Welcome to what might be a long (but hopefully entertaining) read. Nine years ago I made a drunken bid on EBay and accidentally ended up with a Mk1 Mazda MX-5. I wanted an MR2. I’m glad I got it wrong. G633 NNH was bought with the sole intention of ragging it to death on a banger rally but after a slog across Europe culminating in some hairy laps of the ‘ring, a bond formed between me and the car and it’s now the longest serving member of my fleet. This is the story of it’s total restoration at the hands of MX-5 specialist, Thrussington garage. Newest posts are at the top – if you’d like to read the story from the very start, turn your screen upside down or stand on your head. 


Part 14 – Finished ! The glamour of Motoring journalism and MK1 v MK4.

There are times when we get paid to ponce about in the south of France in a Maserati. These are the good times. There are other times when we have to get up in the middle of the night, drive 200 miles in the rain to Wales, then have someone bolt lots of camera kit to a newly restored MX-5 while someone else takes the piss out of you and your beloved car. These are also good times, but they’re a bit less glamorous. Also, they’re sometimes stressful. If the car didn’t make the shoot, I wouldn’t get paid and the bill for restoration would mean raiding my daughters piggy bank. And perhaps a real bank. I’ve chucked quite a bit of money at this car now and while I’m very happy with the result it isn’t a flawless, complete, resto. It’s arse needs a respray, really, but as we MotorPunks always say – cars are to be driven, not detailed. Anyway, here’s my car, perhaps the oldest MX-5 on the road, with one of the newest. Pretty, innit?

photo by rich duisberg

The film pitches me and my old MK1 against Alex Goy and his new (press-fleet) MK4. Old versus new. We have LLandow to ourselves. Mazda have gone to such lengths to preserve the lovely driving dynamics of the MK1 it makes me wonder why anyone would bother with a new MK4. The script calls for me to champion retro motoring, and Alex to big up new stuff. It has me arguing that MK1s are appreciating in value, are cheap to buy and run and are simple fun, whereas youthful Alex points at my rust and enthuses about the MK4’s cruise control. It takes ages to film things. The camera car is a MK5 Golf Gti with a chap hanging out the boot filming and pointing where and how he wants the car driven. Sideways, mostly. Details are all filmed, tea drunk, I say ‘ballbag’ and we all have fun.


A few words on the MK4. It drives very much like a MK3, which in turn is very much like a MK2, which in turn is very much like a MK1. Yeah, there are differences, like power, but the feel and grip is much the same. With the same PWR and tyres I’d bet a MK1 and MK4 would be neck and neck around a track. The new 1.5 and 2 litre engines are frugal but don’t really offer any more character than the rough-sounding original 1.6 litre. The styling and cabin are the biggest tangible differences. I don’t like the cabin of this 2 litre sport car. It has worthless electrical nick-nacks like blind spot indicators, lane departure and the big, ugly screen bolted to the middle of the dash. There’s a whopping hump underneath your left calf where the gearbox intrudes into the footwell. The leather looks and feels like it comes from a stray cat. The cupholders are by your elbow, precisely where your funnybone sits, meaning the lovely light MX-5 steering feel is lost with pins and needles in your hands. It has a twiddly iDrve thingy. Some people will love this tech. I don’t need it, thanks. The styling is subjective, but the happy face of the MX-5 is no more, it now looks like a kicked mongel. Those front wings look tall and frowny. A happy-faced MK1 gets you let out at junctions. The angry MK4 will be ignored. I love how it drives, it’s well priced for a new car, and the reliability is always welcome but it costs ten times a good MK1 but didn’t make me feel ten times happier.

Filming ends and there’s a long slog home after a day in the rain in Wales. The script was fun and informative (I hope, I wrote it) apart from a bit where I got rather carried away and said Senna would have loved the MX-5.  I might have that bit edited out. The MK4 is great, really, if you love new cars. I really enjoyed benchmarking my old car against the new car, it was also great to champion the joys of running a modern classic. That’s what motoring journalism is about, for me, telling stories you’re enthusiastic and knowledgeable about and hoping you make people smile. Even when you’re up to your ankles in rainwater, fluffing your lines and hoping the cameraman doesn’t focus on your hangover.

