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Sunday, 19 June 2016


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I think what you are saying is that the Miata, in current parlance, has good haptics. In other words, it's got well-weighted and equally-weighted control input and response to such input. However, to each his own, Mike. Every open top car I have driven suffers from chassis flexing (on anything other than smooth, straight roads) which imo ruins the driving experience. I can't stand the easily-upset suspension, the scuttle shake etc. What you noted as soft suspension is for a purpose: to hide the lack of chassis rigidity. Mechanical integrity is an important haptic, too. What we expect from our cameras, we should expect from our cars, no?

[Sacrilege! You, Sir, are banished to the Caymans. --Mike]

You could get a wrx wagon instead of a forester. With snow tires on cheap wheels, I am sure it would be OK in upstate NY. The STI wagon is Japan only, it seems :(

Being a child of the 50s and a teenager in the 60s the VW Bug was the car of choice for all teens in Southern California.

So along comes the NEW Bug with the engine in the wrong end of the car.

Miatas have a reputation as "chick cars." Last year, I think, VW remodeled the VW Bug because it was getting a reputation as a Chick Car. Only problem is now it really does look like a chick car.

[I don't even think it's a valid concept. --Mike]

"I chose this and it's awesome."

You've gone beyond "bad", beyond "dorky", into a land beyond limits of taste . . .

"Watch for convertible Corvettes and Miatas and notice who's driving. Chances are it'll be a grumpy-looking older male in a bad hat. Bro! :-)"

They're grumpy 'cause they bought sexy cars that aren't really comfortable and unbelievably un-sexy hats that no one could be happy in.

With one of my non-bad hats, in my 21 year old Olds convertible, I'm smilin'.

I don't seem to have any in the car, so these will have to do.

You know, I do look a little grumpy in this one, maybe the glare, maybe 'cause I'm driving a rental SUV? Still, a good looking hat with chin strap for the convertible.

(I looked at and sat in Corvette, Firebird and Camaros, and test drove a Mustang, before buying the Olds. All cramped and uncomfortable.)

[Looks good on you.

I have an unusually large head, and most hats make me look silly. Well, even sillier than I normally look. --Mike]

Must be nice knowing that a perfect fit (for you) is out there, accessible, familiar, and just waiting for your heart to win out over your head.

If only more things in life could be like that...

Buy the CX-5 Mike! Incredible fuel economy, roomy and fun to drive. We've driven our 2016 from just short of James Bay (only because the road ended,) south to Key West and to Cape Spear, Newfoundland which is as far east as one can travel in North America. Not a Miata but a fine vehicle nonetheless. My escape car is an '03 Cooper S which has cost me a fortune over the years but brings such a smile to my face everytime I get in it, I'll probably never give it up!

Maxwell Smart would approve!

I've never driven a Miata. The most fun I had driving a car was in a (BMW) Mini Cooper S that I drove for a week or so on assignment about ten years ago. Pure pleasure, even in urban stop and go traffic. I hear there's now a 2-seat roadster version.

The "chick-car" myth reminds me of an observation made by a friend from Bavaria, that in the US station wagons were considered staid family cars, while in his country it was young people who drove them, for hauling the camping and skiing gear, friends, musical instruments, etc. associated with their fun. (This was over a dozen years ago, when station wagons still existed in the US).

Which reminds me of another car I enjoyed for very different reasons--a Subaru Outback I rented during a snowy winter weekend. All the advantages of 4wd in something that drove like a car (I'd much rather drive a car than steer a truck or SUV).

I bought a 2002 Honda S2000 about 9 months ago. It's my current perfect car.

When the first Miata was announced, at the end of the 80's, we ordered one; a red one. It was great. It was the first sportscar I had had since the end of the 60's when under similar conditions we had ordered a Datsun 240Z, and got one of the first ones in Canada. My wife and I each paid half with most of our savings, and this was a year before we got married. Intervening years had seen lots of sedans (I'm not interested in vans, SUVs and certainly not pickup trucks). The Miata was relatively light, a convertible, nimble and everything was in balance. The engine didn't overpower the chassis, nor vice versa.

