NB Miata Buyer's Guide (1999-2005)

NB Miata Buyer's Guide (1999-2005)

1999-2005 NB Miata Buyer's Guide

A little background...

      Even though the first generation NA Miata ceased production for the 1997 model year, Mazda officially debuted the second generation NB for the 1999 model year, which is why there was no 1998 model. Rather than developing an entirely new chassis for the NB, it was more of an evolution of the NA, with many of the chassis dimensions, bolt locations, etc staying the same. This makes for really great interchangeability of the parts from these two generation Miatas. That's not to say that Mazda didn't greatly improve upon the Miata formula though. With the 1999 model year came a completely restyled exterior (losing the pop-up headlights), restyled interior with better materials, a bump in horsepower up to 140hp, glass rear window on the convertible soft top, increased chassis stiffness, and many other upgrades. Of great importance were keeping most of the signature Miata traits that made the first generation NA Miata special, it's independent double wishbone suspension and 50/50 weight distribution to name a few. 

Here are the specs for the 1999 model year ( U.S. Specs):

DOHC 1.8 liter inline 4 cylinder engine:

140hp / 119 lb ft of torque

9.5:1 compression ratio

7000 rpm redline

VICS (Variable Intake Control System) intake manifold

5 speed manual transmission with 4.3 final drive differential ratio

4 speed automatic transmission with 4.1 final drive differential ratio

6 speed manual transmission with 3.9 final drive differential ratio (10th Anniversary model exclusive)

Rack and Pinion steering

Sport-tuned exhaust

Option packages available for the 1999 model year:

Touring Package: includes power steering, 14" alloy wheels (steel wheels standard), power windows, power mirrors, and a Nardi three spoke leather wrapped steering wheel ( 4 spoke standard). 

Popular Equipment Package: Includes the aforementioned items from the Touring Package and adds Torsen limited slip differential (manual transmission cars only), cruise control, power locks, windblocker and power antenna. 

Leather Package: includes the aforementioned Popular Equipment Package items plus 15" alloy wheels, tan convertible top, tan interior with tan leather seats, and the premium Bose audio system. 

Sports Package (available only on manual transmission cars): Torsen limited slip differential, front strut tower brace, sport suspension with Bilstein shocks, 15" wheels, front lip spoiler, rear trunk spoiler, Nardi three spoke steering wheel. 

Appearance Package 1: Front lip spoiler, side skirts, and rear mud flaps.

Appearance Package 2: Above Appearance Package items plus fog lights and trunk mounted spoiler. 

Individual options available were: automatic transmission, air conditioning, ABS brakes, power steering, removable hardtop, fog lights, front and rear mud flaps. 

2000 Model Year:

      For the 2000 model year, Mazda simplified the options structure by introducing a very well equipped "LS" model alongside the standard base Miata, and made some previously optional features standard on the base model. Now standard were the 14" alloy wheels, three spoke Nardi steering wheel, power antenna, power mirrors, power windows and power steering. 

Base Miata options packages:

Convenience Package: windblocker, power locks, and cruise control.

Suspension Package (manual transmission only): Bilstein shocks, front strut tower brace, Torsen LSD, and 15" alloy wheels.

Appearance Package: Front lip spoiler, side skirts, and rear mud flaps. 

Individual options available were: Automatic transmission, air conditioning, ABS brakes, removable hardtop, fog lights and cassette player. 

The LS package essentially consolidates the Popular Equipment Package and Leather Package from the 1999 model year. It includes the Torsen LSD (on manual cars), 15" alloy wheels, tan interior with tan leather seats, tan soft top, power locks, cruise control, windblocker, cassette player and Bose stereo system. Optional on the LS Miata were the Suspension and Appearance packages, along with the automatic transmission, ABS brakes, air conditioning, hardtop, mud flaps, rear spoiler and fog lights. 

2001 Model Year:

      This was the year with the most significant changes to the NB generation Miata. 2001 to 2005 is known as the NB2, while the 1999-2000 cars are referred to as the NB1. The main parts that were updated for the 2001 model year are:

Exterior: Headlights, front bumper, foglights, ground effects (front lip, side skirts and mud flaps are all available in a larger size), and tail lights. 

Interior: Seats, door panels, center console, window switch (addition of auto down function for driver's side window), radio, and instrument cluster (white gauge faces). 

