Welcome to another edition of Daily, Garage, Sell, JNC‘s version of Bang, Marry, Kill. You are presented with three cars. One is going to be your daily beater no matter what the weather, distance, or cost. Another will be parked in your climate-controlled single-car garage and driven only sparingly and only for the act of driving (no errands). The last one will be sold and you will never be able to own one again. This time we’re faced with three iconic roadsters: Mazda’s genre-defining sports car, Toyota’s underrated mid-engine masterpiece, and Honda’s technological tour de force. What do you choose, and why?
Daily, Garage, Sell — Mazda Miata, Toyota MR2 Spyder, and Honda S2000.
The most entertaining comment by next Monday will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What formerly unremarkable JNC now sparks joy?”
It should come as no surprise that cars like Michael K.‘s Honda Civic or Land Ark‘s Toyota pickup were chosen. A bit more further down the obscurity spectrum was ra21benj’s 4-door Integra. Rotornutcase‘s pick of Mazda REPU was certainly unique, but we’re not sure REPUs count as ever having been unremarkable. With that in mind, the winner this week is Brad D., who makes some wild claims about a Nissan Altima:
Any of them and all of them. Any car that comes from mundane roots and has withstood the test of time despite its throwaway status when new, becomes fascinating. Like it or not, in 2055 a 2005 Altima will make you take pause.
All of that said, if I needed to pick one personally, early to mid 90s Corollas are in my active search. Dead nuts reliable, great fuel economy, available with a five-speed, some truly interesting engine swap options and the 4×100 wheel availability making options almost endless. They have endeared themselves to me and I wouldn’t mind one as a daily driver.
Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!
Seems hard at first, as they’re all quite different in character.
However, I believe to correct answer is…
Daily: Miata. Look, it captures the essence of lightweight roadster motoring with great steering+handling, good reliability and reasonable fuel economy. There remains a strong after-market and used parts supply.
Garage: S2000. We will never see its like again, from Honda or most other manufacturers short of supercars, with that 9K redline. The drive to lower emissions and better fuel economy simply precludes mass-produced engines with these characteristics. Sad, yes. It’s about lower redlining, torquey engines now. None more ready with torque than EVs, from 0rpm.
Sell: MR2. I know it has its share of fans, but I’m firmly in the AW11 camp for the MR2. Plus in my country (and I suspect everywhere else) it only came with a paddle transmission, no manual was offered. While nice, simply not special or nice enough in my opinion.
I have had the fortune to drive all three cars, some more extensively than others. Each of the cars offer their own unique driving experience. I will make the following selections: NA Miata, 2000-2004 MR-S, and AP2 S2000.
Miata – Daily Driver: I have owned my 1997 NA for over 17 years, and it’s been the most reliable vehicle in the stable. Its running costs are very low, it’s easy to drive (both in high speed as well as bumper-to-bumper), uses 87 octane, and maintenance / replacement parts are plentiful. You don’t have to wring out the engine, but you are definitely more than welcome to, and the car returns 27-29MPG no matter what. The trunk is surprisingly useful, and if you need more space, there’s some more room on the bulkhead behind my rollbar.
Since I live in New England, I would have to apply anti-corrosion protectant underneath if I’m driving it during the winter (cringe). My car is lowered, but snow days are usually WFH days, so I’m not too worried about plowing the car into snow drifts. But definitely a set of 14″ snow tires will help lots. Throw the hardtop during the colder / wetter months, and I’m set. I’ve done long distances on the car, and although it’s no land yacht, it’s still easy on the body. There’s a certain sweet spot feeling when enjoying a car without much effort needed.
MR-S – Sell: The shifting is super short, the engine growls behind you, and the car handles like it’s on rails. However, it’s extremely small inside, and I remember the interior not having much storage space, if any. I don’t remember much luggage space either. I still haven’t warmed up to the styling; the headlight styling doesn’t appeal to me. Power is 138hp, just a bit more than my NA, therefore that rawness is not going to be present on this car. Unfortunately slightly underrated, but there’s a reason for that.