The only thing it wasn't was a photographer's car; certainly not for me at that time. Currently it comes closer, with the quality of digital generally letting you get what you want with smaller equipment, but in those days I was doing commercial/architectural/construction photography so the Miata was marginal at best with my medium format field kit, let alone my 4x5 or 8x10 kit. My Gitzo #5 Geant could only fit in the passenger side, and the requisite 8' stepladder was only transportable on non-rainy days. But it was a nice car. Benign, relatively inexpensive to maintain and completely reliable. In the latter stages of our ownership my daughter drove it.

We now have a number of cars as my wife likes cars at least as much as I do and she has certainly been responsible for the major outlays for vehicles. Still no SUVs nor trucks though. So my utility vehicle is a ten year old Subaru Impreza since the new Subarus are not as practical as that hatchback or are SUVs. 4w drive, hatchback, seats 4 and has a roof rack. My main summer car is a Porsche Boxster, which I bought at 4 years of age and now have had for 6 years. I paid considerably less than a new Miata costs and while servicing undoubtedly costs more, it's still worth 75% of what I paid for it. I still can't put a stepladder in it with the top up, but it has two trunks, front and back (I was told there's an engine in there somewhere, but I haven't seen it) and has been very practical. We've taken it on long trips for a couple of weeks at a time and there is room for everything, easily.

The engine sounds fantastic, especially when prodded with the help of the lovely transmission, and the handling is divine. It also is well balanced, with more power than the Miata but also a better chassis and tires. And the engine is truly in the proper position.

I have had and driven many more powerful cars, including Corvettes, Ferraris and high end Porsches but the Boxster is my ideal, and I get to drive it whenever it's warm enough for the tires I got on it. I am very fortunate.

I have sitting on my driveway an original 1998 Miata that is all you say and then some. The perfect photographers car except for stowing my big tripod. That and needing something to keep the camera from sliding around on the "well bolstered" seats, either that or drive more sedately.

I hope those upright shopping bags are supported - otherwise they will stop being upright at the first corner.

Just test-drove a few practical vehicles (for snowy WNY) with the wife. The Subaru Forester is pretty darn sluggish with the base 2.5 L four, but it's legitimately quick with the 2.0 turbo, which is a great engine. The steering is sports-car tight and the brakes are great. So far so good. Unfortunately, it only comes with the ghastly CVT transmission. Nicely fuel efficient, but it feels like a giant rubber band (complete with a bit of subtle to-and-fro- surging) and sounds like a blender permanently set on 'mix'. Hrmph. Too bad you can't get a Forester turbo with a manual transmission, like they used to make.

I see that you're a man of modest but cultivated tastes, Mike.

Mine are cruder. Though I have no excuse now,I lust after a Land Rover. They've stopped building them. I thought they would be there forever...

I was probably never meant to have cars anyway. My first car was a Simca, college graduation present. Friend backed his car into it the second day I had it.

My favorite car after that was a brand new bright red Saab 96,which I drove all over Navajo country, mostly not on roads. Wrapped it around a tree in 1971. My next favorite car was the VW Beetle I had in Sri Lanka, which I drove all over the place, a lot of it without roads. Once the floor of the back seat fell out, along with the battery. Bad roads, bad driver, but I blame the climate.

From there it's been VW all the way. But O for a Land Rover.

My perfect car, and the one that got away when I was having fun in the current one, was a 1992 Sunburst Yellow Miata.

My nearly, but not quite perfect, car was a 1990 Red Miata, bought in `99 with 36k on it.

(the biggest problem with the '90 and early '91s is the short nose on the crankshaft. Eventually, it will fail. And it's about a 4k repair, if you can find a longnose crank from a later model.)

At 6' 2", 245 pounds, I can barely cram myself into a Miata, can't see the pedals and look half-way over the top of windshield to see the road. I can't imagine how you find it comfortable. Since you do, however, the answer is obviously to buy the car of your dreams and buy a beater SUV for the other 6 months of the year.

What color will the Miata be?

Consider the possibility of buying a well-regarded ten-year old 4WD with ~100,000 miles or so, like a Toyota Highlander, which you could get for around $10,000 or less, for dogs, lots of crap inside and winter driving -- then get the Miata for tooling around in the summer.

