Friday, September 5, 2014

3k: Small Car Faceoff: '92 Mazda MX-5 V8 vs '88 Suzuki Sidekick 4x4

There are plenty of good reasons to drive a small car.  You can save gas.  Save the environment.  Save on parking.  The problem is that new small cars are either way overpriced (new MX-5 for $25k...hello? And don't get me started on the prices of a well optioned Mini Cooper S --what am I, some kind of Rockefeller?) or total rubbish (Smart Car).  So, if you really need to drive a small car you start looking for something used, until you realize that driving a 3-cyl '80s Geo is not fun or cool at all..what to do?  Oh yeah. Get out the old welder and one of these:  A 1992 Mazda MX-5 with GM 400 ci V8 offered for $3,000 or this 1988 Suzuki Sidekick 4x4 with tractor tires offered for $1,999, both via craigslist.

First thing's first -- you might question why anyone would cross shop these two cars, but I would counter that anyone with a $2k-$3k budget not considering these two cars is a fool.  In both cars you will be uncomfortable, experience lots of hardship (breakdowns), meet new people (gas station looky loos and tow truck drivers) and drive home with your groceries in your lap.  

First up is this 1992 MX-5, built by some dudes in the Detroit area.  It is the perfect car for doing donuts in a high school parking lot or terrorizing your neighbors...but with a 400ci small block mated to a slushbox and Lincoln rear end, it won't be good for much else.  

Don't like the MX-5, what about this Suzuki Sidekick that has been given the Colin Chapman treatment and saddled with ginormous 31-inch tractor style mud tires taken off a Ditch Witch.  Yes, the Ditch Witch is a real thing, not something I just made up.  It will be great for snapping half shafts while trying to do donuts in the high school parking lot and terrorizing your neighbors. 

Which one would you pick?

Send us your tips!


  1. Miata Is Always The Answer. Even in this case, despite it's a non-runner and a completely unfinished basket case of a failed project.

    1. Agreed. That's among the roughest Monster Miatas I've seen (although it would look a lot better with this hood), but I know exactly where my allegiances lie.

    2. Who can do a engine swap like this, but then "can't get it to start". If you're smart enough to fab a custom motor mount, wouldn't you be smart enough to figure out air, fuel and ignition?

      Metro powered Miata build

      The ditch witch tires likely aren't DOT approved, therefore you'll need a trailer to go to the Red Neck Yacht Club Being in Florida, I'd bet that Samurai has been in that fight, where it was undoubtedly babied.


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