It was a fitting way to sign off on my big restoration. I’d rather not talk costs, times or perhaps the fact I’ve still a couple of tiny rust bubbles on my arches. It was restored the way I wanted, to the budget I had, and I urge anyone with a MK1 to invest as much TLC as they can afford in their car. MK1s are getting scarce and these cars are so good they should be saved for future generations to skid around on camera, smiling and talking twaddle.

na MX-5 versus md MX-5 (6)

A big thanks to Thrussington Garage for their hard work. For MX-5 restoration in the Midlands I can thoroughly recommend them.

Part 13 – A car in a condom in the paintshop.

With the car MOT’D it’s time for paint, the car gets driven (with MOT, tax and insurance and under it’s own steam!) to the paint shop next door. It’s all about the preparation. Little rust scabs on the doors have been removed and filled, a tiny dent in the top of one of the replacement wings filled, everything masked up carefully and the car placed inside what looks like a giant condom. I am asked to leave the paint booth. What do these perverts have planned?

Multiple layers of paint, go on, then clear coat. It looks fantastic before it’s even polished. I was a little concerned about the panel fit of the replacement Tong-Yang-Love-You-Longtime wings as I’d heard about old tooling but they’re pretty good for the money. I have not gone for a full respray. The back end of the car is pretty good anyway and next year I’ll get the arches replaced, they have a couple of tiny bubbles but nothing horrible. I’m on the limit of my budget now and it can wait.

The new roof goes on very shortly. We are nearing completion, which is good, because we’re filming at Llandow with it next week!

Part 12 – A trip to the dentist and MOT fail lists of doom

With all the mechanicals now complete, car serviced, lovely new coil-overs fitted (I couldn’t resist the temptation to drop it just a couple of mm) and all the tracking, balancing and other oily stuff done – it is time for an MOT. For me, and this car in particular, a trip to the test station has always been like a visit to the dentist; Stressing while some humourless chap in latex gloves pokes about with a metal stick and shows me the inevitable decay, charges me for this discomfort and leaves me feeling like I’ll never smile again. This car has been sent home dribbling down its chin very many times over the years. If you want to check your car’s MOT history online it’s very simple (and fascinating, too).

mx5 MOT time restoration

G633 NNH has a very colourful MOT fail history, take 2006, for example: Nearside Headlamp aim too low (1.8), Offside Headlamp aim too low (1.8), Nearside Suspension component mounting prescribed area is excessively corroded (2.4.A.3), Offside Suspension component mounting prescribed area is excessively corroded (2.4.A.3), Nearside Inner Front Brake pipe excessively corroded (3.6.B.2c), Offside Inner Front Brake pipe excessively corroded (3.6.B.2c), Brake pipe excessively corroded (3.6.B.2c), Nearside Inner Rear Brake pipe excessively corroded (3.6.B.2c). That looks like a list of doom, but 2010’s MOT fail was far worse! Take a deep breath; Offside Front position lamp(s) not working (1.1.A.3b), Nearside Front position lamp(s) not working (1.1.A.3b), Nearside Rear position lamp(s) not working (1.1.A.3b), Offside Rear position lamp(s) not working (1.1.A.3b), Nearside Registration plate lamp not working (1.1.C.1d), Offside Registration plate lamp not working (1.1.C.1d), Offside Inner Rear Seat belt anchorage prescribed area is excessively corroded (5.2.6), Nearside Front suspension has excessive play in a lower suspension ball joint (2.5.B.1a), Offside Front suspension has excessive play in a lower suspension ball joint (2.5.B.1a), Offside Front Suspension component mounting prescribed area is inadequately repaired (2.4.A.3), Nearside Front Suspension component mounting prescribed area is excessively corroded (2.4.A.3). There aren’t enough pixels on the internet to list all the previous advisories.

Anyway, this time, a pass and not a single advisory either! A big thanks to Mike and his team for their thorough restoration work, I’m sure future trips to the MOT station won’t feel like root canal surgery any more.

Yes, the wings are still black; Next stop; paint shop!

Part 11 – False jeopardy!

There are so many TV shows where cars have to be finished by a certain date. It’s all twaddle, of course, Producers just think it adds an element of excitement when all we really want to see if the car finished properly. No such false jeopardy here, my car needs to be finished now as it is due an appearance on the big screen very shortly, where we’ll pretend it was finished ages ago and we can focus on the qualify of the work done, before bench-marking this car (the UK’s oldest ‘5?) against the very latest model from Mazda. Stand by for a big update early next week from the paintshop!

