ChrisTropea Associate Editor
10/25/22 4:10 p.m.

You want a classic roadster, but don’t know which one to buy?

We drove an early Mazda Miata, Alfa Romeo Spider, MGB and Triumph TR6 back-to-back to find out which one offers the most bang for your buck.

Presented by CRC Industries.

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Coupefan Reader
10/26/22 12:17 p.m.

You used the wrong Italian in the comparison. The Fiat 124 Spider would have been a better choice.  Why?

1.  Classic flowing lines and coach built by Pininfarina.

2. A revolutionary engine designed by famous Lampredi.  See #3

3.  No less than ten wins on the world rally stage in various applications*.

* yes, I include  the Fiat-Abarth 124 Spider in the European Rally Championship 

Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
10/27/22 8:32 a.m.

In reply to Coupefan :

We recently have found a nice 124 Spider nearby that we will be writing about soon.


10/27/22 8:49 a.m.

If the plan is to use the machine for  more than just driving to club events, then the Miata is the only option for the average buyer.

wspohn SuperDork
10/27/22 10:57 a.m.

The Fiat 124 would have to be around to be considered. Most of them have long dissolved into piles of rust (Italian rust proofing in the period was almost non-existent - it just had to handle a heavy dew in Rome).

I once found a stash of cars and somewhat to my regret passed them on to an Italian friend. They included a rare (though not powerful) factory turbo 124, and a Fiat Dino coupe.

On the original question, I vote with the Alfas (even though I spent most of my time on the track battling them).

RichardSIA Dork
10/28/22 1:00 a.m.

Well, I have owned all of these.

Still have my 78 Alfa Romeo Spider.
No, not the 73 and earlier seen here, but I plan to mod the body just a bit to delete the ugly Nader bumpers.

Miata was a disappointment, a real PITA to work on and not nearly so reliable as often claimed.
It made a great smoke generator even with two different engines.
I did not keep it long.
If the Lotus Elan the Miata was copied from had been included the Miata would not even be a contender.

MGB is better in the chrome bumper years, not outstanding style but very solid unibody and still easy to work on.
Has enough power to be a DD but not enough to be a problem for first time owners.

TR6 is a larger car like the Alfa, clean timeless style if you can just avoid or remove the cow catcher rubber over-riders.
Six cylinder is smooth running and feels like more than the claimed horsepower. OD is great if you can get it.
Very clean cars are getting expensive, decent cars are a bargain as parts are available and mostly inexpensive.

Alfa is very Italian, with it's mechanical weak point being from Porsche, the transmission synchros.
It differs from all the others in soft suspension and corner lean that may take some time to get used too.
Rust issues are the killer of them as the water drains were not well designed and the floors/rockers are very structural.
Engines are very reliable DOHC with FI or Webers depending on year.

None are "The best" they each have their own flavor.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/28/22 12:05 p.m.

In reply to RichardSIA :

I'd agree that each has its own flavor. 

Gary UberDork
10/28/22 10:32 p.m.

That really was a great, informative article. I'm a geezer, and loved LBC's from the fifties and sixties when I was young. But I have had a '96 NA Miata for over twenty years, and think it far surpasses anything from my youth. In my garage today I have the '96 NA Miata, and a new '22 MX-5 RF GT. I'm happy. But now there's this Bugeye Sprite with just the right amount of patina that is calling me.

Gary UberDork
10/28/22 10:47 p.m.

Great article. I grew up in the sixties, so my preference was always sports cars from that era. That was until I bought my '96 Miata in 2000.  It's great. Then, six months ago I bought a new 2022 MX-5 RF GT. So I thought I had it all. But now I'm now looking at a Bugeye Sprite with just the right amount of patina.

Gary UberDork
10/28/22 11:01 p.m.

Ya know, there's a problem with this forum. First, my original post didn't post. I thought I screwed up, so I took the time to re-construct the original post to the best of my memory. I posted again, but then saw that my first post was there. So I tried to delete one of them, but I couldn't because there's no ability to delete anymore. So now I have two similar posts here. frown

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
10/29/22 12:03 p.m.

In reply to Gary :

We'll check on the back end of the forum, but no foul on the double posts.

Glad to hear that you're enjoying your Miatas. My brother has a '96. Mine is a '92. Our parents have an ND roadster. 

I was recently talking with a Miata owner at a local autocross. He's had/still has several cars, from very original NA to swapped cars. He recently bought an ND. Sounds like he's going to sell the earlier cars and buy a second ND–just finds that generation to be perfect. Hard to argue.

alfadriver MegaDork
10/29/22 1:27 p.m.

Love the Alfa and the Miata- although I have the coupe version of the Spider to go along with my NB.  

That being said- this is the ultimate "best is subjective" list of cars.  For the most part, you are going to have to do *something* on them all, you will have to compromise *something* to drive them comfortably, etc.  Which means it's imperative to have an emotional connection with the car you choose.

Which means there's no wrong answer.  And there are no wrong cars to add to the list for choices.

The only "wrong" answer is the one that takes so much work that you can't stand it at the end of the project (which is generally a different amount for everyone).

swampyankee New Reader
2/3/23 9:13 a.m.

At the risk of having to duck cannon-fire, when will the "modern classics" like the BMW Z3 and even the 1st gen Audi TT be considered in this mix? As classicly styled as the Miata is, it's still only pre-dates it's later competition by a few years. I've owned all the abovementioned cars except the Alfa, plus Midgets, Spifires, and a couple TR7's. But these days I favor the Teutonic flavors of Z3 and TT. My current ride is a TT Quattro Roadster. With 225 hp (more like 260 hp with remap) and all-wheel drive, it offers me quite a few smiles per mile and is sporty enough if not quite as nimble as my old '94 Miata. 

Flyman615 New Reader
2/3/23 11:35 a.m.

Too bad you all missed the best roadster of the era--the Datsun 2000. 135-150hp and standard 5-speed. Comfortable, fast and nimble. Raced very successfully by BRE and Bob Sharp. And BTW, the Datsun roadsters came out BEFORE the MGB, so it's NOT a Japanese copy, as many of the uninformed assume.

wspohn SuperDork
2/3/23 12:31 p.m.

The Datsun 2000 was indeed a very nice car technically - the engine was fairly aggressive for the time in the twin Solex form - 150 bhp out of a 2 lter engine was very good back then. The failings were aesthetic - the styling was that odd Japanese period stuffiness that they didn't break out of until the 240Z (which was designed by 

The first gen Datsun sports was never seen this side of the pond so the MGB comment isn't applicable. The first one to show up here was the Fairlady 1500 in 1963, the same year as the MGB started production.  But yes, the Datsun was never an MG copy (if it had been it would have looked a lot better).

Japanese styling was stodgy to say the least in that early period. The only bright points were the Toyota 2000 GT and the Datsun 240Z).  The involvement of Goertz in the design of the latter is subject to challenge, BTW.

Larry734 New Reader
2/11/24 1:43 p.m.

In reply to Gary :

Owned a Bug Eye in the early 60's and a Sprite in the '70's.  Despite the lesser accepted norms of acceleration then I found both bog slow.

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