Mechanical: Variable Valve Timing (VVT) was added to the 1.8 liter engine, along with a revised head, 10.0:1 compression ratio, intake, ecu and exhaust system. These changes only add up to a net horsepower increase of 2hp, to 142, but the major benefit came from low to mid range driveability. Larger "Sport" brakes were now optional, along with 16" alloy wheels. An anti-theft immobilizer system was also added in 2001. 

Most of the parts from this 2001 facelift can be retrofitted to 1999-2000 Miatas, see our complete guide on those upgrades here.

Base model option packages:

Convenience Package: Cruise control, remote keyless entry and power locks. 

Suspension Package: Bilstein shocks, Torsen LSD (manual transmission cars only), shock tower brace and 16" alloy wheels. 

Individual options available were: Automatic transmission, cassette player, removable hardtop, and air conditioning. 

The LS package includes the same upgrades over the base model as the 2000 model year, but adds the larger "Sport Brakes" and 16" wheels. Optional on the LS Miata were the Suspension package (adds Bilstein shocks, only if you also add the 6 speed manual transmission option), automatic transmission, 6 speed manual transmission, ABS, removable hardtop, air conditioning, and a cassette player.

Optional on both trim levels were:

Appearance Package 1: Large front bumper spoiler, large sideskirts, and large rear mud flaps.

Appearance Package 2: Small sideskirts, and small mud flaps. 

2002 Model Year:

No significant changes for the 2002 model year. 

2003 Model Year:

      With the 2003 model year came a couple significant changes. The most significant (in this enthusiast's mind), is the change from the Torsen limited slip differential to the Tochigi-Fuji LSD. If you're set on buying a car with a Torsen, check out our guide on those. Next most significant is that for 2003 all Miatas now came equipped with the larger Sport Brakes and 16" alloy wheels, regardless of trim package or options. 

      Moving on to the interior of the car, Mazda replaced the tan interior color, with a lighter "Parchment" tan color that was previously used in the 2000 Special Edition. In addition, this is the first year that Mazda limited certain exterior colors to certain interior colors. Certain colors were only available with a black interior, and a few of the colors were only available with the Parchment interior. 

      No major changes were made to the optional packages or individual options on the base model. The LS model now received a cloth convertible top versus the standard vinyl, and aluminum look interior trim. Also new for 2003, the LS model was now available with a black interior, including black leather seats, instead of only in tan like previous years.

2004 Model Year:

      No significant changes for the standard and LS models, aside from the optional Azure Blue Cloth Package, and the Azure Blue Leather Package. Both of these packages were only available with the Highlight Silver exterior color, but were not considered "Special Editions". 

      Other minor changes included a new, more durable material for the standard cloth seats, the addition of speakers on the windblocker, and a silver double DIN radio that matches the rest of the interior aluminum look trim. 

Of major significance, the Mazdaspeed model was added in 2004, but more on that below. 

2005 Model Year:

      No major changes. The separate key and fob gave way to a "switchblade" style folding key / fob unit. 

Minor changes to the Mazdaspeed model, described below. 

Special Editions:

      Mazda continued the trend started with the 1993 Limited Edition Miata, then later the M-Edition models, in which they offered a one year only Special Edition model, sold in limited numbers, and in unique colors for each year. Let's start with the first one:

1999 10th Anniversary Model (10AE):

      Easily recognizable by its signature Sapphire Blue Mica paint color, blue vinyl convertible top, and blue and black interior combination. Content-wise it is literally fully loaded, with everything from the Leather Package, Sports Package and Appearance Package 2. Taking it a couple steps further from those features are some additional touches that really set this Miata apart from other 1999 models:

  • Sapphire Blue Mica paint color (only available on the 10th Anniversary Model)
  • Blue carpeting and embroidered floor mats
  • Seats that feature black leather on the outside, with blue synthetic suede inserts along the middle. 
  • Two tone black and blue leather Nardi 3 spoke steering wheel
  • Two tone black and blue leather Nardi shift knob
  • Blue leather shift boot
  • Chrome trim rings and red needles on the gauge cluster
  • Carbon fiber look shifter / radio surround trim
  • Ignition key with blue plastic portion, specific to the 10AE
  • Numbered badge on the driver's side fender showing its specific car number out of the 7500 units produced.
  • 6 speed manual transmission (only available on the 10AE)
  • 3.9 ratio Torsen limited slip differential (only available on the 10AE)
  • Polished 5 spoke 15" wheels
  • Blue vinyl convertible top
  • Stainless steel door scuff plates with black surrounds

