Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

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Topic Author
EngineerEd
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Aug 02, 2013 3:56 pm

Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by EngineerEd » Tue May 28, 2019 3:01 pm

Hi,

Frequent lurker, rare poster at BH. I am moving to the Bay area, more specifically Redwood City/San Mateo area, next month from an East coast city where I don't have a car and use public transit. As such, I need a car to commute to work and more generally get around. Since the weather seems to be much more fair, I figured this might be one of the rare times in life that it might make sense to get a sports car/convertible (the other being a 55+ y/o empty nester with cash to burn :P ). Please advise on if this is an awful idea.

Here's a quick financial summary for myself:

Age/Experience: 25, 3 years out of college
Marital Status: Single
Income: $125-135K ($115K salary, rest is target bonus range)
Net Worth: $120K Total ($65K Traditional 401k, 55k Roth IRA, $10K Taxable)
Debt/Loans: None (free of student loans as of 5 months ago!)
Emergency Fund/Cash: $16.5K (This grew from my target $6K emergency as I was anticipating a job switch and relocation)

FY2019 Savings Contributions:
Maxed (Backdoor) Roth IRA
On track to max Traditional 401k
$6K ($1K/month) Taxable savings (this will likely decrease with higher rent and car ownership costs in Bay area)

Upcoming expenses:
Security deposit for apartment
All moving expenses covered with relocation package ($4K pre-tax relocation bonus incoming too)


I plan to live within a 20 minute driving commute of work, so potentially as far as San Bruno or Palo Alto, but likely closer to/within San Mateo or Redwood City.

So, onto the thought process. I've always been a "car guy", but I understand that cars can get very expensive and that first and foremost it is an appliance/tool rather than a hobby toy. Like previously mentioned, the weather is nice in the Bay area, nice enough to sport summer tires year round. I don't have any need for additional seating right now (single, no significant other at the time, no kids).

If I were to buy, I would buy in cash, I would pay no more than $10K (much more likely to be $4-7K range). At these prices I'm likely looking at a >60k mileage NA/NB Miata (stick shift of course).

The alternatives would be to buy a more responsible (Civic, Accord, Corolla, Mazda 3) used car, or buy a responsible new car (not in cash probably) and drive it into the ground (8+ years, until repairs get tedious). An intermediate option also exists of getting a fun-ish but practical car, so like a Civic Si, Focus/Fiesta ST, GTI, etc.. There is no way I can live in this area without a car, the office is too far from the Caltrain (and far from the BART).

Lastly, the pros/cons I've thought of so far:

PROS:
- Convertible to enjoy the nice weather
- Fun car to drive
- Resale market seems very solid for used Miatas (I could buy, drive for a year or two, sell at not much of a loss)
- If I switch jobs again into an area where a car is not economical/needed (i.e. urban area with expensive parking, accessible public transit) I can sell (this is mainly to contrast the buying a new car and owning for long time)
- (EDIT) Unlike some unfortunate folks, I can and have comfortably fit into Miatas (5'9" tall)

CONS:
- Potential reliability issues with an older car (I am ok-handy, I can do oil, lights, brakes, basic stereo replace, etc.)
- Safety, very small/light car with 90s-era safety tech, low to the ground=lower visibility in traffic
- Impractical long term car (again, in contrast to buy new and own forever)
- Can't carry that many people or things (enough to carry groceries though)
- Not a great long-distance road trip car
- Not the absolute cheapest (non-lemon) used car I could feasibly get

Please let me know if there is anything obvious I'm missing here. The downsides seem limited overall other than the hard-to-quantify safety aspect. Financially I feel like I can afford it, but I recognize that there exist more economical used car options. Overall I don't think it'd affect my annual savings rate by more than a couple thousand vs. the cheapest possible car option.
Last edited by EngineerEd on Tue May 28, 2019 3:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

buhlaxtus
Posts: 122
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2016 1:55 am

Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by buhlaxtus » Tue May 28, 2019 3:06 pm

$10k? My first thought, buy the car, have fun, tighten the budget a little in other places and save enough to replace in 3-7 years when circumstances change.

My second thought, is there really such a thing as a 20 minute drive to work in those parts? And if so, can you afford to live in it?

ohai
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Joined: Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:10 pm

Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by ohai » Tue May 28, 2019 3:08 pm

What's up buddy. Here's a good test if you should buy a car like that. If you don't know you want it, you don't. Driving 20 minutes a day to commute in an older, cramped, loud Miata is not fun like driving on a mountain road. Driving bumper to bumper on the 101 in a manual sports car is not fun. Miata is a weekend car. For daily use, get a normal car like everyone else. At the very least, get some kind of sporty compact car like GTI, Subaru WRX or even Toyota 86/SubaruScion whatever.

lazydavid
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by lazydavid » Tue May 28, 2019 3:10 pm

Financial background is useful for determining if this makes sense, but you have left out the most important properties to this decision: your physical dimensions. I would 100% daily a Miata. But unfortunately I can only get one knee into it, and can't get my [posterior -- mod oldcomputerguy] much below the headrest.

