paired a few ar­eas of lac­quer peel when I re­vived the car and con­sid­er­ing these were done on my usual bud­get of ‘cheap as pos­si­ble’, they’re hold­ing up re­ally well. The near­side front wing will need some at­ten­tion soon though. I thought it had been re-lac­quered at any ear­lier date and had dis­coloured to a orange hue. But any at­tempts to pol­ish the dis­coloura­tion away re­vealed that it wasn’t lac­quer but very badly matched paint. The paint has gone through in places, so it’s ei­ther go­ing to need a new coat, or I may even keep an eye out for a com­plete front wing in

the cor­rect colour. Bolt­ing on a wing might be a lot less painful than re­spray­ing the old one.

The other area I feel now needs at­ten­tion are the al­loy wheels. No amount of scrub­bing with soap and wa­ter will re­move the black de­posits caused by brake dust. They might be worth treat­ing with a more hard­core ded­i­cated wheel cleaner, and I’ve had amaz­ing re­sults with these prod­ucts in the past. Or I may just have to bite the bul­let and re­fur­bish them. The Mazda is never go­ing to win any con­cours com­pe­ti­tions, but scruffy wheels re­ally drag the looks of a car down.

Un­der the bon­net, there were a cou­ple of small things to do. I had an oil fil­ter sit­ting on the shelf, so it felt rude not to drop the en­gine oil and change the fil­ter. It was a lit­tle deca­dent, as the oil came out of the sump still golden but I re­ally en­joy the revvy na­ture of the en­gine, so it seems only fair to give it the best pos­si­ble de­fence against my en­thu­si­as­tic right foot!

I no­ticed a slight squeal from the aux­il­iary drive belt, so ad­justed that to cure the prob­lem. This job couldn’t be eas­ier on the Mazda. The ad­juster is right at the top of the en­gine and is a sim­ple case of loos­en­ing the 12mm lock nut and then wind­ing the ad­just­ment up with a sec­ond 12mm bolt. There’s no hav­ing to lever and ten­sion al­ter­na­tors and pumps here. Lock it up and job done.

Since I’ve owned the Mazda, I sus­pected there was some slight play in one of the en­gine mounts. It’s now moved out of the ‘slight’ zone and firmly into the ‘no­tice­able’. The rest of the car is in­cred­i­bly tight, so feel­ing slight move­ment through the gear­stick is dis­con­cert­ing, which means the job is now at the top of my to-do list. I don’t think the parts are ex­pen­sive so it’ll be well worth do­ing and make the car even bet­ter to drive once the spring comes. Bring it on.

A bit of spit and pol­ish and the Mazda still comes up well.

The al­loy wheels are now show­ing their age. Deep clean­ing may im­prove them.

Re­mov­ing dis­coloura­tion has re­vealed the now worn through orig­i­nal. It’s now a toss up be­tween re­paint­ing or re­plac­ing.

Re­paired sec­tions of the body­work are still look­ing good, but it never hurts to take out fine scratches with a good qual­ity pol­ish.

A sin­gle 12mm span­ner is all that’s re­quired to ten­sion the belt.

Aux­il­iary drive belt had be­come loose and was squeal­ing un­der load. Ad­juster could not be eas­ier to get at.

Oil still stays golden in the sump – shows that the en­gine has al­ways been looked af­ter and ser­viced reg­u­larly.

The en­gine thrives on revs so it makes sense to keep oil changes up to date.

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