Which classic roadster is the better buy? | Alfa Spider vs. MGB vs. TR6 vs. Miata


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.

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