If you're less than 6 foot and at least somewhat fit, go for it!

ThankYouJack
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Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2014 7:27 pm

Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by ThankYouJack » Tue May 28, 2019 3:12 pm

CON:
Once you own one, you'll want for the rest of your life :)
Also they're not great on the highway or stop and go
I'm 6'1" and fit in mine fine but initially felt a bit cramped


They're great cars. I had one for years and want to get another but tough with 2 kids. My biggest concern was safety with mine.

If you're going to be driving fun roads, go for it! If it's typical CA traffic, maybe a hybrid

SrGrumpy
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Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2015 3:21 pm

Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by SrGrumpy » Tue May 28, 2019 3:18 pm

25 - best period of your life! Definitely buy a used convertible (I have a 1995 BMW318ic myself), but see what else there is besides a Miata. I personally associate it more with Florida snowbirds and other demos you may not fit into. I'm sure Craigslist has a million options. Others may chime in, but while the Bay Area weather is definitely better than on the East Coast, it may not be as convertible-friendly as much as you might be hoping.
Last edited by SrGrumpy on Tue May 28, 2019 3:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Topic Author
EngineerEd
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Aug 02, 2013 3:56 pm

Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by EngineerEd » Tue May 28, 2019 3:18 pm

Thanks for the responses so far!

Few comments:
My second thought, is there really such a thing as a 20 minute drive to work in those parts? And if so, can you afford to live in it?
My office is in San Mateo county, so well within the "Peninsula" suburban area within the "Bay area". I plan to live very close by. Rents in the nicest luxury apartment buildings are absurd but there seem to be affordable enough options around.
Driving bumper to bumper on the 101 in a manual sports car is not fun.
Commuting via the 101 to work may be avoidable depending on where I end up living.
Financial background is useful for determining if this makes sense, but you have left out the most important properties to this decision: your physical dimensions. I would 100% daily a Miata. But unfortunately I can only get one knee into it, and can't get my [posterior -- mod oldcomputerguy] much below the headrest.

If you're less than 6 foot and at least somewhat fit, go for it!
Good point! I am 5'9" or thereabouts. Will add a quick edit to original post.

psteinx
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by psteinx » Tue May 28, 2019 3:30 pm

I'm a convertible fan - on my second convertible now.

That said, some things to keep in mind:

1) Fitting into the Miata - you've mentioned that you can. It's a challenge for many (including me). You're young enough and small enough to make it work now - good for you. Tall passengers may not love riding with you.

2) Safety, as you've mentioned.

3) Two passengers only, and what I assume is a tiny trunk. Unless you've got a reliable buddy to help you with a bigger vehicle, this may be more of a problem than you think. Want to buy furniture, appliances, or the like? How do you get it home? Group of 3 or 4 of you going out? Miata doesn't work. I'm a convertible fan, but I've owned them while we've had a second, more practical (larger) vehicle. And even so, my current convertible is a 4 seater - the extra seats work for people or some small-ish cargo.

4) Reliability. The main issue isn't so much whether you can do your own oil changes or not (though of course it's nice if you can), but how much time do you want to spend getting that car to and from the repair place? This can be an issue with any vehicle, but the top may give its own problems, and a heavily used Miata may have been driven hard by previous owners.

5) Commuting conditions. In my experience, the top down experience is best for relatively slow (0-40 mph), around town driving, not so much for highway driving. If you don't have a good feel for what your commute will look like, you may want to wait before committing to a convertible.

OK, so that's a lot of mostly negative feedback from me, a convertible owner. Yet I'm a convertible fan, and in a climate that's less hospitable to them than the Bay Area. They're fun - just go in (if you do) with eyes wide open...
Last edited by psteinx on Tue May 28, 2019 3:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ohai
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by ohai » Tue May 28, 2019 3:30 pm

"Commuting via the 101 to work may be avoidable depending on where I end up living."

That is my point, which is that given you will spend most of the time driving in heavy traffic, you will want something more comfortable for this purpose. Sports car is only fun if you get to drive it how it is meant to be driven, which for you, will be 5% of the time.

satoriboat
Posts: 33
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2018 1:15 pm

Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by satoriboat » Tue May 28, 2019 3:34 pm

I have owned a 1995 Miata since 2007. The good news is that it has been the most reliable, cheapest car to operate I have ever owned. I live not far from the Bay Area. That said, it is a sports car in the traditional way. Not quiet, not luxurious, hard riding and pretty snug. Mine is 99% stock,,I moved the mini spare from the trunk to underneath the trunk and instantly gained the ability to carry stuff. All it took was some simple exhaust modification. Highly recommended. Living with a Miata as a daily driver is a hit or miss proposition; it's not for everyone. You will know quickly if it's for you. ..