Part 10 – Suspension refurbishment, fish finger sandwiches and a spat with Chris Harris.

We’ll start with the spat, shall we? MX-5 fans may recall Chris Harris once calling the MX-5 ‘crap’. It erupted on Pistonheads and I, along with a few others, questioned Monkey’s sanity. Some questioned his impartiality, too. I recall furiously two-finger typing that he had been spoiled by one too many press-fleet supercars and had forgotten about the joys of low-cost sportscars. An exchange of opinions online was polite but a bit prickly. He mentioned this in his write-up on leaving PistonHeads. I suppose I really ought to try and keep this, the tenth update on my MX-5 restoration, on topic. It’s supposed to be about suspension refurbishment. Here are some before and after shots of my arms, now shot-blasted and powder coated. Ferrous Oxide fans, click to enlarge.

mx-5 suspension powder coating refurbishment (1) mx-5 suspension powder coating refurbishment (2)

My gripe with Harris’ review was that he had stepped straight out of a Ferrari and into an MX-5. It’s like enjoying a dish of finest caviar and then turning your nose up at a fish finger sandwich. Some of us can only afford Iceland’s fish-flavoured, finger-shaped, bread crumbed economy nosh*, and to be told it’s crap from someone over-accustomed to beluga is a bit rich, I thought. Anyway, here is (most of) my suspension, laid out with all new purple poly bushes from SuperPro all round. You’ll see the new wings are on too, not a bad fit, but still needing paint. I suspect we’ll end up respraying the whole car, still, we’ve got ages to finish it – 11 whole days!

And here it all is, bolted together. Great to see the underside of the car looking so good after 25 years of neglect.

The chaps at Thrussington garage (the MX-5 specialists doing the job) have also replaced the upper suspension arm ball joints. Normally you’d have to replace the whole arm but they have a Moog part from the US they can fit, see the last two pics above. This saves a lot of bother. And cost. MX-5s are the perfect budget sportscar, aren’t they? I mentioned this to Monkey when we met by chance at this charity gig at Goodwood last year. I was in a Morgan, him a press-fleet Porsche 911. He politely countered that a Mk3 MR2 is better budget sportscar to drive, and I agree, but a good MK3 MR2 costs two or three times an MX-5. The thing is (and I hope he doesn’t read this), I’ve now probably spent the price of an MR2 on restoring my MX-5 – and I’ve still no engine in the ruddy thing. We all got sloshed on G&T and I have to say that Harris was a complete gentleman, although his patience with internet idiots like us was tested in the morning when noticing someone** had rather childishly modified his pit sign.

chris harris on the mx5

*May contains traces of Kerry Katona.

**Big boys did it and ran away.

Part 9 –Welding ruins your PWR

The car is now totally in bits and all the rot has been cut out, cleaned up, templates made, steel fabricated and a man in a mask is about to start welding. There is such a skill in doing this properly. The steel repair plates have to match the curved bodywork perfectly and some are A4 sized (paper, not Audi). You’re playing with electricity, gas, heat, metal and a lovely old car that is slowly taking shape again. This is why I am not allowed to help.

With the welding complete the joins are cleaned up and the whole thing is carefully but liberally coated with underseal. Some before and after pics are below. We’re ready for the suspension to go back in next. Watching this work I am struck by how much proper steel my MX-5 now has. It must have ruined my Power to Weight Ratio.


Part 8 – Wheels and a song about bicycle import duty.
To the tune of “Daisy Daisy”*
Daisies, Daisies, give me your answer, do,
I’m half crazy all for the love of Eu(nos wheels).
Toyos are stylish marriage,
On my once rusty carriage,
Fourteens look sweet, refurbished neat
On a Mk1 in silver hue.
*Harry Dacre’s original song was inspired by the high cost of importing a bicycle from England to the US, here’s the original, recorded on wax cylinder in 1894, around the last time my 14″ daisywheel rims last saw a sponge, I think. Here are 3/4 of ’em, back from refurbishment and looking lovely. That ruddy song is stuck in my head now!
14 inch mx5 daisywheel alloy wheels refurbished
Part 7 – Broken boot lids and wimmin’s detritus.
This is one of the smaller repairs needed on my MX-5. The boot lid flops shut. The long spring bar had become detached from the brackets and despite (because of?) me trying to whack it all back into shape with a hammer it still doesn’t work. We all know the MX-5 is a robust bit of kit, so how did this happen? My sister was short of transport a while ago and I loaned her my car. Filling the boot full of the many tons of detritus women cart around with them had somehow broken the boot spring. I can forgive her, of course, because she’s my little sister and once owned an MGF which broke down before she had time to break it herself. Mike replaced the broken parts, tutted at me, and now it’s fixed. Here’s a pic (of the boot, not my sister, y’weirdo), is that seaweed she’s left in the spare wheel?!

