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Thread: Which cabrio?

  1. #1
    Grand Master
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    Which cabrio?

    10 years now with my current daily. It is a 4x4 (real) diesel with ragtop. Going strong but I do the vast mayority of the 10K kms/year on tarmac where the high centre of gravity is not much fun at all.
    I do need the offroad properties but have now a second 4x4 ánd the neighbour has volunteered I can borrow his so I coúld go for a cabrio which behaves like a proper tarmac car.

    Been looking around and the shortlist is down to 2:
    - MX5 NC Coupe (with hardtop)
    - Alfa Spider Series 4
    Both are relatively easily found rust free over here.

    Both weigh about the same and are propelled by roughly the same hp.

    Owned a Giulia GTJ 1300 and am aware that the Series 4 is technically the same platform which has both pros and cons about the reverse of the modern tech MX.

    Though I do not take him along a lot I do like the rear ´bench´of the Spider for my dog.

    Any thoughts?
    When the going gets tough, the DAF gets going.

  2. #2
    Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huertecilla View Post
    Any thoughts?
    Buy British...

    MGB
    Spitfire
    TR6
    Stag
    EType
    Healey
    TVR
    Lotus
    Marcos
    Caterham

  3. #3
    Master
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    I think you’ll find the Series 4 less involving to drive than the GTJ. Same suspension components and geometry but the wonderful GTJ body is stiff (for its time) compared to the Spider.

  4. #4
    Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enoch View Post
    Buy British...
    Had a Spitfire and enjoyed it a lot though not néarly in the same league of handling as the Alfa.

    The no-go of any Brit stuff is that there is hardly any over here, less still without rust, lastly silly priced and difficult to cater for.

    The Spiders and MX5s are abundant and easily catered for over here.
    When the going gets tough, the DAF gets going.

  5. #5
    987 Boxster? An early one of those has to be cheaper than the Spider. And I know which one I'd rather have.

  6. #6
    Master TKH's Avatar
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    R107 SL..Had many wonderful drive easy to get parts go up £££'s like a Submariner

  7. #7
    Grand Master
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    Merc, Porsche and BMW are off the list for being porkers (and too powerful; I´d rather have a 1300 Junior than a 6 cil. Boxer)). Ditto later Alfa Spider models. Never mind running costs.
    When the going gets tough, the DAF gets going.

  8. #8
    MG Midget would be my choice of small soft-top in that case. Put a K-series and a 5 speed box in it for trouble free motoring.

  9. #9
    Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by doctorj View Post
    MG Midget would be my choice of small soft-top in that case. Put a K-series and a 5 speed box in it for trouble free motoring.
    Again; n.a. over here.
    The MGF is available but am not too keen on that. On the TF I am on the fence. Some very neat ones with low mileage with asking prices half of the Spider/MX5, but for obvious reasons.

    Anway; the thoughts question was about which of the two.
    Last edited by Huertecilla; 10th July 2018 at 15:35.
    When the going gets tough, the DAF gets going.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Huertecilla View Post
    Again; n.a. over here.
    The MGF is available but am not too keen on that. On the TF I am on the fence. Some very neat ones with low mileage with asking prices half of the Spider/MX5, but for obvious reasons.

    Anway; the thoughts question was about which of the two.
    MX-5 every day. A sixties Italian car built in the 80s is going to be, how you say it, a pile of shit.

  11. #11
    Master
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    Porsche Boxster, or an E46 M3.

  12. #12
    Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by doctorj View Post
    MX-5 every day. A sixties Italian car built in the 80s is going to be, how you say it, a pile of shit.
    Looking for a nineties one with better steel and rather good rust protection.
    The Series 4 is basically nineties Fiat production level sixties tech. upgraded with electronics for carburation and ignition. Not thát bad but no, not on par with the MX5.
    When the going gets tough, the DAF gets going.

  13. #13
    Craftsman
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    MX5, without question.

    Reliable, good looking, cheap to buy, cheap to run. Handles very well and goes reasonably fast. Best gear shift of any car outside of a Ferrari open gate. Dog can sit on the rear shelf.

