What's This Off-Road Mazda Miata Doing at a Government Surplus Auction?

Of all the auction sites out there, the ones for government surplus auctions are some of the weirdest, carrying anything from kayaks to Humvees to even more bizarre things that The Man just happens to have laying around. You may find the expected stuff, like ex-fleet Honda Civic Hybrids, or you might find something more interesting, like this 1997 Jeep Wrangler that’s been stretched into a limousine. 

If you’re looking to go off the pavement, however, there’s a 1992 Mazda Miata for sale on GovPlanet right now that’s far more capable than that Wrangler, and not just because of its shorter wheelbase. 

This 1992 Mazda Miata’s listing description really says it all: “The wheels and tires are oversized for the unit.” It rides on relatively massive 235/75R15 Forceum off-road tires. The fenders have been cut to accommodate those massive meats with all the TLC of someone who just wants to skip ahead to the point where they rip around and get dirty. 

There are some other mods that are visible: Maxpeedingrods coilovers that don’t look like they were built for off-roading, a tall shifter for its manual transmission, aftermarket head unit, angel eye-style headlamps and extra air intakes that fit where the front turn signals would usually go. A lip spoiler and rear diffuser won’t help it crawl around in the dirt, but they’re there anyway. 

Perhaps the most useful mod for what you’ll inevitably do with it is the pair of shiny chrome roll hoops that sit behind the seats. 

It runs and drives, but it does have torn CV boots, a welded-together axle, a missing charcoal canister, an inoperable air conditioner and an oil leak around the oil pan. There isn’t a muffler, as the exhaust simply turns down ahead of the rear of the car. (Good, I say.)

Even though the starting bid is listed at $1,500—I guess the government “knows what they have”—the 278,868-mile Miata itself looks to be worth all of a wet fart, making this look like the perfect ready-made Gambler 500 rig. Few things are more fun than mercilessly flogging the crap out of a beater, and if you just want an easy entry point into the Safari All the Cars Club, here you go. 

The real question is, why is this here? It is painted a dull, scratched-up white, which is the color of choice for fleets everywhere, so I want to believe that some government agency decided to blow the office budget on an off-roadster build. It’s not reeeeeally a waste of government funds if it rules, right? You’ve got to inspect and maintain trails on public land somehow, after all. 

More likely, however, is that this was seized from a civilian who was either convicted or accused (as the civil forfeiture process is pretty borked) of a crime. Either way, we have so many questions. Please let us know if you buy this and find out how it ended up in a government surplus auction. (The Drive kindly requests that you send footage of rad dirt donuts as proof of purchase.)

The auction starts tomorrow, January 27, 2021, at 1:50 p.m. ET. You can check out the full listing with a mind-blowing 114 photos of this thing here. 

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