Page 3:  MX5 Mk3.5 Sport Black Limited Edition (239 of 500)    

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After 2 long European road trips it was time to retire "Beryl" our faithful I.8 Miyako and get something with a few less miles showing. We hopefully have a few more years of exploring Europe left in us so after looking at a Caterham 7 and the Lotus Elise (and briefly the GT86) it was decided to stick with the MX5 because to be perfectly honest there's not another car I'd want to do a long tour with, and Wee Jim has loved the two we've had.  For the Beryl replacement I thought a bit more power would be good along with a 6 speed gearbox and more sporty handling, so I went out hunting for a 2.0 litre Sport Tech based car but I really wanted a Limited Edition, preferably a Sport Black - in red.  I would have liked a soft top version but all of the limited edition 2.0 litre cars have the powered hardtop so I compromised on that.

Locally nothing was on offer and even further afield Sport Blacks for sale were non-existent, I did go all the way over to Yorkshire to look at a Kuro limited edition but the Mazda sales guy offered me an insulting part exchange allowance on the Miyako so I walked out. He actually chased me out of the showroom and into the car park making better offers but he'd totally blown all his credibility by then so I left.  Then a few days later a 2011, 5k mile Sport Black (in red) turned up at the Cardiff Mazda main dealer. It was a 400 mile round trip but having spoken the the salesman there and ascertaining he had more integrity that the Yorkshire fella I made the trip to South Wales to see it.  As soon as drove it I knew it was my car, the only thing I could see that needed attention was it had some surface rust underneath on the sub-frames but as the intention was to strip it out to fit new springs and rustproof it anyway that didn't bother me too much. Rusting seems to be a trait of the later MX5s - penny pinching manufacturing I think. The deal was struck and I returned a few days later to pick it up,  on the way home the sat nav was set for no motorways and I had an absolute blast, this car is fun! 

As soon as I got it home, I started work on it. First up was to remove the disgusting graphics that were plastered all over it. The car was the JCT600 Demo car so they had really gone overboard with the graphics but thankfully they didn't take much getting off. At the time of writing I'm still considering whether or not to remove the registration number and put it on an age related one. My first reaction was to get rid, but it's part of the car's history now so I may leave it.  After the graphics were taken off I set about fitting the springs but first had to clean up the rust that had already started to take hold. These cars really have no significant protection under them at all, for two years old this was quite disgraceful really, but at least I know it's been done now so a yearly check should keep things under control. 



Dealer shots showing the awful graphics and the embarrassing number plate!



The car as bought with the graphics removed



After lowering 



This is what most MX5s look like underneath after a couple of winters on British roads. There's very little paint on the subframes and suspension components 



One of the rear Bilstein suspension legs out of the car




Stripped down and ready for a clean up and fitting the new Gen Mazda Eibach springs




Rebuilt units ready to be re-fitted to the car




The subframes and suspension links wire brushed, treated and painted then undersealed
The chassis sections of the car's bodyshell were also treated with Dinitrol






Out for a drive after fitting the springs. It just needs a chassis alignment doing to finish it off



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