Or, buy a Miata in May, don't make any payments, and by the time they repossess it in October, you'll have 20,000 miles on it and the urge to own one will have passed.

Or get an end-of-year Toyota Highlander and use it for everything. You'll be able to drive anywhere in the country, comfortably, take the dogs and all your photo gear, even go mildly off-road, get good mileage if you buy the hybrid, and be all set.

THEN, because you like that driveyface mcdrivey stuff, buy a seat on a 24-hours-of-lemons team. Cost you a couple thousand dollars a year (or maybe a couple more than that) and you'll have little use for a Miata.

Mike, you mentioned the "Body Roll" of the Miata. This is a function of the double wishbone suspension design. Moderate roll enhances grip and handling,apparently.
Love my '91 NA, and yes,I'm grey and wear a hat..

Yes, but is there enough room for Lulu and Butters in the back?

I fold down the back seats in my Volvo (and my former Saab) to give a large space for my 4-legged companions.

Most important!

I graduated high school in 1978. Then, as always- at least as long as I have been aware of them- I lusted after a 911. It was so bad my high school sweetheart made a decoupage plaque of the car and gave it to me for my birthday. About eight years ago I bought a 1978 911. It is not the turbo, but it is perfect.

"[Looks good on you."

Thanks! We were out and about today, so I got Carol to take a snap of an old guy in proper old guy hat and proper old guy car. \;~)>

"I have an unusually large head, and most hats make me look silly. Well, even sillier than I normally look. --Mike]"

Y'all come on out; we know how to handle that in Calif.

I've had a Miata lust for years but it isn't like yours. I also had a sailboat lust for many years like Arlo in the comics but in reality neither suits me. I don't like boating on big open water and a Miata doesn't really suit my lifestyle. I guess the attraction is an image thing. I live near and spend a fair amount of time in the Adirondacks so a soft top Jeep would actually be more my speed and no, I don't own one. I looked at one (yellow with a V6) before buying my very first car but decided it wasn't practical and unless I have a truck too it wouldn't be practical now either. OTOH of all the vehicles I've ever driven, the one I most enjoyed driving was a van. One of the old ones where the driver's seat is over the front wheel. Crazy huh? "If I was a rich man..." I'd have a garage with about a dozen vehicles to choose from depending on my mood.

When I had a MX-5 NA (as the Miata is sold in Oz), my dog's bed was strapped in behind the seats on the parcel shelf and ahead of the roof (when down), and the dog was strapped into the bed. It was of the two cars I regret selling (fortunately to friends who still own it) - the other being a 1972 Oz assembled Morris Cooper S Mk2 (a LOT more maintenance than the Mazda). Seriously tempted by the ND - 1.5 litre (you can buy both the 1.5l and the 2l engines here) as closer to the original and manual gearbox (snick snick). Blue. Hmmm. Stopping now!

[Hope you have some cash because the blue color is only available for the loaded version, the so-called "Grand Touring" which is a dumb name for a sports car because it's certainly not a touring or grand touring car in the classical sense. Another glitch: all the interiors are black, which is stupid in a convertible because when they're in the sun they get hot. But other colors will be along in other years; that's how Mazda does it. --Mike]

Mike, I think I warned you about taking the 2016 for a test drive. You have more will power than I my friend. I wasn't really considering buying one (I've owned a '90, '95 SE and a 2003)... and then I drove it.

I have 3 dogs btw..

Yes, we have a second car when we have to haul bigger things.. But you have to enjoy life!

It's probably the last "fun car" I'll own. We're heading in a direction that will make most cars electric (which is boring) soon. And ultimately, you'll climb into the car and tell it where you want to go (which is even more boring).

Enjoy fun cars while we have the chance!

My "perfect car" really does have to be something affordable. Even in my daydreams, I do not hanker after supercars. I wouldn't want to be responsible for a finicky low-volume supercar; I'd resent the through-the-roof cost of maintenance even if I could afford it; and it's a matter of principle and of perspective, too. I don't like ostentation, and for me to feel comfortable driving a car, it would have to be something an ordinary non-1%er citizen a) could theoretically afford and b) wouldn't envy too much. I don't mind sticking out, but I wouldn't want to be "sticking anyone's nose in it" when I drive by.