  14. #14
    Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadeOfCheese View Post
    MX5, without question.

    Reliable, good looking, cheap to buy, cheap to run. Handles very well and goes reasonably fast. Best gear shift of any car outside of a Ferrari open gate. Dog can sit on the rear shelf.
    Plenty of 2 litre versions over here and those are quick enough.

    The dog can go on the passenger seat.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by MadeOfCheese View Post
    MX5, without question.

    Reliable, good looking, cheap to buy, cheap to run. Handles very well and goes reasonably fast. Best gear shift of any car outside of a Ferrari open gate. Dog can sit on the rear shelf.
    Plenty of 2 litre versions over here and those are quick enough.

    The dog can go on the passenger seat.
    When the going gets tough, the DAF gets going.

  15. #15
    Master Omegary's Avatar
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    Don't know about availability in Spain but have you considered a Toyota MR2 Roadster?

    I've had mine for over 2 years now and it's been excellent fun and incredibly cheap to run.

    Pro's:
    Mid engined
    Rear wheel drive
    Bullet proof engine (avoid earlier examples) and mechanicals
    Very good mpg
    Low centre of gravity
    Very light (lighter than an MX5)
    Bigger interior than the MX5 (I'm 6' 4" and can fit comfortably)
    Cheap to buy (in the UK at least)
    Cheap insurance

    The lack of weight means tyres, brake pads etc last a long, long time and I can get over 45mpg if I don't thrash it too much.

    Con's
    Not a lot of stowage space. A frunk up front and storage behind the seats and that's it really.

    My wife summed ours up nicely when she said that even boring journey's seem like a summers holiday.

    Cheers,
    Gary

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Huertecilla View Post
    Had a Spitfire and enjoyed it a lot though not néarly in the same league of handling as the Alfa.

    The no-go of any Brit stuff is that there is hardly any over here, less still without rust, lastly silly priced and difficult to cater for.

    The Spiders and MX5s are abundant and easily catered for over here.
    Alfa S4 is vastly underrated. Good, enjoyable car, easy to live with compared to S1 and 2. And prices are due for an uplift.

  17. #17
    Grand Master Andyg's Avatar
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    Every day transport for 2 - Mercedes SL.

    Everyday transport for 4 - BMW, E-class, or Audi A5

    Posing - Jaguar

    Sporting - Boxster

    Sporting Cheap - Mx5

    Track day/ organ Donating - Caterham

    Paper weight - TVR

    Whoever does not know how to hit the nail on the head should be asked not to hit it at all.
    Friedrich Nietzsche


  18. #18
    Grand Master VDG's Avatar
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    Just cut off roof of that DAF of yours, job done.
    AVDACES FORTVNA IVVAT

  19. #19
    Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omegary View Post
    Don't know about availability in Spain but have you considered a Toyota MR2 Roadster?
    Thanks Gary.

    I did and and discarded it because of a bit of a bad rep.
    There are however some very, véry nice W30s available, hardtop and all at rather a lot below MX5 prices.
    When the going gets tough, the DAF gets going.

  20. #20
    Craftsman
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    Saab cabriolets can be bought for peanuts not sure how good they are

  21. #21
    Master yumma's Avatar
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    As a former owner of 9 years, I'd say 100% go MX5, I'd seriously consider a late Mk2.5 NB 1800 VT-Sport if you can, seriously good fun, stupendously reliable, good mpg and a boot big enough to fit in a full set of golf clubs, folding trolley and gym bag or a weeks shop for a family. As others have said, the best gear change of almost anything on the road and the best handling this side of a Lotus Elise for peanuts money.

    I have recently sold my beloved MX5 and 'upgraded' to a Z423iS, whilst the BMW is a lovely car, it's no MX5 and doesn't drive as nicely but is a good car and refined cruiser. More GT than Sports Car. MX5 all the way!

  22. #22
    Grand Master
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    Went to see both an Alfa Spider and an MX5.
    Decided to dg a bit deeper in the MR2 option.
    The Alfa is simply too ... well, dated and the MX5 is just ... well, not rugged enough; it is perfect; can´t stand it, sorry.