2000 Special Edition:

      This one is also instantly recognizable by its unique Mahogany Mica (burgundy) exterior with Parchment colored interior. Content-wise it is equipped like a 2000 LS trim Miata with the Appearance Package. Notably absent from the features list are the sport suspension and shock tower brace that came on the 10th Anniversary Model. Here are the other features that set this 2000 Special Edition apart from the crowd:

  • Mahogany Mica paint color (only available on the 2000 Special Edition)
  • Parchment (light tan) colored interior (leather seats, carpet, door panels, lower dash, console, interior plastics.
  • Nardi 3 spoke steering wheel, finished in dark wood
  • Nardi wooden "teardrop" shift knob
  • Parking brake handle finished in the same dark wood
  • Faux wood shifter and radio surround plastic trim
  • White gauge faces with chrome trim rings
  • Chrome inner door handles
  • Unique key with beige plastic portion
  • 6 speed manual transmission (only available on the 2000 SE)
  • 3.9 ratio Torsen limited slip differential (only available on the 2000 SE)
  • Polished 5 spoke 15" wheels (same as the 10AE ones)
  • Parchment vinyl convertible top
  • Special Edition fender badges
  • Stainless steel door scuff plates with parchment surrounds

2001 Special Edition:

      Reminiscent of the 1991 British Racing Green "unofficial special edition" NA Miata, the 2001 Special Edition marks the Miata's second use of this legendary color. For this third iteration of the NB Special Edition line, Mazda opted to use the regular tan interior color, rather than a unique color, but lets be honest here, it's also the best match to the BRG exterior color. Feature-wise it is similarly equipped to a 2001 LS model with the six speed manual transmission option. Here are the features that let it stand out:

  • British Racing Green paint color (only offered on the 2001 Special Edition)
  • Nardi 3 spoke steering wheel, finished in light wood
  • Nardi wooden "teardrop" shift knob, also in light wood
  • Parking brake handle finished in the same light wood color
  • Tan leather shift boot
  • Faux wood shifter and radio surround plastic trim
  • Special Edition embroidered floor mats
  • Stainless steel door scuff plates with tan surrounds
  • 6 speed manual transmission with 3.9 Torsen LSD differential (also available on LS Miatas)
  • Polished 5 spoke 16"  "twist spoke" wheels
  • Unique cloth-look vinyl convertible top, in tan
  • Special Edition fender badges

2002 Special Edition:

      This was a great year for Miata enthusiasts because Mazda offered the Special Edition in not one, but two color combinations! They were both similarly equipped in terms of features, with packages mirroring that of an LS trim level with the optional six speed automatic transmission. The Blazing Yellow version came equipped with an all black interior with black leather seats, and a 3 spoke black leather Nardi steering wheel with perforated inserts. The Titanium Gray version came equipped with saddle brown leather seats, two tone saddle and black 3 spoke Nardi steering wheel and saddle brown door panel inserts. Here are the items both color versions shared:

  • 16" Enkei alloy wheels, with a distinctive design specific to the 2002 Special Editions
  • Nardi black leather shift knob
  • Aluminum look interior accents in the shifter surround, radio surround, parking brake button, interior door handles and AC vent rings
  • Aluminum pedals
  • Chrome fuel lid
  • Aluminum door scuff plates with black surrounds
  • Special Edition fender badges
  • 6 speed manual transmission with 3.9 Torsen LSD differential (also available on LS Miatas)
  • Special Edition embroidered floor mats

2003 Special Edition and Shinsen Version:

      Mazda took a different approach in 2003, offering a fully loaded Special Edition as usual, but also adding a lower cost Shinsen Version that had less features. 