This describes me to a T. I imagine the perfect sports car, for me, is something electro-mechanical and mostly computer-free, so that if I wanted to I could, with a little training and the right tools, take it apart and re-build it inside my garage. In an ideal world anyone with a job could buy one if they wanted to, and it would run like a top and drive like dream and last indefinitely with proper care and maintenance. No such car exists, of course, which is why I have no idea what I would buy if I were going to buy a car anytime soon.

I've given some thought to buying a (pre-1990) Porsche 911, because I appreciate its utility for sheer motoring lust, but the whole marque seems insufferably smug to me, and owning one would fly in the face of everything you said in the paragraph I quoted, and I'd feel like a total knob driving it. So I guess that's out.

I think you should buy the Miata, or lease it, if you can manage to without too much strain. Life is short and then you die, as we are so often reminded. If the last word on your bluing lips happens to be Miata (hey, it could happen), you want it to be because you had the car and drove it and loved your time driving it, not because you always wanted to but didn't.

I've just spent the entire evening, and well into the wee hours, reading about cars on the internet, and it's all your fault. :-)

..and yes, I'm grey and wear a hat too..

Yet another Miata story with a very happy ending. My son graduated college (Navy ROTC ) in 1989 with a degree in aeronautical engineering and was heading to Officer Candidate School and on to Flight School for the U.S. Navy at Pensacola, FL. He was ready to purchase his first new car. After much research, he decided on the 1990 Miata, which had just been introduced. I got a call for help one day. It seemed all the Florida dealers he contacted were asking a large premium above list price. I contacted the Mazda dealership in Thomaston, CT (just a town away from me) and they were asking list price, plus extra for a dealer installed premium radio. He sent a deposit in early June and got on the waiting list. The plan was that I would drive the new Miata to Florida, and he would provide an plane ticket for me to fly home. We decided on my driving down over the Labor Day weekend so he could get a less expensive return ticket well in advance, allowing me to drive the car a bit and make sure everything worked before setting off to Florida.

I called the dealer every week, and then almost everyday as Labor Day was only a couple of weeks away. His car arrived on the Wednesday before Labor Day and I had one day to drive it to work and home (70 miles) for a shakedown drive. Very early Friday morning I set out on the 1300+ miles to Pensacola driving his brand new Miata. The car attracted a crowd every place I stopped. I have never a car that was more fun to drive, and more comfortable for a long drive (14 hours the first day)

When I arrived Saturday afternoon, I told him if he ever wanted to get rid of the Miata, I wanted first option to buy. My first new car was a 1966 Triumph Spitfire that I owned for 3 years, ironically had to sell when our son was born. It was a fun car, but not even close to the Miata. I got to drive the Miata again when my son was stationed overseas for three years, driving it only to keep it “tuned”.

The call came almost 11 years after my Miata drive to Pensacola. His then wife didn’t like the Miata, preferring a Jeep or pickup truck. I purchased the Miata for what the Jeep dealer was offering for trade in, I believe it was $2,000. My daughter and I took the train from CT to Norfolk, VA. to pick up the Miata and road trip home.

I’ve owned the Miata since then and it has only 176 K miles on it. My son wanted to buy it back, as his current lovely wife adored the Miata. After I gently refused, they ended up buying a used one, only to have it totaled by an airborne vehicle landing on it a year after he purchased it.

The Miata is somewhat shared by the family. I’m 73 years old and it’s getting more difficult to get in and out of it, but once seated and belted in, I could, and have, driven for hours at time. The day is approaching when I’ll no longer be able to drive, and then I will sell it to my son for exactly what I paid him for it those many years ago, and keep the 1990 Miata in the family.

[Great story! Thanks. --Mike]

Back in '99, I bought one of the first available Audi TTs. One of the VERY first, before they hastily softened the suspension and added the bird perch (excuse me.....spoiler) onto the rear deck.

I mentioned to a friend at work that I was waffling about actually making the purchase, fearing that it might look like a mid-life crisis, etc. She asked me how old I was (55), and suggested that I should buy it while I still wanted it, that there might come a time, etc.

I did, and my wife and I had ten wonderful years with that car, after which I sold it and used the proceeds to build a small wood rowboat.