    The MR2s over here have me baffled. So few produced over so few model years with so little development yet sóóóó many official variants. There is a plethora of TTE mods and other dealer fitted options.
    When the going gets tough, the DAF gets going.

  23. #23
    We still have an MR2, and I’d probably opt for the MX5 - the interior is a lot nicer in the Mazda.
    It's just a matter of time...

  24. #24
    Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omegamanic View Post
    We still have an MR2, and I’d probably opt for the MX5 - the interior is a lot nicer in the Mazda.
    200+ kilos is rather a lot though and furthermore the MR2 has the engine where is sits in the ideal spot.
    Toyota put a stop to it because the MX5 took the market though. The MX5 ís simply that bit more practical.
    The MX5 style does not rock my boat though whereas I do like the MR2. Still, I get the luggage space issue and I would not look at the MR2 if it were not for my life style ´hauling´ about only a cotton shoulder bag for overnighters/weekends. It suits my ´needs´ to perfection.
    The MR2 is a bit more stark but I would probably take out the centre console as I rather have a bit more leg room than a radio/GPS. Same thing airco and power steering. I´d enjoy 50 lbs less more.

    About to have a look at a pristine bog standard 2003 with 59k kms and hardtop.
    Also talking with a seller of a drooling good looking 2005 JDM (and UK) V-edition with 80K. The RHD is a major issue though.
    Discarded a 2000 with turbo kit. Veryvéry nicely done and the 200+ hp car is a sleeper but the 120k on the clock in combo with turboed early engine makes be back off at any price.

    So, meets my use, there are several nice ones about, prices are sensible and way under MX5 so worth a look for now.

    Thus, could you share some first hand owner experience?
    When the going gets tough, the DAF gets going.

  25. #25
    Master
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    I wouldn't look beyond an MX5 for all the reasons already stated.

  26. #26
    MX5 is the answer here really. They're that popular for a reason.

  27. #27
    Master Omegary's Avatar
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    There's a very good and friendly, UK based, MR2 Roadster forum. A mine of useful information with buyers guides etc

    https://www.mr2roc.org/forum/

    Hope that helps P

    Cheers,
    Gary
    Last edited by Omegary; 12th July 2018 at 21:29.

  28. #28
    If you should buy a ragtop don't forget your crash helmet.

  29. #29
    Master yumma's Avatar
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    As a long term MX5 owner (no longer sadly), I can defo appreciate the Mk3 MR2; or any MR2 for that matter. I drove the Mk3 MR2 1800 VVTi at Millbrook proving ground on the Hill Circuit, Handling circuit and high speed bowl - It was a phenomenal piece of kit. I bought the MX5 for the degree of practicality but the MR2 was every bit as good as a drivers car. If you like it go for it and enjoy.

  30. #30
    Grand Master
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    I already háve a rag top 3F. Been driving it for >10 years and had others before.

    As to the popularity of the MX5 that has two sides; yes it is thát popular for a reason but also because of the mass popularity effect. This is exactly what is happening here; that the popularity is ´proof´ argument to buy.
    See the VW Beetle for a perfect example; that never ever was the best car in any segment.

    Good feedback Yumma, thanks.

    Thanks Gary!!!
    When the going gets tough, the DAF gets going.

  31. #31
    I would think a Lotus Elise is what you’re looking for....the one with the removable roof panel
    You’re quite handy with spanner’s, no?
    Last edited by GOAT; 13th July 2018 at 08:44.

  32. #32
    Craftsman
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    Of the smaller, cheap convertibles, I would be looking at an MX5 or the last shape (Mk 3?) of the MR2

  33. #33

  34. #34
    Grand Master VDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adrianw View Post
    McLaren 650S poster
    FTFY :)
    AVDACES FORTVNA IVVAT

  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Huertecilla View Post
    200+ kilos is rather a lot though and furthermore the MR2 has the engine where is sits in the ideal spot.
    Toyota put a stop to it because the MX5 took the market though. The MX5 ís simply that bit more practical.
    The MX5 style does not rock my boat though whereas I do like the MR2. Still, I get the luggage space issue and I would not look at the MR2 if it were not for my life style ´hauling´ about only a cotton shoulder bag for overnighters/weekends. It suits my ´needs´ to perfection.
    The MR2 is a bit more stark but I would probably take out the centre console as I rather have a bit more leg room than a radio/GPS. Same thing airco and power steering. I´d enjoy 50 lbs less more.