Part 6 – Bum stats and a seat refurbishment.

They didn’t look too bad. The seam of my driver’s seat has split and the foam on the side bolster was a bit mushy but it (like the rest of my car), needed a refurb. The nice chap doing it, co-incidentally, is the owner of a beautiful modified Imp I featured a while ago. He removed the retaining rings and rebuilt the foam inside, a job that looks simple but is clearly an art. As I watched, hands in pockets as usual, I got thinking about how much use these seats have had since 1989.

Here are the stats; My little Roadster has done c.125k miles and with the average UK car journey being 7 miles, this seat has had c.18000 bums on it*. If that’s a mildly unpleasant stat, consider this; Nearly half of UK drivers claim to have had sex in the car. Mine has had 8 owners so, statistically, 4 people have done the ramshack here somehow. I can’t speak for the previous 3, but I find that it’s much easier with the roof down. We’d better do the carpets next.


*Or 36000 cheeks.

Part 5 – Remembering Haynes’ manuals and the tip of the rustberg.

Do you remember Haynes manuals? You’d read it on the shelf in the garage, memorising repair instructions from well-thumbed pages nobody ever bought. The grubby thumbprints on the most-read pages acted as bookmarks for common problems, like replacing rusty MX-5 wings, for example. Then they started shrink-wrapping the manuals and everything went online and you end up relying on complete stranger’s blogs for advice. Like this one. The difference, though, is that I’m not hiding how hard it actually is. Here’s a little gallery of progress this week;

Replacing rusty MX-5 wings is supposed to be easy (they’re bolt on items) but as all MX-5 owners know the bottom of the wing is bolted to a muck-trap and will be rusted to buggery. In the Haynes manual it would be a ‘one spanner’ repair, indicating that it’s a doddle. In reality, this job, done properly, is more than a ‘one spanner’. Why? Because the manual doesn’t account for the previous owner’s bodges (in this case, bathroom sealant inside the wings), missing bits that have rusted away, or having to attack rounded off 25 year old bolts with the wrong tools. While screaming.

This is why I’m having a grown-up fix my car. Mike removed the wings and front bumper and had a preliminary grind at the tip of the rustberg (above). Tons of crud came off in readiness for the inner wing, tow point and sill welding repairs planned. Is it worth the time and money? Yes, it has to be. Good, rust-free UK cars are scarce and I think it’ll be worth the effort, assuming there’s something left underneath the rust to weld new steel to.

The new wings are here (pics above, silver ones are the originals), nicely packaged but marked ‘MAZDA MIAT’, a syllable short of what I expected but otherwise all there. Thanks Tong Yang of Taiwan. The original front bumper (plastic) and bonnet (aluminium) are fine. The engine bay has been steam-cleaned in readiness for all it’s guts going back in. Also, all my suspension is now back from shot-blasting and powder-coating once my rust is fixed. How many spanners is fitting suspension properly, according to Haynes? I reckon it’s a whole Snap-On tool storage system full. Thanks for reading, more updates soon.

Part 4 – Putting a positive spin on MX-5 rust.

It is very difficult, as I sit here silently sobbing at the amount of rust on my MK1, to be positive. For all the lovely mechanical bits I now have on order it is rust that will eventually kill cars like the MX-5. In fact, as those who watched our ‘history of the MX-5‘ film will have learned – Eunos is the Japanese word for Ferrous Oxide. I have a lot of it that needs dealing with. See below for a gruesome gallery;

Both front wings are beyond repair. The nearside has a hole where it meets the bonnet and bumper at the front and the offside is all frilly and ‘orrible at the bottom. Let’s be positive; New ones are on order. The inner wings on the front both have multiple holes but, being positive, it’s an easy weld and won’t need a fantastic finish. The sills have the odd blemish and ugly patch from previous repairs but are solid and sound and just need cleaning up. I am NOT crying, OK? It’s just a bit dusty in here. I’m trying to be positive. It’ll all be fixed shortly, won’t it? Tell me it will.