Lets start with the Special Edition, which was equipped similarly to an LS model with the optional six speed manual transmission:

  • Strato Blue Mica (deep blue, almost purple) paint color. Unique to this 2003 Special Edition
  • Gray leather seats
  • Gray door panel inserts
  • Two tone gray and black leather Nardi shift knob
  • Aluminum pedals (only on manual transmission cars)
  • Chrome fuel filler door
  • Gray cloth convertible top
  • 16" 5 spoke wheels, unique to this model
  • Special Edition fender badging
  • Special Edition floor mats
  • Aluminum look interior accents in the shifter surround, radio surround, interior door handles and AC vent rings
  • Aluminum door scuff plates with black surrounds
  • 6 speed manual transmission with 3.9 Tochigi Fuji LSD differential (also available on LS Miatas)

Shinsen Version:

  • Equipped similarly to a 2003 Miata with the Convenience Package
  • Titanium Gray Metallic exterior paint color (carried over from the 2002 Special Edition)
  • Blue cloth convertible top
  • Blue cloth seats
  • Blue door panel inserts
  • Aluminum look shifter surround, radio surround, interior door handles and trim rings
  • Shinsen Version embroidered floor mats
  • Shinsen Version fender badges
  • Two tone blue and black shift knob
  • 16" wheels, same as LS trim wheels
  • 4.3 ratio Tochigi limited slip differential, same as 5 speed manual LS models

2004 and 2005 Mazdaspeed Miata (MSM):

      These are considered a sub-model more than a Special Edition. It was the last hurrah for the NB generation Miata, and a very nice one at that! The Mazdaspeed had a significant amount of changes compared to a run of the mill Miata:

  • Turbocharged and intercooled engine, making 178hp and 166 lb ft of torque. Instead of using the VVT engine offered in the 2001-2005 Miatas, it used a modified version of the 1999-2000 BP4W engine.
  • 6 speed manual transmission with shot-peened gears for added strength over the regular 6 speed manual. 
  • An actual Torsen differential (only model available with a Torsen after 2002), this time with a 4.1 gear ratio and larger diameter axles
  • Mazdaspeed specific Bilstein shocks (silver), and Mazdaspeed specific springs
  • Upgraded sway bars
  • Revised radiator, fans, steering rack, shock tower bar, clutch, exhaust
  • 17x7" Racing Hart alloy wheels
  • Mazdaspeed specific front lip spoiler, rear lip spoiler and trunk spoiler
  • Smoked headlights
  • Two available colors: Velocity Red Mica (MSM specific), and Titanium Gray Metallic (carried over from the 2002 SE and 2003 Shinsen)
  • Paint matched interior rearview mirror
  • Choice of black leather seats with red stitching throughout the interior, or black and red cloth seats with red door panel inserts.
  • Mazdaspeed specific gauge cluster with silver faces.
  • Mazdaspeed door sill plates, floor mats and pedals

For 2005 the Mazdaspeed Model received a few minor changes:

  • Lava Orange Mica, and Black Mica were added to the color lineup
  • Wheels were updated to a different style, but same 17x7" size
  • Like all other 2005 Miatas, the key was updated to the newer "switchblade" style which integrated the key and the fob in one unit.
  • Cloth interior now had all black seats, instead of the black and red of 2004

What to look for when buying an NB Miata:

     The second generation Miata is widely regarded as a very reliable car, but as with any used car there are some specific areas to look at in order to prevent some headaches down the road. To show these areas more clearly, we've created this video to show what to look at closely, what can be deal breakers, and what can something that is common and/or easily remedied. Some of the major subjects highlighted include looking for hidden rust or accident damage, the infamous "pulley wobble", the convertible top, and other common NB Miata issues. 

Our recommendation:

We can't suggest one specific year or model as a blanket recommendation because it all boils down to budget and personal preference. Prices could range from $1500 for a rough example to $10000 for a nice Mazdaspeed, so there's a huge range there. What we do suggest is finding one that looks like its been taken care of by its previous owner(s). We'd rather buy a nicely maintained car that has a bad transmission or ripped convertible top, than a poorly maintained car that needs works in all areas. Why? Because those abundant, but seemingly small issues are going to add up to a whole lot more time and money to fix in the long run. At the end of the day we want you to be out there enjoying your new-to-you Miata to the fullest!

We thank you for taking the time to read our Buyer's Guide, and hope you found this information useful in your car search. If you found this guide helpful, feel free to share, and check back with if you need any quality used parts, for every generation Miata.

For a comprehensive list if every color available for every year, check out this guide on

Jul 30th 2019 Esteban R

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