S2000 – Weekender: The S2000 would not work that well as a daily putt-putt; hit VTEC and already at another traffic light. It’s definitely made for enjoying when closer to the limits. I can just imagine ripping through the mountainous roads with the top down. The 8000rpm would echo through the forests, and this cycle would repeat as I snick through the gears. Mine would be a 2005 Grand Prix White with the tan / black interior, and I’d get the 20th Anniversary front bumper to go with it. Let’s go.
CycoPablo nailed it, no need to go any further.
I second BlitzPig’s opinion.
For the MR2 Spyder I would also add the following as a reason to sell: A client of mine bought one when they were first introduced and I asked him how he liked it. He said he liked the handling a lot but that it had no storage space. He said he wanted to go on a weekend trip with his wife but they found out they could not even get two weekend bags into it. When I saw him again six months later he had already sold it..
It is indeed a great answer, but the MR2 did come with a proper manual, which changes the character of the car significantly.
daily: Miata is about as practical as a roadster can be.
garage: S2000. Take it out on nice days with no traffic, maybe even a track day. It shouldn’t be subjected to the daily grind.
sell: MR2 Spyder. I don’t wanna die.
Ok, I think I shall do this in perhaps the backwards order, but hear me out.
I would daily the MR2. Yes, it’s the oddball, but it’s a Corolla motor and will offer great fuel economy on that morning commute. It’s a perfect daily driver option.
I’d garage the Miata. It’s a blank canvas onto which I would be able to express my own artistic vision and the perfect weekend toy.
I’d sell the S2000. Yes, it’s the best car of the group, but we’re at the tail of another classic car bubble and selling this thing at peak value will fund a lot of parts for the Miata. It’s a bit ruthless, but if you’re going to sell one of these, the most sellable asset is that Honda, so I’ll unleash my inner capitalist play the market.
This is such a tough question, but here we go.
My daily would be the W30 MR2. It looks the best compared to the others when modified. (in my opinion) And on weekends I can take it on the track and have fun, while snap oversteering, of course. And it’s also mid-engine rear-wheel drive so it’s the budget supercar. It also has a lot of aftermarket support.
My garage would be the S2000. I’d want to keep it nice and clean and take it to car meets. It definitely sounds the best with it revving up to 9K RPM. This is a real gem that I wouldn’t want to break. And I believe this is the only modern RWD Honda, so it’s a nice change from all the FWD Hondas.
I might get hate mail from everyone, but my sell would be the Miata. I love the Miata, and I kinda wan’t one. It’s an amazing car, don’t get me wrong, but it’s here because what’s it competing with. The Miata looks awesome modified or stock, but to be frank, the MR2 looks a little better, and it’s mid-engine, something the Miata isn’t. The S2000 might not look as good as the Miata, but it sounds so much better. The MR2 and the S2K are better than the Miata in multiple ways, so that’s why I’d sell it.
Daily – MR2. Of the three it’s the one I wouldnt worry about chips, foggy headlights, or my daily mix of people on the phone and people driving 20mph faster than everyone else on a congested highway putting it in danger from all directions. My current commute is 12 miles of highway as straight as the Dulles airport runway it parallels so driving dynamics beyond comfort are pretty irrelevant.
Garage – S2000. It is and will remain and investment grade car. It also offers the chance to really ring it out on nice weekends on roads with actual curves.
Sell – MX-5. Assuming we’re talking about the 1st gen (I’d buy and daily a ND today if I found the right color combo/BBR RF) I don’t have the affinity for it as others do. I completely respect and understand those who do but knowing that they are starting to come on strong in the market I’d be glad to pass it along to someone who truly appreciates them
Instead of normal answers, I will royally mess this up. On purpose!
Daily – MRS
The MRS is probably the hardest to daily to any lack of proper storage space, and the fact that it’s an MR would probably make it more difficult for people not used to it. Also don’t forget snap oversteer!
Garage – Miata
NA Miata’s are still pretty ubiquitous and despite them gaining value, they were the most sold sports car in the world. There’s still lots of fish in the sea for these cars and it’ll be a while before they truly reach sky high prices.
