In October of 2009, my husband and I decided we needed an 'economic and
practical' daily driver for our long commutes. Living out in the middle
of nowhere and working on the border of desolation tends to rack up
the mileage on a vehicle - so of course a Miata was a perfect choice to
suit our needs. After searching, we eventually found 'Mia', a 1995
M-edition, in a Colorado garage. I ended up sending the husband with a
one-way ticket and a mission to find his way home...
Fast-forward to March 2011. At this point in time my husband and I had wrapped up restoration on Mia and were differing in our opinion on which direction to proceed. I had also noticed a pretty strong bond between my husband and the car so I figured it was about time to find my own 'fun' car...and so began the search.
At first I didn't limit myself to another Miata, but nothing else felt quite right. Eventually I came back to the Miata, but in doing so I recognized my tendency to tinker. No problem there - I would simply lease a vehicle...everyone know you can't tinker with a lease, right?
Unfortunately/fortunately I have never been a patient person. So when it came time to wait for the dealership to actually find the car I wanted, I decided to just use the interim to 'look around' and 'see what else was out there'. That is when I found Mica, a 2004 Velocity Red Mazdaspeed.
I had heard rumor of there existing a turbocharged Miata and since I was in the mood, I decided to try my hand at finding one. Granted, I have a soft spot for turbos (I currently own another turbo-charged car) but when the online searches yielded the MSM Miata - I knew I was a goner. Of course the very first search brought me to eBay and there she was.
Yep, I bought my car off the internet - and through eBay, no less. Mica was currently located in Texas, from a dealership with a ultimate seller status. The pictures were gorgeous - a flawless car with 60K miles - and the price was great. What could possibly go wrong?
So I called the dealership and 'worked out a deal' to have the auction pulled for a set price. In doing so, I put down a deposit and was told that the car would be mine once all documentation was signed and worked out. They provided additional pictures, answered all questions, and were very helpful through the initial process.
Then the nightmare began. First, trying to get in touch with someone after the deposit was made was virtually impossible. This becomes a problem when your lending institution can't reach anyone to know where to direct your funding. Then we discovered the 'two-faces' of the eBay seller. Apparently the dealership we chose had an excellent standing on eBay, only because they essentially made it that way. By pulling the auctions early, they could essentially manipulate sales offline that wouldn't hurt their online reputation. This wouldn't actually be that bad a deal, except for one small problem - the BBB actually scored them as an 'F' rating. They had numerous open complaints against them and other issues.
In addition, while 'processing' the paperwork they had pulled Mica to the back to await shipping. When we tried to use a different shipper than theirs, the dealership tacked on additional time to the order. We eventually backed down and used their shipper at the cost of an extra $700. By the time everything was squared away, we had spent one month trying to get the car purchased and put on a truck to have it shipped to our area. It would take another two weeks (the truck broke down) before we would see Mica.
I write this story simply to help other be aware of what they may be getting into these days with the temptation of online car purchasing. In my case everything worked out, but others have not been so fortunate. Do as much research into online sellers as possible prior to purchase.
In this case Mica showed up covered in road grime and, once clean, turned out to be an excellent deal. All stock, no issues, and in excellent shape - she ended up being well worth the purchase price even with the inflated shipping. However, we were lucky - if there would have been issues it turns out we would have had little recourse to recover our purchase. Essentially we could have been stuck with a lemon.
Since then, Mica has become the 'favorite'. She is now sitting at 64K miles and has gone from stock to Big Enchilada to FMII kit. I upgraded the suspension, added a hard top, redid the interior and upholstery, and performed a full bosectomy. Mica even has a new rear end and paint job - thanks to an altercation with a Geo Tracker while leaving a car show (Geo Tracker won that one - but that is a story for another day). All in all, it took a lot to get Mica to where she is now - but it has been worth it.
track photos by Ben Padolsky