    About to have a look at a pristine bog standard 2003 with 59k kms and hardtop.
    Also talking with a seller of a drooling good looking 2005 JDM (and UK) V-edition with 80K. The RHD is a major issue though.
    Discarded a 2000 with turbo kit. Veryvéry nicely done and the 200+ hp car is a sleeper but the 120k on the clock in combo with turboed early engine makes be back off at any price.

    So, meets my use, there are several nice ones about, prices are sensible and way under MX5 so worth a look for now.

    Thus, could you share some first hand owner experience?
    The choice of tyre on the MR2 is critical to the handling. Wrong tyres and the car tramlines badly under braking. I find the car very nervous at speed in any case. At least more so than any other rear drive convertible I have owned or driven, much more so than the MX5 and 100 times more than my Boxster, which could be due to the low weight, but then it was a lot more nervous than even the tuned VX220T was . That said, the engine never felt badly underpowered and is surprisingly torquey with the low weight, pulling a higher gear than expected in most situations - so it's relaxing to drive in a more sedate manner.

    Ours came without the centre console - but they sent it on in the post and the local Toyota dealer fitted it for free - so easily removable and looks fine without it.

    The interior looks very cheap - hard plastic dash and door inners. Seats are comfy enough, but easily replaced too.

    There is no space for anything other than the likes of a lunch/sandwich bag under the front bonnet. The car seems to suffer a lot less from rust than the MX5's seem to here, and ours lives outside. The paint has started to craze a little on one side though, which will be addressed later in the year.

    The steering linkage can need cleaning and re-greasing to stop any issues.

    Ours has been pretty reliable since bought new in 2001, but It's probably only got around 40k miles as used as a 4th/5th car in the family.

    The hard top is a worthwhile extra here for winter ;)
    It's just a matter of time...

  36. #36
    Are you sure the old fat tarts you tend to go for will be able to get in a MX5?

  37. #37
    Grand Master
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    Thanks Omegamanic.
    When the going gets tough, the DAF gets going.

  38. #38
    Craftsman
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    Seen the cheap MX5 lease deal at Sandicliffe?
    I fancied something less subtle, Abarth 124 spyder

  39. #39
    I haven't read the entire thread so my apologies if this has already been mentioned however a left field choice would be a Fiat Barchetta. The looks aren't for everyone and FWD may also put people off, very few on the market to choose from as well however it should match a MX5 for practicality.

  40. #40
    Grand Master
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    Had a spin in one.
    The car dealer next door had an MX5. A horrible gold paint but that was irrelevant. Took that one out for the same spin.
    I get what Omegamanic observed about the interior and the handling. I liked both móre than the Mx though. I found the MX cramped and sluggish after the MR2. Also way more ´forgiving´.
    Toota dropped the ball when they forgot to design the sound of the MR. The MX offers an enjoyable sound experience, the MR none.
    Yes, the storage space of the MX is all but generous when compared to the MR. The latter is a joke in this respect.

    I did not like the power steering of the MR. It gave nó feedback from the wheels which one definitely misses in a car moving like quicksilver around the middle.
    Too short a drive to get into it deeper but I have the idea that the front suspension design limits the rest of the car big time.

    I reallyREALLY liked how agile it is and how responsive to the throttle. Well, and the stark ample interior.

    Bottom line is that the MX and MR have súch different technical concepts that they are véry different cars behaving véry differently.
    For mé and mý use the MX has fallen by the wayside after driving the MR. I realy liked it!
    When the going gets tough, the DAF gets going.