Topic Author
EngineerEd
Posts: 26
Joined: Fri Aug 02, 2013 3:56 pm

Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by EngineerEd » Tue May 28, 2019 3:41 pm

ohai wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 3:30 pm
"Commuting via the 101 to work may be avoidable depending on where I end up living."

That is my point, which is that given you will spend most of the time driving in heavy traffic, you will want something more comfortable for this purpose. Sports car is only fun if you get to drive it how it is meant to be driven, which for you, will be 5% of the time.
I'm not sure I follow.

Most of the prospective apartments I'm looking at wouldn't require getting on the 101 to get to work and would be a sub-15 minute commute in normal rush hour conditions.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by Sandtrap » Tue May 28, 2019 3:45 pm

No:
Imagine commuting on a multi lane highway in a mazda miata.
Heavy rain falling around you. Windshield wipers on high.
Cloudy view through the small windows consisting of: tractor trailer rig tires on your right (view under the trailer to the cars in the next right lane), delivery truck tires on your left, bumper and tailgate of the pickup truck in front.
As cars speed up, water spray from everyone's tires mist the road and your windshield.
then. . . . .
You've been sitting in stop and go traffic for far too long. Your back is killing you. Legs are cramping.

You need to carry some small furniture or something you got from Ikea. It does not fit in the miata.

You cannot carry 2 more folks in your car.

Theft, security.

Yes:
You are not commuting and going for a pleasant drive on a mountain road. Weather is great. Top down. Sunday morning, no traffic at all.
Perhaps a "date" riding along.

Thought:
Which of the above will you be doing more?

OTOH: you're 25. Get it while you can. Get it out of your system. Then sell it and get practical but fun.

FWIW: I owned one many years ago. It was a wonderful car for the first several months. Nice to drive for the next several months. Fun to own for the next several months. And, after 2 years, a nice fun great car "I used to own". DW also really liked it on fun drives.
Last edited by Sandtrap on Tue May 28, 2019 5:47 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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randomguy
Posts: 7969
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:00 am

Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by randomguy » Tue May 28, 2019 3:50 pm

EngineerEd wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 3:41 pm
ohai wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 3:30 pm
"Commuting via the 101 to work may be avoidable depending on where I end up living."

That is my point, which is that given you will spend most of the time driving in heavy traffic, you will want something more comfortable for this purpose. Sports car is only fun if you get to drive it how it is meant to be driven, which for you, will be 5% of the time.
I'm not sure I follow.

Most of the prospective apartments I'm looking at wouldn't require getting on the 101 to get to work and would be a sub-15 minute commute in normal rush hour conditions.
Odds are you will not be driving any roads that are remotely fun for Miata during a 15 min commute from any of those areas. You will be rolling down roads at 25 mph and sucking in the exhaust of the car in front of you Your commute will be a lot more pleasant in a civic. Now maybe you get chance to use the Miata on the weekend to make it it worthwhile to own it.

Honestly though if you want a Miata, there is nothing anyone will say that will discourage you.:) Best case is you buy it, realize you made a terrible mistake after 3 months, and sell it for a couple thousand loss. Worst case is you enjoy it and end up having to own 1.5 cars for the rest of your life:)

dknightd
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by dknightd » Tue May 28, 2019 3:50 pm

EngineerEd wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 3:01 pm
Hi,

Frequent lurker, rare poster at BH. I am moving to the Bay area, more specifically Redwood City/San Mateo area, next month from an East coast city where I don't have a car and use public transit. As such, I need a car to commute to work and more generally get around. Since the weather seems to be much more fair, I figured this might be one of the rare times in life that it might make sense to get a sports car/convertible (the other being a 55+ y/o empty nester with cash to burn :P ). Please advise on if this is an awful idea.

Here's a quick financial summary for myself:

Age/Experience: 25, 3 years out of college
Marital Status: Single
Income: $125-135K ($115K salary, rest is target bonus range)
Net Worth: $120K Total ($65K Traditional 401k, 55k Roth IRA, $10K Taxable)
Debt/Loans: None (free of student loans as of 5 months ago!)
Emergency Fund/Cash: $16.5K (This grew from my target $6K emergency as I was anticipating a job switch and relocation)

FY2019 Savings Contributions:
Maxed (Backdoor) Roth IRA
On track to max Traditional 401k
$6K ($1K/month) Taxable savings (this will likely decrease with higher rent and car ownership costs in Bay area)

Upcoming expenses:
Security deposit for apartment
All moving expenses covered with relocation package ($4K pre-tax relocation bonus incoming too)


I plan to live within a 20 minute driving commute of work, so potentially as far as San Bruno or Palo Alto, but likely closer to/within San Mateo or Redwood City.

