Out with the Old: Putting My Much-Loved 1990 MX-5 up for Auction
Acquaintances, friends, and family familiar with my brand of car enthusiasm are not at all surprised that I replaced my 1990 Mazda MX-5 with—you guessed it—a new MX-5. Brand new, in fact.
As bittersweet as saying goodbye to the ’90 NA will be, the ’21 ND2 is superb, and it’s still, at its core, very much the Miata I’ve loved driving since I bought the old roadster almost six years ago (only much, much faster and somewhat more refined. And red!).
I’ll have plenty to experience with the new MX-5. But first, I have to sell the old one. For this, I’ve decided to put the 90 NA up for auction at Cars and Bids. The auction itself has just gone live as I write this (I will update this article after I sell the car, whose auction closes on 12.03.2021); in the meantime, I thought I’d share about my experience thus far with listing a car on such a site. If you’re considering listing a car on an auction site, perhaps, like I did just recently, you’re wondering where to start, and whether selling a car this way is a good idea. Why did I choose this method for selling the NA? How did I decide on which site to list the Miata? What’s the experience been like?
Why I chose to list the Miata on an auction site
Among enthusiasts who recognize a well-sorted older sports car, the 1990 Miata gets plenty of attention. Over the years, people have asked me if the roadster was for sale, tuners and mechanics have recommended never getting rid of it, and one passerby left a note offering to buy the car if and when I’d be looking to sell. In other words, I can easily sell the Miata the old-fashioned way, either by listing on the classifieds (Craigslist) or by taping a For Sale sign to the windshield.
Thing is, with all the phone calls, emails, test-drives, haggling, and paperwork, selling a car on one’s own can prove time-consuming, and I don’t have much time (or patience) to spare these days. If someone had given me a serious, compelling offer on the NA three weeks ago, then sure, I might have gone ahead and sold it directly, but that didn’t happen.
Trading in the old Miata for the new one was technically an option, but I didn’t even bother mentioning that to the dealers with whom I was corresponding. Since trade-in estimates typically derive from such metrics as Kelly Blue Book values (which don’t truly account for modifications and aren’t suited for older cars that dealers would likely flip to auction houses anyway), I wouldn’t have gotten more than a pittance for my beloved roadster. Same goes for cash offers from used car retailers (Carmax, Shift, and the like).
On the open market, though, NA MX-5s in good condition are finally selling for decent money (though they’re still a tremendously good value). And on auction sites, Miatas are routinely selling for over $8,000, which, for cars that would likely have gone for half their selling prices a year ago, is pretty great. I honestly have no idea how much my MX-5 will sell for, as the paint-chipping issue I wrote about awhile ago is extreme and might draw down the perceived value of a car in otherwise excellent condition; but I’m confident the price I get at auction will match or exceed what I can get for the Miata through a private sale.
Why I chose to list on Cars and Bids
Once I decided on selling the Miata via auction, I considered several options among a growing list of sites that facilitate such auto sales. I don’t think I could have gone wrong with any of them, honestly, but after months of tracking listings on Bring A Trailer, Rad for Sale, and eBay, Cars and Bids compelled me the most. With a rapidly-growing community; consistent, well-curated, and well-laid-out listings; and selling prices that seem fair and high-value for all parties involved, Cars and Bids stood out to me as the right site on which to sell the roadster. Listings are free on the site (buyers pay a fee), and Cars and Bids does an excellent job of posting links to auctions on social media. We’ll see what I end up getting for the Miata, but whatever the final price, I’m confident I’ve chosen wisely.
What the experience has been like (thus far)
So far, the experience has exceeded my expectations. The process--from submitting photos and information in order to get the Miata approved for listing to submitting and uploading photos and videos--has proven to be simple and straightforward. The site itself is well-designed and user-friendly, and the customer service has been excellent. Case in point: just three days before the car was scheduled to go up for auction, my son got into an under 3mph bumper-kiss with another vehicle--the only such incident in the Miata’s 32-year lifespan. Thankfully, everyone was fine, and the damage consisted of scuffs on the otherwise-fine bumper (no file claimed by any party). Since at the time I didn’t know the extent of the damage, I reached out to Cars and Bids, who immediately paused the listing until I could get the bumper examined and the scuffs buffed out, then added the car back to the queue once I learned all was well with the little roadster. However an unfortunate, ill-timed occurrence, this experience could have turned out much worse with bad customer service.
Erik JP Drobey lives in San Francisco. He chronicles some of his culinary and vehicular adventures on Instagram as @zjpd.
The views and opinions expressed here are his own and may not align with the founders of Everyday Driver.