Alfa Spider, BMW Z1 And MX-5: This Is How To Enjoy A Car

Arigato Hirai-sama! Thank you, Mr. Hirai, it was worth it. Only the first NA version of the MX-5 has sold 140,918 units since its launch in 1989. The small roadster of retractable headlights, ideal for a good time behind the wheel on a twisty road became a huge success … And not only of the people who go “for a walk”.

Maybe also, because 20 years ago only encountered a rival in Europe: the Alfa Romeo Spider. The Italian then had gray hair. In 1966 he debuted as Spider Duetto and was designed by Battista Pininfarina. The name Duetto lasted just as short as it’s rounded back. In 1969, the engineers took all the curves. The model “coda tronca” happened to be called only Spider. With i latina, because the Italians did not like the y. In 1963 came the Aerodynamics, which dared with a rubber lip in his rear, which in the fourth season Spider (from 1989 to 1993) again took off.

The BMW Z1 has never had evolutions, versions or remodeling. For the bemeuvistas there can only be one. It was only on sale two summers: it was born in 1989 and died in 1991. Young like the legends. It’s a shame, because it’s a genius. It has been ahead of its time with many technical details: thermoplastic body galvanized steel monocoque chassis, sandwich-type floor with honeycomb structure and aerodynamics that besides stability provides silent trips.

But the engineer Ulrich Bez (today in Aston Martin), did not see the laws of the market: the Z1 was too expensive. In its last period it cost 8,125,000 pesetas, that is, 48,800 dollars. More than the Alfa Spider and the Mazda MX-5 put together, they were around 21,000 dollars then.

What is it that unites Alfa, BMW and Mazda from the current point of view despite the disparate prices? The fun of touring the roads outdoors. Feel the wind in your hair, smell the air in a cereal field. And at the end of the trip? Curves, curves and more curves as dessert. Why not? After all, the Spider, Z1 and MX-5 invite you to drive, enjoy with their sound, stretch the marches and even go slowly looking at the landscape and of course much more.

The valuation of the day to day: it cannot always be Sunday

The life of a car is not easy. And even a classic, even the convertibles, must prove their effectiveness in the hard day to day. On the way to the office, to the supermarket and even in the washing tunnel.

The Mazda was not born to carry the house on its back: better for two people and little luggage

The water goes through all the slots, drips and my pants get wet. Another drop. I’m in the wash tunnel with the Alpha.

But an Alfa Romeo, and even more classic, requires that you have a great heart. You must be able to forgive. A permeability you have to face with gentle hand – washed. That also avoids the streaks in the paint that come from the painful whipping of the washing tunnel. The locks that do not fit well, seats that do not regulate perfectly … Okay, okay, it’s true that it’s ridiculous to complain about these things. It is better to pull the two levers and pull back the hood. And the day to day comes to light. Finally it is Sunday, even in the middle of the week, a little time between traffic light and traffic light.

By the way, faster than the Alfa Spider does not clear any . The drivers of an MX-5 have to turn around and open a zipper around the scope. The Z1 even asks its owner to get out of the car. You have to open the chest in which the hood is hidden. That yes, this one is well protected under a cover. Perfectly, very tidy, very German. In general, the BMW is an impressive piece of engineering, with doors that are immersed electrically, a plastic body and a monocoque chassis. It sounds great and also feels that way. Nothing creaks, few things vibrate. A Z1 sits very rigidly on the road; the seats hold the driver perfectly.

On bumpy roads, cobbled streets, smooth or rough asphalt.The Japanese come out quite well. The only thing that creaks a bit.

Which we cannot say so quietly of the Alfa Spider. When you move you see your windshield frame moving sideways. It lacks rigidity and that is why it is the biggest disappointment of this comparative in terms of dynamics. Is that bad? Keep in mind that it takes years with the same design.

But its strength is manifested in standstill: even in front of the person less fond of the world of the engine Spider is all a precious.

What does not fit in his flat trunk, for example, large shopping bags; the Spider stores it gallantly behind the front seats. So, when in the BMW there is no space left for the wallet and the Mazda goes all flying, in Italian you still have room for more. And classy, ​​as expected of a gentleman like this.

With the construction of its solid body, incredible seats, a canopy that holds up … All this takes the BMW to the top spot. But the MX5 follows closely. Alfa drivers should take it easy. Your car is the most beautiful and to enjoy it with peace of mind.

The mirror of the BMW, in the frame

All three are very funny, but it is the feelings that transmit that make a simple walk into something else.

The Z1 has retractable doors. The Alpha falls for its sound, the MX5 is a toy

Where has the striking vibrato been left for which we once loved its two liters? He’s gone. The last Spider sound like Adriano Celentano who has put a handkerchief in his mouth.

The fault is the Bosch Motronic ML 41, which in this case acts as a sound destroyer, But relatively. Doppia carburatore (double carburetor), beautiful macchina, dolce life? Bye. And the 120 hp is also not noticeable to the Spider. The four-cylinder seems to be sluggish to take the Italian from 1,152 kilos in 12.2 seconds to 100 kilometers per hour.

The Mazda does it better. With only 115 hp, it finishes the 100 in 9.3 seconds. And in terms of elasticity, in fourth and fifth is even at the level of the block of 170 hp that has the BMW Z1.

To take off his hat! Here, the 1.000 kg of weight demonstrates its releasing effect. And is that the MX-5 was never intended to be a heavy or serious car. It has always been created to play. And that’s how the little Japanese man behaves. Not too fast, but with very fun skids. If you want of course.