So, onto the thought process. I've always been a "car guy", but I understand that cars can get very expensive and that first and foremost it is an appliance/tool rather than a hobby toy. Like previously mentioned, the weather is nice in the Bay area, nice enough to sport summer tires year round. I don't have any need for additional seating right now (single, no significant other at the time, no kids).

If I were to buy, I would buy in cash, I would pay no more than $10K (much more likely to be $4-7K range). At these prices I'm likely looking at a >60k mileage NA/NB Miata (stick shift of course).

The alternatives would be to buy a more responsible (Civic, Accord, Corolla, Mazda 3) used car, or buy a responsible new car (not in cash probably) and drive it into the ground (8+ years, until repairs get tedious). An intermediate option also exists of getting a fun-ish but practical car, so like a Civic Si, Focus/Fiesta ST, GTI, etc.. There is no way I can live in this area without a car, the office is too far from the Caltrain (and far from the BART).

Lastly, the pros/cons I've thought of so far:

PROS:
- Convertible to enjoy the nice weather
- Fun car to drive
- Resale market seems very solid for used Miatas (I could buy, drive for a year or two, sell at not much of a loss)
- If I switch jobs again into an area where a car is not economical/needed (i.e. urban area with expensive parking, accessible public transit) I can sell (this is mainly to contrast the buying a new car and owning for long time)
- (EDIT) Unlike some unfortunate folks, I can and have comfortably fit into Miatas (5'9" tall)

CONS:
- Potential reliability issues with an older car (I am ok-handy, I can do oil, lights, brakes, basic stereo replace, etc.)
- Safety, very small/light car with 90s-era safety tech, low to the ground=lower visibility in traffic
- Impractical long term car (again, in contrast to buy new and own forever)
- Can't carry that many people or things (enough to carry groceries though)
- Not a great long-distance road trip car
- Not the absolute cheapest (non-lemon) used car I could feasibly get

Please let me know if there is anything obvious I'm missing here. The downsides seem limited overall other than the hard-to-quantify safety aspect. Financially I feel like I can afford it, but I recognize that there exist more economical used car options. Overall I don't think it'd affect my annual savings rate by more than a couple thousand vs. the cheapest possible car option.
Do what makes you happy!

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tyrion
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by tyrion » Tue May 28, 2019 3:53 pm

I have a 2 seat convertible. Not a Miata, and not a stick shift, but still a 2 seat convertible. My other car is an old Prius, and my wife drives an SUV. If it's nice out, I prefer to drive the convertible. In the rain/cold/traffic, I'd rather be in the Prius. Which is probably what you would expect.

But I've driven the convertible the last 2 weeks in mostly rainy weather while my Prius was in use by a family member, so it's certainly doable. As others pointed out, it's not the most versatile of cars. Especially for someone setting up for life across the country. Hard to take on a Costco run. Not great for hauling a mountain bike.

I would buy something boring but serviceable first, then if work goes well and your living situation allows it start looking for the right Miata.

JediMisty
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Location: Central NJ

Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by JediMisty » Tue May 28, 2019 4:00 pm

EngineerEd wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 3:01 pm
Hi,

Frequent lurker, rare poster at BH. I am moving to the Bay area, more specifically Redwood City/San Mateo area, next month from an East coast city where I don't have a car and use public transit. As such, I need a car to commute to work and more generally get around. Since the weather seems to be much more fair, I figured this might be one of the rare times in life that it might make sense to get a sports car/convertible (the other being a 55+ y/o empty nester with cash to burn :P ). Please advise on if this is an awful idea.

Here's a quick financial summary for myself:

Age/Experience: 25, 3 years out of college
Marital Status: Single
Income: $125-135K ($115K salary, rest is target bonus range)
Net Worth: $120K Total ($65K Traditional 401k, 55k Roth IRA, $10K Taxable)
Debt/Loans: None (free of student loans as of 5 months ago!)
Emergency Fund/Cash: $16.5K (This grew from my target $6K emergency as I was anticipating a job switch and relocation)

FY2019 Savings Contributions:
Maxed (Backdoor) Roth IRA
On track to max Traditional 401k
$6K ($1K/month) Taxable savings (this will likely decrease with higher rent and car ownership costs in Bay area)

Upcoming expenses:
Security deposit for apartment
All moving expenses covered with relocation package ($4K pre-tax relocation bonus incoming too)


I plan to live within a 20 minute driving commute of work, so potentially as far as San Bruno or Palo Alto, but likely closer to/within San Mateo or Redwood City.

So, onto the thought process. I've always been a "car guy", but I understand that cars can get very expensive and that first and foremost it is an appliance/tool rather than a hobby toy. Like previously mentioned, the weather is nice in the Bay area, nice enough to sport summer tires year round. I don't have any need for additional seating right now (single, no significant other at the time, no kids).

If I were to buy, I would buy in cash, I would pay no more than $10K (much more likely to be $4-7K range). At these prices I'm likely looking at a >60k mileage NA/NB Miata (stick shift of course).