Strike while the iron is hot.


Knew you were a closet car guy, but had no idea how much. You know that you live near Watkins Glen right? They have a great sports car weekend every year. Last year featured Miatas as a matter of fact. You should do a little track time if you can swing it or if you haven't done it before. So yes you should get the Miata and damn the finances. Then track it until the tires melt. It will sharpen your photo reflexes too, I promise.

Doug -

Easy there on Porsche-knobness. Half the guys I know in PCA are totally regular car nuts. The other half... Well, half of middle age photographers are landscape guys, you know?

Tip for anyone who likes sports cars. A first or second generation Boxter (a 986 or 987) has depreciated to an awfully sweet price. Six cylinders of raspy goodness, sublime handling, and good looks for 12k. Drop it a bit, put a set of five spoke Rays Volks on it, open up the exhaust and you have a bad a§§ porsche that no one will think you're a tool driving.

Life's short. Buy the Miata before the knees and hips get too creaky, maybe a used one. You can get a used Subaru or other AWD for the snow and the dogs.

I had to give in and get a taller car to make my hip happy. If you get a sport's car some of us can enjoy it vicariously.

Ah yes, but the front grill design cues of the new Miata look like they came from the Pixar Movie "Cars". I'm not sure I could ever own a sports car with a smiley face no matter how well balanced and behaved it drives. Sorry, Mike, if I burst your bubble ;-(

Having just decided to fix my trustworthy Sienna in lieu of maxing out on debt and a shiny wonderful..well, yeah another 3 row something, I relate to wanting vs. needing vs. really, really, wanting. Granted, my dream cars are wagons - Turbo Volvos or an Acura TSX wagon(alas, TDI Sportwagens, you were too good to be sure...) but a Miata as a dream car smacks of both taste and sensibility. I'm waiting for my dotage and a targa-topped Miata....

There are two cars I would love to have again. One being a well sorted chrome bumper Fiat 124 Spider, the other a well sorted Citroen ID19. Both were much loved holes in the road into which went lots of money.

I have driven a MX5 (as the Miata is called in other markets) and I tend to agree with the sentiments of a certain English auto writer who said that "all it needs to make it a proper sports car is an oil leak and an electrical problem."

One day, no doubt, when I'm living somewhere where owning a car is a sensible idea, I'm going to end up with a MX5/Miata. It is a damm fine car, up there with the Honda S2000 when looking at Japanese sports cars.

People chide me for buying a "chick car" (2001 LX). I always reply, "why should they have all the fun?"
Mine just turned over 100k and is running good.

Years ago, I bought a used '82 Fiat Spyder, fulfilling a dream I'd had since I first saw the car in Road & Track as a teenager in the late '60s. By 1982, Fiat was finally using decent steel and I had no problems with rust; the fuel injection solved a world of reliability problems. I drove that car for 14 years, and might be driving it still, but my wife was becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the fact that it had no airbags, ABS brakes or other modern safety amenities. So the only solution, I persuaded her, was to buy a new Miata in 2008. This is the NC model, with the smaller grill before it went fish face in 2009. The new Miata is tempting, not that I need it. But perhaps even more tempting is the Fiat 124 Spyder that's about to arrive in showrooms. It's based on the ND Miata and is even built by Mazda in Japan. Haven't seen one in the flesh yet, but it appears to be a fine looking car, rather more traditional without the somewhat origami styling of the ND.

There is no such thing as a perfect car. Try a motorcycle, but not one of these American ones where the feet are way too far to the front, so that each bump of the road goes directly into your spine... try a proper one, where the feet are under your body, and then go riding those curvy country roads...

Test drive a used Honda Element ... I think you'll fall in love with it. It's the Perfect car for a dog owner, and the light 4WD allows you to live through the winter. Honda's 2.5L liter engine is legendary for it's reliability, and you could add a poptop camper tent to it, and make a it a perfect photography adventure mobile ;-)

My favourite wheel transport (aka car) would be a 4x4. That is the perfect vehicle for photography, as it can go almost anywhere off the beaten path, thus enabling new photo ops.

Ironic that the model for the original Miata was the open-topped British 2-seater, itself an anachronism in a country where it rains, somewhere, every day.

