1993 Mazda MX-5 S-Special: goodbye

Have you ever accidentally sold a car? Er, I have.

Just like I accidentally bought my Mazda MX-5, it has now gone to a new owner. That new owner is Bill. Bill is my neighbour and he has had his eye on ‘JOE’ since I bought it in January.

I had been considering selling the MX-5. I get bored easily (ahem, E34, Puma…), and I’d decided there was little point splashing out on upgrading the suspension to expensive coilovers and replacing the ditchfinder tyres when, chances are, something else would soon come up that took my fancy.

The plan was simple. Get it MOTed (it was due in August), give it a really good clean and then advertise it in the middle of summer for top money.

From Seicento to MX-5?

But then I bumped into Bill on the day he’d scrapped his trusty Fiat Seicento. After a good decade or so of use, it had succumbed to an issue that the local garage had deemed not worth fixing, and the scrap man had been to collect it.

“Would you like to buy an MX-5?” I joked, as you do in these situations. Bill didn’t take a great deal of persuasion to jump in the passenger seat and come out for a drive on the nice summer’s evening it was.

By the time we returned, a short test drive later, he was sold. “Can I give you some money?”

I wasn’t ready for selling the car yet. It needed MOTing, and I wasn’t planning to advertise it for a couple of months.

But Bill was insistent. Money needed to be exchanged as a sort of contract between the pair of us. He didn’t want me selling Joe to anyone else, despite my promise that that wouldn’t happen.

We agreed a rough figure, and I said I’d put it through an MOT before the deal happened. But that represented a challenge of its own…

Emissions trouble

1993 Mazda MX-5 S-Special: goodbye

I was confident the MX-5 would pass its MOT. Looking through its history, it had always sailed through. It really must have been one of the cleanest first-generation MX-5s left.

So I chucked it into the local branch of Kwik Fit, agreeing to pick it up an hour later with (hopefully) a clean sheet I could show Bill.

But it didn’t go to plan. The MX-5 failed on two things: the horn (irritating… I knew it could be temperamental but I’d tried it on the way to the test station and it had been fine); and emissions. Oh… that could be costlier to diagnose.

The second I got home with the disgraced MX-5, I did a search online and had a chat with a mate who works at a garage. It started to appear that actually, my MX-5 had been tested wrongly. You see, it’s not actually an MX-5, it’s a Eunos Japanese import. And going by the engine number, higher emission limits should be applied for a vehicle without a cat.

I returned straight to Kwik Fit with my findings. The man at the desk wasn’t satisfied and would do everything he could to prevent me speaking to the MOT tester. I gave up, went home, and researched some more. I discovered this document which said in black and white that an MX-5 with my engine code should be given more leniency.

I returned, again, by which time the MOT tester had gone home. He wouldn’t be back in until Tuesday (this was on a Saturday).

DVSA confirms (eventually): Kwik-Fit had it wrong

So I phoned the DVSA (formerly VOSA) to check. Even they took some persuasion. The first lady I spoke to would barely listen to my case, and when I pointed out the document mentioned above she trotted out the ‘I’ve been doing my job 20 odd years’ line. So I asked to speak to her manager. And he agreed with me.

A strongly worded email was sent to Kwik Fit head office was sent arguing my case. And it turned out to be a case of David and Goliath.

By Tuesday I had a phonecall from the MOT tester. He was very apologetic, and offered to re-test it in his lunch break if I could get it in. I did, and in the meantime I had bodged the horn. It passed.

I was open about the whole situation was Bill, and he was happy. The deal was done. Cash was handed over. The MX-5 is no longer mine.

So what’s going to replace it? Well, something’s lined up. I’ve not seen it yet, but the seller’s delivering it to my parents’ house tomorrow. I’ll be travelling up to Shropshire at the weekend to see it for the first time and bring it home to St Albans. Watch this space…