  41. #41
    Master AM94's Avatar
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    What about the wild card: Honda S2000

  42. #42
    Master Omegary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huertecilla View Post
    Had a spin in one.
    The car dealer next door had an MX5. A horrible gold paint but that was irrelevant. Took that one out for the same spin.
    I get what Omegamanic observed about the interior and the handling. I liked both móre than the Mx though. I found the MX cramped and sluggish after the MR2. Also way more ´forgiving´.
    One of the key reasons I went down the MR2 route was interior space. Yes I can just about fit in a MX5 MKI but I can steer with my knees, my head forms a nice power bulge in the roof and most of my forward view is bonnet. After theMKI they seemed to get smaller! I found the MX5 a softer drive too. Personally I like the slight unpredictable nature of mid engine cars, keeps you focussed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huertecilla View Post
    Toota dropped the ball when they forgot to design the sound of the MR. The MX offers an enjoyable sound experience, the MR none.
    Completely agree but you can address this with aftermarket exhausts etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huertecilla View Post
    Yes, the storage space of the MX is all but generous when compared to the MR. The latter is a joke in this respect.
    Believe it or not I've known couples who have taken their MR2 for a weeks holiday with all their clobber. Very creative packing is required but it is doable, well as long as you don't have a wife like mine who can and has filled a big estate car for a long weekend trip!

    Quote Originally Posted by Huertecilla View Post
    I did not like the power steering of the MR. It gave nó feedback from the wheels which one definitely misses in a car moving like quicksilver around the middle.
    Too short a drive to get into it deeper but I have the idea that the front suspension design limits the rest of the car big time.
    I think it's more a case of there being so little weight over the front wheels. I know some who add ballast in the frunk to address the light front end. Counter intuitive given the cars lack of weight is a positive IMHO. Another option is taking a bit of pressure out of the front tyres to increase the contact patch.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huertecilla View Post
    I reallyREALLY liked how agile it is and how responsive to the throttle. Well, and the stark ample interior.
    Again completely agree. All due to lack of weight again and the mid engine layout. Most cars feel distinctly digital (too many nanny state safety aids etc adding weight but robbing the driver of any involvement) after driving the MR2, which has a lovely analogue charm somehow. I know a lot complain about the interior but I'm too busy enjoying the road to notice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Huertecilla View Post
    Bottom line is that the MX and MR have súch different technical concepts that they are véry different cars behaving véry differently.
    For mé and mý use the MX has fallen by the wayside after driving the MR. I realy liked it!
    Good luck with your search P.

    Cheers,
    Gary

  43. #43
    Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by AM94 View Post
    What about the wild card: Honda S2000
    Too thin on the ground over here.
    High priced over here.
    All rather well used.
    Not cheap to maintain well and sensitive to maintenance thus also;
    rather tricky when not maintained scrupulously.
    All in all great car but WAY too risky.
    If I would go for such a risk I might as well look for a Boxter regardless of the surplus weight and power.

    Back to the MR2, there is a gorguous RHD one for sale. A late end of line JDM special. Because of the RHD a lot lower priced but... RHD :-(
    I don´t know if I want that period, never mind paying for it.

    Anyway, drove a nice untouched low mileage one and lóved it.
    Will let it simmer for now while I read up on the car.
    Maybe the seller will call me with a drop in price. You never know. It is a rather impopular car over here.
    When the going gets tough, the DAF gets going.

  44. #44
    You could always buy the RHD and do a swap with a LHD one in the U.K. ;)

    I’m sure a few mods would help the car, but there doesn’t seem to be too much stuff to strip off it. You could always find and try to fit the 190bhp Celica engines.
    It's just a matter of time...

  45. #45
    Grand Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omegamanic View Post

    I’m sure a few mods would help the car, but there doesn’t seem to be too much stuff to strip off it. You could always find and try to fit the 190bhp Celica engines.
    There is some 50 kilo to be found without too much adoo but that does not change the car. Taking off and venting the power steering might.
    Not sure if more power is a desirable route to go. Maybe a remap if that would fatten up the torque curve but otherwise I think it lively enough at the rear.