The alternatives would be to buy a more responsible (Civic, Accord, Corolla, Mazda 3) used car, or buy a responsible new car (not in cash probably) and drive it into the ground (8+ years, until repairs get tedious). An intermediate option also exists of getting a fun-ish but practical car, so like a Civic Si, Focus/Fiesta ST, GTI, etc.. There is no way I can live in this area without a car, the office is too far from the Caltrain (and far from the BART).

Lastly, the pros/cons I've thought of so far:

PROS:
- Convertible to enjoy the nice weather
- Fun car to drive
- Resale market seems very solid for used Miatas (I could buy, drive for a year or two, sell at not much of a loss)
- If I switch jobs again into an area where a car is not economical/needed (i.e. urban area with expensive parking, accessible public transit) I can sell (this is mainly to contrast the buying a new car and owning for long time)
- (EDIT) Unlike some unfortunate folks, I can and have comfortably fit into Miatas (5'9" tall)

CONS:
- Potential reliability issues with an older car (I am ok-handy, I can do oil, lights, brakes, basic stereo replace, etc.)
- Safety, very small/light car with 90s-era safety tech, low to the ground=lower visibility in traffic
- Impractical long term car (again, in contrast to buy new and own forever)
- Can't carry that many people or things (enough to carry groceries though)
- Not a great long-distance road trip car
- Not the absolute cheapest (non-lemon) used car I could feasibly get

Please let me know if there is anything obvious I'm missing here. The downsides seem limited overall other than the hard-to-quantify safety aspect. Financially I feel like I can afford it, but I recognize that there exist more economical used car options. Overall I don't think it'd affect my annual savings rate by more than a couple thousand vs. the cheapest possible car option.
I owned one for three years. Not practical for me as a daily car due to the weather in the Northeast. Since you're young with no kids or house, I'd say go ahead with a used one. If you find it inpractical, you can sell it without much of a loss. Soon when I'm retired and have downsized to a condo or townhouse, I'll likely get another one. I loved mine.

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wageoghe
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Location: Northern Alabama

Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by wageoghe » Tue May 28, 2019 4:39 pm

I don't have an answer for your question, but you will be living near Colma, CA. While I haven't been there myself, I have seen a documentary about it. It has quite an interesting story and looks like it would make for a peaceful weekend outing...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colma,_California

sk2101
Posts: 288
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by sk2101 » Tue May 28, 2019 4:47 pm

If you are going to enjoy it then do it! Those cars are reliable enough for daily commute. I would avoid long distance on freeways on those cars though. First, its' not comfortable, second - I don't feel safe.

noraz123
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Location: SF Bay Area

Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by noraz123 » Tue May 28, 2019 4:52 pm

Welcome (soon) to the bay area.

I would say go for it! If your commute is <20 miles, would be a fun car. Just keep in mind two things -

1 Switching jobs or company moves location. You could have a longer commute than planned
2 Tahoe,wine country, Monterrey, etc. Will you want to explore the greater area by driving? Will a Miata work for these longer destinations? Especially Tahoe if you ski/snowboard

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jabberwockOG
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by jabberwockOG » Tue May 28, 2019 4:55 pm

Former Miata owner that loved it as a weekend toy. Miatas are not even remotely a heavy traffic commuter style car. Very few cars would be worse for commuting.

quantAndHold
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by quantAndHold » Tue May 28, 2019 5:00 pm

I thought I would want a Miata once, then test drove it and decided it was too small and noisy. So I got a Mazda 3 instead, which I still have and still really like.

You're 25, and the car is cheap. Try it. If it doesn't work out, sell it and get something else.

adamthesmythe
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by adamthesmythe » Tue May 28, 2019 5:32 pm

> I am moving to the Bay area

> I plan to live within a 20 minute driving commute of work

Are you sure that's even possible?

Unless you are VERY close to work (and I think that probably means within 1-2 miles) your commute will not be 20 minutes. And it will be in stop and go traffic.

A Miata (with a manual) is not so delightful in stop and go traffic.

Goal33
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by Goal33 » Tue May 28, 2019 5:44 pm

The other obvious con is that you probably can't afford (or won't want to pay for) a garage space (and maybe not even a carport) on your income in this area.

Edit: I'd get the car
A man with one watch always knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never sure.

SC Anteater
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by SC Anteater » Tue May 28, 2019 5:54 pm

I'd say get something else fun, not a convertible.

While the weather here is much better than the northeast, we still have 4-5 months of coldish, rainy weather. You won't be putting that top down from mid November to early April, most likely.

Car crimes are rampant here. I wouldn't make it any easier for a criminal to get into my car by having a soft top.

Everyone else has said stuff about the commute around here, so I won't go into that.

Full disclosure -- as a young 'un I had a convertible Mustang. I lived in Newport Beach. Even down there I didn't put the top down *all* that much -- if you're just running to the store, what's the point of putting the top down. And, my top did get sliced by a thief. I'd love to have a Miata too, but not as a daily driver.

