“Just going for a bag of groceries can be a lot of fun. The real trick to owning one of these (Miata) is you always take the long way home,” – Comedian Jay Leno
“Those who dismiss the Miata as a ‘chick car,’ have never driven one” – Tom Voelk, New York Times auto reviewer.
Do I love my Miata (my little green chariot) more than I love my new bride?
That would be a big, “no,” and for good reason.
Having said that, can there be more than one love in a mature male’s life without him getting stuck in deep doo-doo? The answer is “yes.”
This coming June will be the 10th anniversary of my purchase of an emerald mica and tan (rag top and leather interior) Mazda Miata. After travelling more than 127,000 miles, I am asking myself: ‘Why not 10 more years with the same car?’
When I first acquired my Mazda Miata, I was the director of Corporate Public Relations for LSI Logic Corporation. Driving my new car into the employee parking lot, I raised a few eyebrows with my new ride, triggering predictable suggestions of a “mid-life crisis.”
“Why didn’t you get it in red?” I was repeatedly asked.
Have you ever seen an Oregon Duck football game? Even with the myriad of “Just-Do-It” uniform changes courtesy of Uncle Phil, there is not a smidgen of red to be found. Besides I am not a red guy, unless you want to count Oregon pinot noir or amber ale.
Overall my purchase drew thumbs up from my colleagues except for accurate criticisms that the Miata is a great car, “if you have another car.” And I did have another car, an all-wheel drive Subaru Legacy that served me with distinction for more than a decade.
Gangster Rapper? Me?
As I contemplated buying a new car way back in 2004, my daughter suggested that I purchase a white Cadillac Escalade. Her reasoning was simple: “All the gangster rappers drive Escalades.” Do I remind anyone even for a nanosecond of a gangster rapper? Besides they can afford the super fuel and upkeep for an Escalade, complete I assume with bullet-proof windows.
Seriously, I was thinking about a 3-series convertible von Deutschland, in particular von den Bayerische Motoren Werke (e.g., BMW). It didn’t take me long to figure out that I could acquire two Mazda Miatas for the price of one Beemer 3-Series convertible, excluding the major difference in upkeep…not in favor of the Beemer. Including obligatory California taxes and license, I was able to purchase the car for under $30,000 … that’s a deal.
Some were curious about why I would buy a Mazda, thinking the brand was beneath me. And my reply was to ask: ‘Is a Corvette just a Chevy?’ A Miata (it will never be an MX-5 to me…sorry Mazda Marketing Department) is a special car, one that serves as a logical and workable continuation of the high-maintenance Lotus Elan, Triumph Spitfire, MG MGB, Fiat 124 Sport Spider and the Alfa Romeo Spider. The post-war Brit and Italian designers had the idea right – a fun two-seater sports convertible – they just failed on the execution.
What’s the old joke about needing to buy two Jaguars? You can drive one, while the other is in the shop.
Leave it to Japanese designers/engineers with their now legendary penchant for quality to get it right.
My romance with Miata began by mistake. My plane to San Francisco was late and the rental car agency had very few cars left. Instead of a sub-compact econo-box, they rented me a blue Miata. For the first time ever, I didn’t want to return a rental car. I never forgot that Miata.
As a smitten owner of a Miata, I have to report that the four-cylinder, back-wheel drive car has plenty of guts on the highway. Why? My second generation car only weighs 1,065 pounds. As a driver you are much closer to the road and you literally feel every bump and pot hole. Be careful with big rigs, and whatever you do, stay out of their blind spots.
The handling and turning radius is easily the best I have ever experienced in any vehicle. If you can’t parallel park a Miata, then you simply can’t parallel park any car. Going topless? Just flip two low-tech latches and you are in business. As a follicly challenged male, I always have to remember my sun glasses and ball cap. Soon I will be hugging the curves.
As the Miata celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, it has already set a Guinness World Record of 900,000 vehicles, easily the world’s best-selling two-seater sports car. Mazda is expected to reach the 1 million mark next year.
Is the Miata for everybody? Alas, it is not a family car. There are only two seats and an itsy-bitsy truck, about big enough for a picnic basket, some folding chairs and that aforementioned bottle of Oregon pinot noir.
And when does spring come? How about right now? Time to put the top down.