Alfa also likes to wiggle, but its rear moves as if it were totally disengaged from the rest of the car, perhaps because of the time when its concept was designed. Again, better to take things slowly.

In the Z1 you can live what it feels like when the engineers are really interested in making the car perfect. For the Z1 a very balanced work of art has been composed. The steering is accurate, the freedom for the legs perfect and it is manageable as a go-kart.

Hallelujah! Like fallen directly from the sky of cars! It sticks literally to the road as if its wheels were melted with asphalt. It is impressive even today. Could you climb Everest on the fast track?

No. That would stop his engine. With everything that has been invested for the chassis, it seems that there is not enough money left to mount a heart in conditions.

The six-cylinder in-line 2.5-liter mounts, imported from the 325i, does sing a beautiful melody, but up to 4,500 laps seems somewhat malnourished. But as soon as it reaches the good zone, it destroys everything. As if your engine had a turbocharger, a breath of fresh air passes through each and every one of the six cylinders.

Then, it can be. And why not from the beginning? It is the main fault of this future classic with capital letters. Well, that and that may be too neutral; it leaves you a little cold. It does not lead you to develop passion like with Alpha, nor does it bring you closer to the MX-5 myth. That is his biggest point against.

The BMW is perfect for the perfect tour. Its driving is active, it invites to attack any curve. The Mazda MX-5 deserves a respect because simple things are not always fun and it succeeds. And the Alpha? It is not so fast or dynamic. Play in another league, in the charm of the classic roadster.

The BMW again imposes itself

Cost evaluation: And how much does this cost?

Expect an invoice of 25,000 dollars for a good Z1. If you do not have so much money, for a tenth you can already have an MX-5.

Game numbers: a BMW Z1 is good condition can cost about 30,000 dollars today . That is, almost like three Alpha Spider or five Mazda MX-5. The market does not always put realistic prices on each model. For example, a Mazda MX-5 can appear in the market for 3,000 euros with 15 or 20 years, in an acceptable state, although it is not normal. In the case of this little Japanese you should not worry about depreciation, the cost factor is more important when you buy new ones, but now it is so low that the thing cannot go less. Maybe in the end there are even great reasons for joy when the little Japanese win in value. Because he will. That, in the case of BMW and Alpha can almost be guaranteed already.

Also, a tip: if you dare, leave the classified ads pages and search for Europe. What in Spain has scandalous prices, may not be so prohibitive in the north, Although the opposite may also occur. And the United States is a good source: you just have to study the transport section well.

Until the time comes, at least the little Miata fits into any family budget just as it is. Taxes, insurance, revisions and spare parts have popular prices, for example: a hard top you can find for 800 dollars with a quick search on the Internet, where the pages dedicated to this roadster abound.

Fans of the German brand should sit down now and put on the belt. A silencer for a Z1 costs between 1,500 and 2,000 dollars. Okay, the piece is aesthetically stunning, but even so, the spare parts for the BMW make a hole too big in the pocket. If you are not careful, you will stumble across German and you will have a real financial crisis. And the German has even more costs: his plastic body. After an accident, the outer skin will need many patches and that the mechanic “of the neighborhood” does not know. Although you can also buy expensive spare parts.

The Alfisti do not know these problems, although in the case of the Spider, the costs are in another side. Corrosion, for example, can become an important issue, although prices are usually fairly logical. For example, the floor of the trunk for a model between 1970 and 1993 can cost about 500 dollars, and one arm of the rear suspension, for 150 you have it.

Mechanics also have “their thing”. If the Spider is not treated with the same care as a flower, you will quickly find a spot on the elevator platform of any workshop.


This chapter does not win the BMW Z1, logically is last. The Mazda MX-5 rises to the throne of costs. It is a real bargain.

Z1: high technology in small series

The picture looks very good monocoque chassis. It is galvanized with zinc by hot dip and has a bee-like honeycomb-like floor similar to that used in aeronautics. The body parts of thermoplastic panels are bolted to the frame. So the repairs were not so complicated. Today is another to sing if you have to add a new panel. Special feature of the Z1 is the engine located far back, almost at the driver’s feet. BMW called this form of placement front center engine.

The rigid frame of the telescope protects in case of overturning and leads to the current of air above the heads. It was well studied aerodynamics: silent rear (blue), bumper and diffuser species provide excellent poise even today

The overall rating: the winner is blue-white

The Z1 was a very expensive and luxurious car, that’s why it’s better designed and built … and that’s why it wins.

The Alpha Spider is the least dynamic, but the most charming spends

The surprise of the result is not that it won the BMW Z1, but the Mazda MX-5 has managed to muster both in its favor. How? With its unbeatable price / fun ratio. If you are looking to have fun with a convertible for a reasonable price, your car is Japanese. Its motto is to enjoy without more and not only when the sun shines.

The BMW does things more seriously, more perfection. Accumulate many points for its benefits. The most stubborn followers are sure to be willing to pay big money for a Z1. In return they take a monument with wheels that shows what mechanically could be done 20 years ago.

Age does not protect from stubbornness and this is demonstrated by the Alpha Spider. It drives almost the same as in 1966: soft chassis, very Italian mechanics that requires a lot of pampering, but also a lot of complicity with its driver. Unfortunately, it has lost some of the charm of the past, something that we have to thank for the invention of Plastic … And the savings policy of those years.


Going open is always fun. But in different ways. The Alpha Spider is a case for those who put the shape to the function. The BMW Z1 likes it in the role of the perfect driving machine; it knows how to do more things than many modern cars. And the Mazda MX-5 follows the motto of the first roadster: to be simply fun.