Though perhaps not, considering how much we worship the 20 minute bursts of sun we do get. A hood that goes up and down in seconds is a big plus.

The new Miata is a masterpiece, no doubt. So much so, Fiat asked them to build their own version, the new 124 Spider. The harder edged, higher torque turbo engine (esp. in the Abarth) and retuned suspension (for 'European' tastes) makes it an interesting alternative with a different character.

It's still light, flickable and fun, but slightly sharper to turn in, more economical and more thrusty, albeit with some turbo lag at low engine speeds.

The styling is more ostentatious perhaps, but I'm warming to it. The Miata, though very tidy indeed, is a little too anodyne for my tastes. A bit like the S2000 Honda, another excellent car.

The standard 124 seems like a good blend of Italian sparkle and Japanese engineering. It's faster than the 1.6 Miata, lighter than the 2L one, and looks a bit like a bambino Maserati.

I'm very tempted.

VW camper van with 4WD 'syncro' and the newer TDI diesel engine. Mileage into the high 30's, speeds to 100mph, heaters that actually work year round and a ton of room for photo gear along with sliding side doors so I can photograph from inside during rain and lightning storms.

When my wife and I went to the first new faculty party at the college where she teaches it was December and we had just moved from NYC to what is now your latitude, Mike, but in Vermont. When we got to the party, I felt like we had missed the memo. There, lined up in the driveway: Subaru, Subaru, Subaru, Subaru, Subaru (repeat) . . . and then our little VW. Well my wife still drives that car 14 years later, but we have added an Outback as my car and the "snowy day" car. As you know, nothing will help with ice except going really slowly. ;)

So when the time came for a second car, I bought a used Subaru Outback with 75K on it. Its odometer just rolled over to 206K. It rattles and hums, and the engine sounds like it is powered by hamsters on a wheel. But it is a stick shift (a must for me that is getting harder to find in new cars), the gas mileage is OK for a 4 wheel drive car and it has been rock-solid dependable. The VW has a turbo on its small engine, which is quiet and more powerful than we need -- it drives more smoothly and is more fun to drive. But the Subaru is definitely the car for the climate, if you know what I mean. It will never be as fun to drive, but it gets you where you need to go, has a roof rack for a bike and a kayak and can tow a small trailer with a little sail boat (or two kayaks) if that's your poison. It does lumber, medium sized furniture, groceries, fire fighting gear, you name it. When it dies, we will probably lease an electric car from Plattsburg Nissan north and east of you. But I will nurse it as far as it is prepared to go. Subaru. You know it is calling to you. Resistance is futile.

I drove rear wheel drive cars in upstate NY (albeit years back)in the winter and would suggest that if you get a Miata, you will need a second car with AWD (or at least FWD) and higher ground clearance. Even down here close to NYC, a sports car is very iffy in the winter.

Tch, what would Charlie Sheen say to a Miata!

BTW my perfect car has 2 wheels.

The best photographer's car is a bicycle...

No, Mike, the "manual myth" is just as wrong as the "chick myth". A good automatic, designed to be instantaneously shifted manually, makes any manual seem pathetically unresponsive and boring.

Being forced to remove and replace a dark slide does not make a camera more "involving". The manual days are over.

But, will Mazda sell you a good automatic? Not if the sales depend on a myth.

[Sounds like flappy paddles are great...for YOU. Me, I want three proper pedals and a stick shift, and that's just all there is to it! --Mike

@MIchael re: Landrovers..

They will be there forever - a Landrover is just a big Meccano set (don't know if that translates to US speak). Anyone who knows which way to hold a spanner can keep one on the road. (Ok. That's maybe an exaggeration)

Get the Miata, a pair of extra rims, and studded snow tires. Motoring around SUV's on icey hills in my Volvo P1800 was too much fun.

Just took my camera our for a spin in my '74 Alfa Romeo Spider. I consider it the analog version of the (digital) Miata.

The Miata is, I'm sure, a lot more convenient and a whole lot of fun. But the tone and dynamic range of the Alfa leave it in the dust if you ask me.