    @Gary, yes less air in the front would dampen things somewhat but also increase understeer. I am in general, for most cars, inclined to ádd air at the front. Not sure about the MR; too short a ride.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Omegamanic View Post

    I’m sure a few mods would help the car, but there doesn’t seem to be too much stuff to strip off it. You could always find and try to fit the 190bhp Celica engines.
    There is some 50 kilo to be found without too much adoo but that does not change the car. Taking off the power steering and venting the rack might.
    Not sure if more power is a desirable route to go. Maybe a remap if that would fatten up the torque curve but otherwise I think it lively enough at the rear.

    @Gary, yes less air in the front would dampen things somewhat but also increase understeer. I am in general, for most cars, inclined to ádd air at the front. Not sure about the MR; too short a ride.
    When the going gets tough, the DAF gets going.

  46. #46
    Journeyman
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    Fun for pounds ratio can’t really get any better than in an MX5 though I’m biased




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  47. #47
    Grand Master
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    Update

    Not being biased (as there is no DAF variomatic cabrio ;-) ), going for the MR2.
    The technical specs/driving properties rock my boat and the definitely seriously limiting drawbacks are not much of an issue for my use.

    Back dring the seventies I was very much an enthusiast of the Fiat X1/9 and stayed a fan of it. Have collected several books on the car over the years. Even looked into the reality of buying one when I moved here. They are relatively plentyful over here with harldy rust issues and at attractive prices.
    Today there are stíll as many for sale as MR2s!!
    Even though there were some 160.000 X1/9s sold and about 27.000 MR2s, it still is a bit of a surprise that there are so many about.

    Comparing the two however makes the X1/9 pale it every aspect. Unlike just about every other car, including the MX5, the modern variant of the hype is not any heavier when comparing same spec cars.

    Anyway, test drove two more, one with a double exhaust which made a huge difference in the sporty experience but for the rest non whatsoever if a bit more tiresome. All in all no difference to me.
    Still curious about the 6 speed (2nd gen) sequential box. It would have to come cheaper though as it is a whole lot of potential extra trouble.

    An unexpected turn of events is the response of the gfs. The unanimous opinion is that my current wheels fit me to a t and that the MR2 is ever so wannabee even as they say they knów I can and will drive it sideways.
    The underlying issue is that they think it a poor man´s Boxter because they are clueless about less being more, of lighter being a heavy weighing advantage.
    The MR2 being light and simple with a ´long´ wheelbase makes it something it its own right. Even the modest output is just right for the car on the public road.

    Hope to drop by another seller later in the day. Perhaps make an offer this time out.
    When the going gets tough, the DAF gets going.

  48. #48
    Grand Master
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    Nope did not pan out.
    Looking at another one:
    Not thát low mileage but religeously maintained at Toyota dealers.

    I know the testers and punters did not like it but I réally love the auto clutch sequential box this one has but then I think a lot of variomatic/cvt too.
    Double exhaust and white hard top.

    White makes it look even more of a toy but is great to slap a huge anime decal over

    When the going gets tough, the DAF gets going.

  49. #49
    Grand Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Southern Spain
    Posts
    20,868

    crunch time

    Decision made, now making it stick.
    Living in Spain where bureaucracy has been developed in an art form that is not as simple as transfering the title. More so when as in this case it is between two Comunidades Autonomous. Also takes some time if you want to do it properly. Fingers crossed there are no glitches.

    Meanwhile found that there is a very simple manifold replacement without pre-cats. Checking what that does for emissions.

    Also checking the sports cams available. Although intended for a turbo conversion, the exhaust camshaft should work nicely in combination with the manifold.

    Any, fingers crossed.
    When the going gets tough, the DAF gets going.

  50. #50
    Master
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    4,923
    Quote Originally Posted by Huertecilla View Post
    Decision made, now making it stick.
    Living in Spain where bureaucracy has been developed in an art form that is not as simple as transfering the title. More so when as in this case it is between two Comunidades Autonomous. Also takes some time if you want to do it properly. Fingers crossed there are no glitches.

    Any, fingers crossed.
    You should come to the UK, ownership transfer is easy and we drive on the correct side of the road🤡🤡🤡👍

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