It’s pretty much common knowledge among car enthusiasts that if you really get a kick out of driving, it doesn’t get much better than wheeling a Mazda Miata down a road that on a map resembles dropped spaghetti. In fact, when you factor in its great reliability as well as its low acquisition and running costs, Mazda’s sporty roadster is a strong candidate for “Bang for the Buck” champion of all time.

But even after you’ve decided you want to join Miata Nation, you’ve still got a tough choice to make. The model has been on the market for almost thirty years now, and for less than ten grand, you can pick up great examples from any of its first three generations (which Mazda engineers have dubbed, respectively, “NA,” “NB,” and “NC”).

With pristine early examples, rare MazdaSpeed specimens, and even late-model retractable hardtops all within relatively easy reach, the hardest part of buying a used MX-5 may be figuring out exactly which one to pursue.

Not to worry. Below we’ve identified the pros and cons of each to make it easy to find the Miata that’s perfect just for you.

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At Klipnik, we read lots of used car listings, and it’s not because they are so beautifully crafted. Usually the opposite is true. Most are hastily thrown together and lack key details.

Not only is this frustrating for buyers, who may drive halfway across town to discover that “needs a little TLC” means there’s a goat living in the backseat. For sellers, it’s worse because a lackluster ad can easily diminish the sale price of the vehicle.

Fortunately, it’s not too hard to put a decent listing together. Just make sure to avoid these common offenses, which can tank your sale.

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Long a favorite of driving enthusiasts, BMW’s 3 Series has nonetheless gotten bigger, heavier and less engaging with each successive generation. Nowadays, even a car buff could easily mistake a newer 3 Series sedan for a 5 Series. Make no mistake, the 3er’s performance is still impressive, but for many who relish time behind the wheel, the less quantifiable “fun to drive” factor has dropped off.

Indeed, many enthusiasts feel that the E46 generation marks the last time the 3 Series was truly engaging and true to its roots — a spry athlete of a car that offered not only quick reflexes but communication through the steering wheel and seat of one’s pants that let you know in no uncertain terms what the tires were doing.

And with cars from this generation now at least ten years old, depreciation has already taken its toll, making good examples as cheap to acquire as they’re ever going to be.

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The ever-increasing mania and resulting skyrocketing values of air-cooled Porsche 911s have put those cars way out of reach for most buyers. Meanwhile, prices for the 996 generation, the first 911 with a water-cooled engine, have languished, in part because the prevailing wisdom among Porsche collectors is that the sun rises and sets only on the air-cooled cars.

Values are depressed, too, because of a known design flaw in the standard 996 engine that can, if not attended to, lead to a catastrophic failure, costing tens of thousands to repair. While this understandably gives most buyers pause, the truth is that a preemptive fix is readily available — and, even better, that many 996 examples on the market today have already had it applied.

This is all great news for the more practical enthusiast who wants to get in on the all-around goodness of Porsche’s iconic and entertaining sports car but without breaking the bank.

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