It doesn't help on registration or taxes, but State Farm allows me to put seasonal coverage on vehicles, wherein I drop all coverage except comprehensive when I put one in storage. This drops cost of coverage to ten bucks or so a month. Also, I think their RV coverage goes year-around if there is at least a sink installed in the vehicle I don't remember the specifics of this program).

If getting in and out of a Miata is a struggle in your seventies, for the complete experience you need to try getting in and out of my single-seat sailplane at age 71.

I fit the mold - mid-50s, grey and thinning, bad hat, Miata (a 2006 Sport purchased in 2015 in my case.) And I'm loving it!

I own the nearly-perfect car (for me) already: a Honda Odyssey. With 3 kids under the age of 10, there is no better vehicle with a proven track record of reliability. The only thing it's lacking is AWD (which is coming with the 2017 model).

I'm very much a function-before-fashion guy. A minvan could serve extremely well for an individual photographer wanting to travel. There's room enough for all the gear and a bed roll. The only thing it couldn't do is get to those high-clearance areas of the wilderness. But that's why hiking boots were invented. :)

Did not know the Miata was considered a "chick car," and I can't actually recall having seen a woman driving one. I have, though, heard that they have a reputation as a car "favored by gay men," and I always wonder if straight men who drive them either haven't heard that, or just don't care. That reputation didn't seem odd to me, as it seems to fit where i live (LA). The reputation that did seem odd, though, was that Subarus are "lesbians' cars." Have not found supporting data on that one.

The whole psycho/sociological aspect of automobiles is interesting to me. I lived in NYC for 25 years, my entire adult life, without a car, and so i paid little attention to them. Now that i'm in Los Angeles, it's almost all one can think about. There's a cliche or stereotype for just about every vehicle, and it's amusing when observation seems to correspond to the presumption.

[Really? I've heard gay men buy large pickup trucks. --Mike]

I bought a beautiful white Scion FRS off the showroom floor and it is my perfect car 90% of the time. However, when I travel to our local National Wildlife Refuge to do some photography, it becomes the 10%. I tell myself it will be a Forester next time around.

BTW, I compared the Rave4 with the Forester, and even though I have owned multiple Toyotas, including a new Landcruiser, I would not buy a Rav4 if I could get the Forester.


Don't do the CX-5 with the smaller engine. Even my long-suffering wife, who merely tolerated my Austin Cooper S and '99 Miata, thought that one was too slow when she had it. Great handlilng car, but a real slug. She's got a CR-V now and is quite happy.


[Charlie, "All Mazdas are underpowered." It's a law. The only exception was the Mazdaspeed 3, and its wrong-wheel-drive couldn't handle the power it had (bad torque steer). --Mike]

My father drove a TR6 when we were kids, and it was drilled into us from an early age that it was more fun to FEEL like you were going fast than actually going fast.

Around ten years ago I drove a friends' Miata and while I enjoyed it the car was simply too small for me. With the windows rolled up I wondered where I'd fit my left arm.

Also around this time my father bought a Mini Cooper S. This was his replacement for the TR6... All the fun without breaking down every five miles. Anyways I took it for a spin when he brought it home from the dealership and had my first "oh s**t this is incredibly fun" driving moment as this little car swung around curves like a rocket. I'd buy one in an instant, if it weren't for the snow. And the kids.

You only need the MX5. If you need to transport something large from time to time there will always be a friend with a huge car who's happy to trade it for a weekend with the toy car. And they will soon ask when you will need that SUV/pickup/whatever again.

You know Mike, Fiat has made the Miata even better...

The 2017 Fiat 124 Spider Really Is Better Than The Miata

Especially the ABARTH.

The stock dampers have been switched out for Bilstein units, and the brakes have been replaced by ones built by Brembo. The anti-roll and tower bars are beefier, for sturdier cornering. It’s got a mechanical limited-slip differential. The tires have a bit more stick to them.

The end result is that it’s a hilarious little monster. There’s less of a tendency to understeer, and when it is there, it can be cured with God’s medicine—an irresponsible heavy boot on the loud pedal, inducing oversteer. Push it too far and you will end up going backwards, but you’ll have plenty of warning before you get there. And even if you do end up going backwards because you’re a bit of a nut, that will still mean you’ve got your foot buried in the loud pedal, and the loud pedal sounds good.