Sell – S2000
There will NEVER be a car like the S2000 again. The S2000 is a magical car that will never be seen in the likes of this earth again. If I were to royally mess this up, i’d sell it.
Daily the MR2 because it is probably the safest.
Garage the Miata.
Sell the S2000 because let’s be real, these are great looking cars with amazing engines and shifters but poorly optimized gearing, mediocre steering, and only OK handling.
Oooh, shots fired!
This is easy for me, that is. I’d sell the Miata, drive the Honda and garage the Toyota … but, as long it is not the later model of the MR2. I just can’t like the rounded, softer bodystyle on the later MR2s. The earlier squarer body looks meaner than a junkyard Akita on steroids! I drove a supercharged one (in red, of course!) once … ONCE, sigh, ONCE! There may be more bells and whistles on the later style but, the whistlebait I like is those around 1985. Its a shape not seen today (the newer MR2 had its styling pirated by the newer MG F mid-engine jobs … which is cool for MG but …!).
So, gimme that ole’ time Toy, bro because it sings to me!
I will offer and even different opinion.
Daley the MR2, great car, Toyota reliability, some level or rarity that you don’t see every day, good mileage, fun mid motor handling, and has potential to increase in value as few of them are out there.
Grarge the Honda S2000 the value keeps going up and I do not see the market changing for a while. The car markets move with the human age generations. The muscle car market moved on to the Japanese cars and the J-tin was the only game in town for a few decades, America was building plastic garbage and nothing anyone is interested in especially today. So I feel the S2000 will continue to increase in value much longer than other collector cars have remained on the climb and it was the pinnacle Japanese car in America as we did not get the Nissan GTRs and it is not on the list..
Sell the Mazda. It is a great car but they are a dime a dozen. They are all over the place and that is because they are such a great car. But I am not a ME-Too person (as in everyone has one I need one too so I fit in). It will in the long run be the least valuable of the three due to numbers produces.
That is the way I would look at it.
I’ve dallied both the MR-S and Eunos Roadster (Miata) in the past already, so I’d daily the S2000, it’s the most upmarket car with the most creature comforts including an electrically operated roof.
Garage the MR-S, ideally swap in a 2ZZ, some mild suspension modification, and you have an absolute track day weapon. The chassis is so overrated, and no, it does not snap oversteer unless you drive like you’re wearing lead boots. You won’t find a more benign mid engined car.
Sell the Eunos – I’ve had 3 (2 NBs and an NA, I think I’ve had my fill)
Daily, Miata NA, this car starts always, the design is again great in 2022 and it’s so fun…I have a 1992 Miata stock, love driving this car the night summer.
Lot of Miatas NA but few always stock and in good shape…
Garage: Honda S2000, the sound of the VTEC…
Sell the MR2…l like Toyota but the MR2 seems to be a bad Porsche design copycat.
Ben / webmaster,
Just not sure why my response does not seem to upload. May you check your “spam” folder please?
Sorry Taylor. I’m not sure why this keeps happening to your posts but alert me like you did here any time and I’ll dig them out.
This happens to me frequently as well, to the point that I often just give up on attempting to comment. I def always copy my comment before hitting post.
Sorry Alan, we’re going to fix that.
Daily – Miata
Assuming I can get one in an automatic (autotragic amirite?) it would be great and painless to daily it.
Garage – S2K
Since they are all manual, so weekend stuff, every once in a while.
Sell – MR2
That transmission would drive me insane. Up up down down shifting, not for me.
I’ve had 6 MR2’s and 2 MX-5’s. Currently have a MKI and an NB.
But in this scenario, its a MKIII Spyder… manual!
I’d sell the S2K in a heartbeat. I don’t fit in them properly and can flip that for all sorts of MR2 parts.
On that end I would track and auto-x the MR2. Why? Because I’ve done it. There is nothing like the handling of the Spyder.
I’d daily the MX-5. Whether is the NB (my fave of the roadsters) or the ND. It would just make for a fun everyday driver. Plus they have a trunk so it can handle all the daily duties like haul groceries.