Part 3 – Dropping it’s ugly guts, and bangernomics explained (and regretted).

There are many reasons why working on cars at home can be a faff. My lock-up lacks power and even though I’ve got a set of axle stands, MX-5 sills are notoriously flimsy and if I attempt to lift it there’s probably not enough good metal to prevent it impaling itself on my jack. At Thrussington garage it’s up on a proper lift and, in a fraction of the time it would take me, the suspension is off and the engine and transmission is on the floor. My car has dropped it’s ugly guts. Just how bad is this 25 year old MX-5? Here’s an little gallery of my crustiest suspension and subframe bits.

It’s all original. I suspect if you pick at the ingrained muck you will find fossils of things run over in neolithic times. Mike is having all of this crust shotblasted and powder coated, or replaced. Thrussington are a stockist for Super-Pro bushes (more on that later), all my rubber has mostly disintegrated and eagle eyed readers will spot why one spring was clonking a bit. Ugly, innit? Here’s the engine and transmission out;

The engine, despite being a very early short-nosed crank example, with 125k on the clock, is pretty good. Apart from the odd brief HLA tick after long periods of inactivity in winter it has always run beautifully. Which is a surprise because this car has (until now) been run on the bangernomics principle. This means that there’s no preventative maintenance and repairs are only done if they are needed for an MOT and cost less than 10% of the value of the car. I make no excuses for this; I have run this car on a shoestring for a decade and 10k miles of ownership. It has never had an oilchange in that time. This might have you shouting at your screen, but that’s how bangernomics works. An oilchange at a garage would have cost me, perhaps, £50 . That means I’ve saved £500 on oil in this time. OK, bangernomics only works when you don’t care about the car, or expect it to be scrapped at it’s next MOT, but now I’ve committed to restoring my car it deserves (and will get) all the oily goodness it needs. I am so, so sorry, for being such a cheapskate.

mk1 mx5 engine and gearbox removal (5)

Looks good up there, doesn’t it? Mike has just ordered a very long list of replacement suspension bits and sent subframes and arms off to be blasted and powder coated. He also asked me why the oil looks like Marmite. Better add that to a very long ‘to do’ list, and we’ve not even looked at the rust yet…

Part 2 – Confucius and trailers.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, said Confucius. It’s finally time, after many years, to get started with my restoration and the first step is to get it to Thrussington garage. I scrounge a van with a trailer having lied about having towed before to the owner. Time to collect the MX-5 which isn’t roadworthy thanks to binding brakes, amongst (many) other things.

My lock-up is in a block down a narrow dead-end street. After about 15 minutes of trying to three point turn the van and trailer I give up, unhitch the trailer and push it in front of the garage. The van gets moved up the street. Curtains twitch.

I open the garage and find the MX-5 battery is dead. I then have to fetch the van, to drag the trailer up the street out of the way, then unlock the neighbouring lock-up which has my Porsche in it with some jump leads in the boot. I back it out, park boot to boot, jump start the MX-5 and leave it running, then put the Porsche away and lock it up securely. Then I move the trailer back into place, mainly by hand. I faff with the ramps, guess they’re straight then back out the MX-5, only it’s barely moving without me revving its balls off as the brakes are really binding hard and one tyre is flat. I whizz up the ramps and BANG! I had forgotten to jack up the front trolleywheel and the front of the trailer is right up in the air. No problem, I climb out, try winding the trolleywheel down to hold the front of the trailer, but it won’t reach. I have also left the trailers handbrake thing off. Minor detail.