Two thoughts regarding others' comments:

I doubt that seasonal registration with a price break is available, but check with your insurance company about savings possible with seasonal coverage. I've had that in earlier days with motorcyle insurance -- six months at a time.

As for Miata's automatic, I have it thanks to an injured left foot with lingering nerve damage. The six speed transmission offers both paddle shifters at the steering wheel and optional use of 'manual' mode -- tip the gear selector forward to shift down, back to shift up. It is extremely fast and sure. It's sequential, like a motorcycle shifter, in that you can't skip from fourth to second without touching third, but it's faster than I was when I could use a clutch. Anyone with a similar limitation (or a need to drive in heavy, stop-and-go commuter traffic) should rethink the bias against automatic transmissions. This one is a dream come true.

Your right on the Subaru BRZ. I just upgraded the tires and its now my dream car. I'm 72 and always wear a snazzy hat when I drive it, but I did the same in the 60s when I drove TR3s and 4s. The BRZ seemed like a natural progression.

My ex-girlfriend used to have a wonderful dark gray mx5 miata while I was driving a Golf wagon. I beleive the best car for a photographer carrying a lot of gear is the Golf wagon. With a stick mind you.


This is going to be boring, but - my Golf 1.4 SE TSi is my perfect car. It's fast enough when I want it to be - under 10s for the 0-60. Economical - I can get slightly > 50mpg (that's UK gallons, which I think are bigger than US gallons) on a long run. Intensely practical - with the rear seats down I can get a lot, and certainly as much as I need, in the back via the hatch. Quiet, refined, drives well enough, responsive if I put it into 'Sport' mode - it's a good car.

I had a couple of (BMW) Mini Coopers (not 'S's) in the past. I enjoyed the first one a lot (bought in 2002, sold in about 2008) - great fun to drive. It was great for blasting around country roads of the Peak District near my home. Not good for long distance - noisy, a bit cramped, not the best driving position. Who needs direct, precision steering on a motorway/interstate? I then bought another one (s/h) in about 2011, but found to my surprise that somewhere in the intervening years I'd stopped being a Mini driver - just too uncomfortable; not my style of car anymore.

Just before I retired I considered what I needed from a car, and how different models met that requirement. The Golf hit all the buttons. The Audi A3 did too, of course - they're the same vehicle under the skin - but at a higher price, so I bought the Golf. I intend to keep it until one or the other of us passes away.

I have owned two Miatas and loved them both but the proliferation of pickups - esp the lifted ones here in CA- made it too scary to drive them. My new MINI (my third) provides the same driving pleasure with full hardtop protection - even has a similar driving position - and has gotten as much as 40mpg. I had my first in Boston and drove it year-round, often sideways in the snow - with a big smile on my face.

[The Miata needs a better horn, that's for sure. I almost got hit once by a woman backing out of a parking space with me trapped directly behind her. Of course she was very overweight and couldn't turn around to look, so she was looking in the rearview mirror, and her vehicle was so large my Miata was invisible to her--completely below her field of vision. My honking did not make it through the sound of her blaring radio. Fortunately, the person in the passenger seat saw me in the side mirror before she crunched into me. The cutesy weak-tea little beeper of a horn did me no good at all. —Mike]

"Forgive me. I hate pickup trucks when they're used as cars."

I'm glad for those who have the luxury of owning and operating more than one vehicle. Really, I am.

I confess, my pickup is used as my car. It's also used as a truck, as we needed to do that while building our home up here, and will be doing it while building our kids' home nearby on the property here in the woods.

And back to being my car most of the rest of the time. We can't afford a second car to use as a car.

[I get it. I can't afford a second car either. --Mike]

Just sayin', Mike...your Miata-related posts keep me coming back nearly as much as your photography posts. I've never owned one but have coveted them since the first year when I could not afford one and didn't need to wear a hat. (and from personal experience, the advice you got was valuable.)
Go buy yourself another Miata, sir.

Just passed a brand new Miata that was the same color as the one in your picture. This is a really good looking car.
A weird thing about Mazdas is that they almost always look better in person than in photographs. I have yet to see a photo that does the Mazda 6 justice.


> pedals are in the right place...

I think you were not paying attention. They're on the wrong side.


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