What about a Subaru BRZ?

crossbow
Posts: 156
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by crossbow » Tue May 28, 2019 6:03 pm

OP, get the Miata. Most of the comments here are obviously not from people who live near San Mateo. I do. San Mateo is nothing like San Francisco. Street parking is aplenty. No need to pay for a garage parking space. Car break ins are not as common as in the city. The Bay area is the perfect place in the world for a convertible. Summer nights and winter mornings are great for driving with the top down. All other seasons are great 24/7. The one caveat is that if you want to stay within a 20 min drive of San Mateo, you are looking at expensive real estate. And if you do end up within a 20 minute drive, the boglehead thing to do would be to bike the 5 or so miles to work... However if you love the car, get it. I am not too much older than you and I have a long list of cars I wish I had purchased when I was younger. Don't be like me.
Last edited by crossbow on Tue May 28, 2019 6:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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snackdog
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by snackdog » Tue May 28, 2019 6:04 pm

I can not imagine a more ideal car for your situation, freeway commute potential notwithstanding. Don’t walk, run to the used car lot. Test one and then go for it.

investingdad
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by investingdad » Tue May 28, 2019 6:05 pm

I've got an 04 Mazdaspeed Miata I bought new.

The convertible aspect is fine, but not the main point of the car. It's primarily lightweight and handles really well. It's also harsh on rough roads. Sports car but not high powered, you can make it quite fast with about $3500 of Flyin Miata stuff, though.

Resale market is solid.

I'd pass as my only car. Maybe also get an old Civic sedan for a few grand to go with it?

adamthesmythe
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by adamthesmythe » Tue May 28, 2019 6:08 pm

I had a convertible when I lived in the valley decades ago and I have owned a Miata in the northeast.

You CAN get significant use from it in CA in the winter. You CAN get a Miata with a hard top. Most apartments have one dedicated parking space, often under cover.

What you can't do anything about is the terrible traffic.

By the way, buying a used Miata is quite a challenge. They are in high demand. When I finally sold mine I was getting phone calls for weeks afterwards.

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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by dognose » Tue May 28, 2019 6:24 pm

I drove a Miata as my daily driver for five years, and loved every minute of it. My commute was 38 miles each way along twisting back roads, and the Miata was a total hoot to drive. I always arrived at work, and came home from work, with a goofy smile on my face. The Miata is also far more practical than many people would imagine - - great on gas, reliable as a tank, with plenty of room for whatever you need as a daily driver. After five years I realized I was becoming an old guy, so I sold the Miata (for a healthy profit!) and bought a boring SUV. Still miss the Miata, and may buy another one some day. The Miata is the very definition of a fun, affordable sports car. Go for it.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue May 28, 2019 6:36 pm

Get it. It's a little big as a sports car to me (I owned a Lotus Elise......sold to me by a 6' 5" friend who bought a Miata). They're cheap to own, fun, there an absolutely huge aftermarket (for every Camry part available out there, there's probably 90 from various vendors for the Miata). They're also similar to Civics and Subarus in that they're built like Legos. I considered buying a Miata track car. na car with an nb 1.8L, mazdaspeed miata shocks and springs, torsen rear diff from who knows what year. Lots of track guys do it on a small budget so finding out how to upgrade or replace on the cheap is easy.

I've driven manuals in Boston traffic for decades. Some people will whine about anything.

When you have some years on the job and on the Miata and need something more grown up, buy a Wrangler (I have one) and keep the Miata. Life is too short to drive boring cars.
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ThankYouJack
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by ThankYouJack » Tue May 28, 2019 8:04 pm

Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 6:36 pm
When you have some years on the job and on the Miata and need something more grown up, buy a Wrangler (I have one) and keep the Miata. Life is too short to drive boring cars.
How's the Wrangler compare to a Miata? I'm a former Miata own but sold it because I now have a couple kids and didn't have the space for 3 cars. I rented a Wrangler in Hawaii years ago and wanted one for a while but never seemed practical enough or fun enough to drive to make me pull the trigger.

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue May 28, 2019 8:18 pm

ThankYouJack wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 8:04 pm
Jack FFR1846 wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 6:36 pm
When you have some years on the job and on the Miata and need something more grown up, buy a Wrangler (I have one) and keep the Miata. Life is too short to drive boring cars.
How's the Wrangler compare to a Miata? I'm a former Miata own but sold it because I now have a couple kids and didn't have the space for 3 cars. I rented a Wrangler in Hawaii years ago and wanted one for a while but never seemed practical enough or fun enough to drive to make me pull the trigger.
It's fun.