I have to drive the MX-5 off as it isn’t straight. So I attempt to drive back down the ramp and into the garage. Space is very tight. As I do this the garage door creeps down to windscreen level, I notice in the nick of time, brake, and stop half-on, half-off the trailer with the garage door 2mm off the windscreen. I instinctively switch off the engine. I get out, tread in some dogmuck but don’t notice, then realise the MX-5 won’t start because the battery hadn’t had time to charge. ClickClickClickClick. Bollocks. I need to get the Porsche out again to use it to start the MX-5. The keys to the Porsche lock-up are on the bunch hanging in the garage door 2mm off my windscreen. I can’t reach them because the MX-5 is in the way. I’m sweating now. I take off my jumper then forget about it and stand on it on the passenger seat to reach over the windscreen to get the keys. The dogmuck I trod in but didn’t notice is now on the seats and my jumper. The MX-5 is at a jaunty angle on groaning ramps. A young man saunters up to ask if I want to buy any double glazing and gets told to **** off.

I get the Porsche out, again, and squeeze it by the trailer/MX-5 combo which just looks like it’s all going to collapse at any moment. A twelve point turn and I park as close as I can to the MX-5’s battery end, but have to drag the battery half out as I need every last mm to get the jump leads to reach. After almost forgetting about polarity and doing a lot of damage I get the MX-5 started, drop the jump leads down the side of the Porsche leaving a nice scrape, put the Porsche away, again, and drive the MX-5 off the ramps for another attempt. This time I leave the engine running, jack up the trolleywheel and apply the trailer’s brakes. I hit approximately 95MPH in reverse (the fastest this car has gone in years) and fluke it onto the right spot on the trailer. I stick the MX-5 handbrake on even though the brakes are binding so hard they stink. That’ll be the first job for the garage, when I eventually get there.

My plan was to push the trailer to the van to recouple it but it weighs a bloody ton and I get 3″ and give up. The trailer is at a right angle to the van due to the shape of the road and the selfish old bag who had parked her Corsa in the way. She’s disabled and it’s parked neatly outside her own house, but still, does she come out on her wheelchair to help push? No. It must be easier to reverse the van onto the tow hitch but I am unsighted. Backwards and forwards I never get within a yard of it. Eventually I ram the trailer, kick 9 bells out of the tow hitch, helpfully dislodging the rest of the dogmuck that was on my shoe, and get them to align. There is a latch and a button which I poke and get more dogmuck on my hands. I attach the electrical connector with the hope that that cable could probably tow the trailer if I’ve got the hitch wrong.

I pull forwards in the van and see the trailer being pulled straight, then there’s a scraping noise which I ignore for a few seconds thinking it’s just a brush with Mrs Pensioner’s Corsa, or wheelchair, then stop. I had forgotten to remove and stow the ramps. I do that. I pull off again and apart from the stench of dogmuck we’re in good shape. There’s a T junction and when I stop I notice the MX-5 roll forwards. I had forgotten to apply those ratchet strap rope things. I get out again, blocking the junction where half the village is honking their horn at me and the other half is phoning the Police. Ratchets applied I drive to the garage to get this restoration finally started. “Had far to come?” asks Thrussington garage’s Rob. A thousand miles, mate, a thousand miles.

Here’s the car on the ramps. Looks OK from this angle, doesn’t it? Well it isn’t. More on the state of play soon;

get down! you'll hurt yourself!

Part 1 – From wanging round Donington on film to rotting in a lock-up.

The MX-5 isn’t a difficult car to work on but after nearly a decades worth of bodges it’s time for some professional TLC. I want this restoration to be be done properly, by folks in the know, and back to factory standard. Despite my car having an (iffy) MOT and being almost roadworthy when my latest press-fleet blagged cabriolet went back (Caterham 160, review here if you’re interested) I knew it was time to get my own car fixed – but properly. My car is chassis number 579, considering that many lower numbers were factory mules and that rust (more on that later) has killed so many early cars, mine must be one of the oldest on the road, or in my case, rotting in a lock-up. I want it restoring to factory spec. The value of original, un-modified cars is on the up and I like the way these cars look and drive as standard anyway.

You might recognise my car. Last year I wrote and presented a film for XCAR called ‘MX-5. 25 years of the worlds favourite sports car‘ where I wanged around Donington and compared all the MX-5 models. In the rain. Because Donington. The car looks OK on the film but you can clearly see if needs some TLC. I haven’t driven it much since and it has sat rotting in my lock-up. So, that’s the back story, the car is now booked in with local MX-5 specialists Thrussington garage.

Here’s that video of the car in happier times.

About The Author

Rich Duisberg

Rich Duisberg* has had work published in Classic & Sportscar, Practical Performance Car, Modern Mini, Banzai, MogMag, Evo, GT Porsche, Complete Kit Car, Absolute Lotus, Alternative Cars, Classic Retro Modern, and elsewhere. Rich often appears on CBS’s XCAR and Carfection channels, and Motors TV, plus JayEmm on Cars, enthusing about historic motoring. His latest book (find his work on Amazon) was described by SniffPetrol as "hilarious", although he was also threatened with legal action by elderly DJ Tim Westwood. In his Midlands man cave is a 1972 Fiat 500, a Lotus Elise, a BMW barge and a vintage Royal Enfield pushbike. Previous machines of interest include an Mk1 MX5 (owned for 14 years!), an Alfa GTV6, a Porsche 968 and a Sinclair C5. The Metro (right) was bought for an experiment, and abandoned in Africa. "I am not getting in a car with him" -  said Le Mans winner, Derek Bell. *A nom-de-plume inspired by the BBC's League of Gentlemen.

17 Responses

  1. Matt

    Really sad now, just scrapped my G reg (number 565 iirc) due to a massive front end accident. Had no rot or welding, picked it up for £510 in 2013 and gave me 2 great years.

    • Rich Duisberg
      Rich Duisberg

      Sad to hear that, Matt. Pick one up while you can, good early cars are thin on the ground.

      • Oliver

        I am currently restoring my G reg Eunos which is also in silver stone! I have painfully gone through the same steps as yourself but over a longer period. It’s not completed yet but it is slowly going back together.

        It is good to see that your restoration is finished and it looks great. The difference with mine is that I am retro fitting the Mazda 2.5L KL V6.

      • Rich Duisberg
        Rich Duisberg

        Great idea! Good luck with that. I think the guys at Thrussington Garage offer a similar engine conversion (if you get stuck!)

  2. dave jones

    my mx has coverd more than 304000 miles short nose g reg but its getting v6 power it deserves a upgrade

  3. Anders Björklund

    I could not stop reading about your early Mx-5. Found it interesting and joyful. I month ago I bought myself a 1989 built little red roadster. Tested them when new, and the feeling ist still there! Thanks!

    • Rich Duisberg
      Rich Duisberg

      Tack sa mycket, Anders!

      1989 is a very early car! How good is the paint?

      • Anders Björklund

        Thanks Rich,
        It has the original paint, onlwith only some smaller dents and stone chips. Absolutely no rust and still very good looking. Has not reached 100.000 km yet. Seems to be a keeper in my collection… Take care!

  4. Daniel

    Lovely car, and a lovely write-up.

    An absolute joy to read.

    It’s great to see an original, still looking original and on the road.

    Rich, I have e-mailed you regarding this car.

    All the best.

  5. alex

    I own the sister car G633BWK which is Crystal White! I’ll have to check my chassis number to see how close they are!

    Owned it for 16 years! its off the road the the moment but will be back on shortly!

    thanks for the interesting read!

  6. Chris Wells

    Great to see.

    I had one back in 1989, not sure if right but the dealer told me mine was in the first ship to come to Australia, I owned it for 9 years until a baby came along. I sat in a new one at the dealer and it felt pretty squashy, so either in the last 20 years I have put on weight of the new one is a lot smaller inside than the old one.

    Any thoughts on the old one compared to the new one? This article says they are very similar and the new one is not worth 10 times the price, however I expect there is not that big a difference once the cost of the restoration is taken into account. I have noticed in Australia a fair few really good early ones still for sale or for a bit over double you can get an early ND as many people sell at 3 years probably due to warranty running out.

    • Rich Duisberg
      Rich Duisberg

      Thanks. I’m not a fan of the ND, particularly – the weird bump on the driver’s side footwell under the calf is annoying, the infotainment screen is too big and as sensible as it all is – a tenth of the price gets you just as much fun with an NA. PS – Do you get the Fiat 124 in Oz? Discontinued in the UK now, but the engine is way nicer than the Mazda one.

  7. Helen Stockbridge

    i had an mx5 gleneagles? sadly no longer viable – but i still have the complete set of fitted bags and car cover that came with it – would anyone find use for them?

  8. Some spam

    Stunning article and excellent vehicle.
    A tremendous pleasure to read.
    It’s amazing to see a genuine item that’s still in pristine condition and functioning.

    Best wishes.


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