Join an offroad club. Take the kid's offroading. I do. 4 door. You don't have to spend a ton of money, either.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

dogperson
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by dogperson » Tue May 28, 2019 8:48 pm

I've owned a convertible. Some things to consider:

- Will you have covered parking at work and at home? I have neither, so I didn't always take the 2-3 minutes each to put the top down at home, up at work, down after work, up again at home. When I was working at a location with covered parking, it was great to put the top down once in the morning and up once at night. Or maybe you'll have a private lot at work and feel ok with leaving it down if you can trust the weather.

- Even if you don't mind the extra wind at highway speed, a top-down highway ride is much louder than driving at slower speeds on less trafficked roads. Not optimal for enjoying your music, and podcasts are difficult.

Do you need to buy a car before you move? Could you rent a convertible for a week when you first arrive and see how it goes?

Re: cargo space - unless you buy a big pickup, there will always be something too big to carry. The question is where the boundary is between "fits in my car" and "need to have it delivered or borrow a car." Then think about how often you'll be carrying stuff over that boundary. I drive a bigger car now but rarely carry anything bigger than a 12-roll pack of paper towels. The last big thing I carried was probably a grill, and I wouldn't have been that upset if I'd had to pay to get it delivered instead of putting it in the car.

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Watty
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by Watty » Tue May 28, 2019 9:38 pm

EngineerEd wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 3:01 pm
If I were to buy, I would buy in cash, I would pay no more than $10K (much more likely to be $4-7K range). At these prices I'm likely looking at a >60k mileage NA/NB Miata (stick shift of course).
One thing to keep in mind is that many apartments do not allow you to work on your car in the parking lot so you may need to pay a mechanic to do even minor repairs, and that will be expensive in the Bay Area because of the high cost of living. Try calling several mechanics in the area that you will be living and ask for the price of a common repair.

The Miata is not a terribly expensive car. I would not rule out buying one that is new or just a few years old even if it would cost more.
EngineerEd wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 3:01 pm
next month from an East coast city where I don't have a car and use public transit.
....
Age/Experience: 25, 3 years out of college
Be sure to get quotes for car insurance before you buy a car since it can vary with the car model a lot more than you might think.

Without several years of prior car insurance it may be more expensive.

If the Miata is classified as a sports car it may be more expensive.

It may be more expensive because of your age, especially if you are male.

Get ample car insurance and at least a million dollar umbrella policy. You have great earnings potential so you really need good insurance.

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whodidntante
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by whodidntante » Tue May 28, 2019 9:54 pm

I daily drive a Mustang GT in a snowbelt state. I enjoy it. Pretty sure it's possible to commute in a Miata.

Small Savanna
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by Small Savanna » Tue May 28, 2019 10:10 pm

You can afford it. Have fun! Plenty of time for practical family cars as you get older.

Thegame14
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by Thegame14 » Tue May 28, 2019 10:44 pm

Id get a mustang, but I cant even drive shift, just seems like the cool car to drive to me...

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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by lazydavid » Wed May 29, 2019 7:50 am

dogperson wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 8:48 pm
I've owned a convertible. Some things to consider:

- Will you have covered parking at work and at home? I have neither, so I didn't always take the 2-3 minutes each to put the top down at home, up at work, down after work, up again at home. When I was working at a location with covered parking, it was great to put the top down once in the morning and up once at night. Or maybe you'll have a private lot at work and feel ok with leaving it down if you can trust the weather.
What kind of convertible takes 2-3 minutes each time to cycle the roof? I've owned or regularly driven three--and test-driven dozens of others--and the longest I've seen is right around 30 seconds for the super-complicated roof on my father-in-law's Murano CrossCabriolet. But even that can be done while driving slowly, so it doesn't really add much time to the trip at all.

Most Miatas, on the other hand, have a manual top that can be dropped in literally three seconds--flip the latch and throw the whole thing behind you. Granted it takes closer to 7 seconds to put back up and latch. But very, very quick.

scout80
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by scout80 » Wed May 29, 2019 8:17 am

Get a cheap, well maintained, high mileage civic or an accord for the commute and save up for a fun car/Miata to drive on weekends, dates, etc.

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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by sjt » Wed May 29, 2019 8:44 am

I DD'd a 1992 Miata before kids. The most fun car I've ever owned - I plan on getting another Miata someday.

I didn't get sick of it, but then again I didn't commute in heavy traffic. If I did, I would still choose Miata.
"The one who covets is the poorer man, | For he would have that which he never can; | But he who doesn't have and doesn't crave | Is rich, though you may hold him but a knave." - Wife of Bath tale

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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by Presintense » Wed May 29, 2019 8:53 am

+1 on a GTI, WRX, Civic, etc. instead. Fun driver that can also meet more needs.
Performance = Potential - Distraction

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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by bubbadog » Wed May 29, 2019 9:44 am

I have owned my 1994 Miata since 1996. I have never commuted in it.

My suggestion would be a Mazda 3 as a compromise between fun and practical.

Yinks
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by Yinks » Wed May 29, 2019 10:44 am

I've lived in the bay area for the last 12 years. I can tell you that you will NOT be spending your weekends in whatever suburban peninsula city you live and work in. It's for families, not for 25 year old singles.

You'll be in SF on the weekends and for dates, or doing 2-4 hour drives for weekend road trips to Santa Cruz, Tahoe, Yosemite, and Napa. Get something you can road trip with.

Gas and insurance is expensive out here. I imagine a "sporty" car for a single 25 year old is a flag for higher risk by insurance companies leading to higher rates than say a mid size sedan.

I drove a Honda accord out here for 10 years. Good mileage, low insurance, low maintenance cost. Just upgraded to a Rav4 now that I have a family.

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EngineerEd
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by EngineerEd » Thu May 30, 2019 3:00 pm

Thanks for all the replies! A lot more support than I expected :D

Since there's so many replies I won't go through directly quote+replying to each one, but just a few general thoughts/comments on concerns you all have brought up, as well as a quick update into where I am in my thinking process.

_____________________
Replies to Concerns:

In terms of commuting everyday with a stickshift, I'm not too concerned. My last car was a heavily used 04 Civic with a stick and I had a 7.5 mile commute which took 25-35 minutes each way (read: lots of traffic, some stop and go, a few chronic stoplights) for about a year before I sold the car (maintenance cost exceeded worth of car, parking also cost $80/mo) and switched to a 50 minute subway+walk commute. I would say I am generally indifferent to driving stick in traffic, the only time I really hated is when going stop and go for a mile+ uphill (which was never part of my normal commute).

My main additional concern with a Miata for a commute besides the aforementioned safety factor is just noise. It seems to be a ubiquitous comment here and on more car-enthusiast-oriented sites that a soft top Miata even with the top up is still noisy. I suppose the suspension will no doubt be stiffer than the civic I had too, I'll have to see what the quality of roads is like on my home finding trip coming up soon.

Most places (but certainly not all) I'm looking at for housing include a covered "carport" parking space. My office has a large multilevel parking garage so things will definitely be fine on that end.

Some have mentioned a Miata as a second car. I would consider it if I had a way to park two cars (at least one of which a covered space) without incurring substantial extra monthly parking costs. Perhaps I could store the Miata at my company's parking garage.

Also, while I mention the Miata in particular, I roughly speaking mean a used+affordable generally impractical but fun to drive sports car/convertible. I specify Miata because it's the exemplar of that archetype. Others I'd consider in that category might be the Honda S2000, Toyobaru FRS/BRZ/86, etc.. My main shtick with those is that S2000 pricing is becoming inflated/collectible-ish status, and the Toyobaru just isn't old enough in model years for there to be a great selection in my price range. I do appreciate that both of those would be less cramped and slightly more practical than a Miata (more so for the Toyobaru, novelty-sized back seats and all, coupe instead of soft-top).

Insurance cost will be a minor concern I suppose. I will luckily be turning 26 in the next few weeks, so at least that takes me out of the dreaded "Male 16-25 y/o" bracket. Generally speaking most of my research indicates that insurance on Miatas is surprisingly affordable in the same way that insurance for Corvettes is surprisingly affordable: main sales demographic is older+safer drivers. The point that I haven't had car insurance for a few years though is a good one. It'll be just over 2 years since I've been insured (in that I haven't owned a car in that timespan). I'm sure my insurance will be slightly more expensive for that reason.

_____________________
Thoughts Moving Forward:

In general, having slowly done more research on cars, housing, commute, etc. in the area, I think the plan will be to lock down housing first (hopefully by end of home-finding trip in mid-June). The housing location, parking, and length/quality of commute will then dictate my tolerance for a fun/impractical car vs. comfortable (roughly a spectrum from Miata to Accord, with something like a Civic Si or Focus ST in the middle).

I've also decided against considering buying any new cars (to be clear: I was never even considering a new Miata, only cheap+used). I think the possibility of moving somewhere where it is impractical to own a car (i.e. SF proper, NYC, etc.) in the next 2-3 years is too high for me to feel comfortable with taking the worst years of depreciation hit from a new car. So at this point it's going to be used cars only.

My company's relocation benefits generously let me rent a car for up to 15 days after moving free of expense. I did not know this before today but now that I do I will plan to use this benefit. This way I can see what my commute will be like in real-time in a normal "commuting friendly" car. This will also give me additional geographic range to search for a good used car (Miata or otherwise).

EdNorton
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Re: Used Miata as a daily driver, terrible idea?

Post by EdNorton » Thu May 30, 2019 3:19 pm

Go for a used Miata. I got a beautiful 1999 NB with 10,000 miles and a stick for $10k last July. Had a Mini Cooper S convertible, golf clubs would not fit in trunk. Love the Miata.
Outside a dog, a book is man's best friend, inside a dog, it's too dark to read - Groucho

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