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Wednesday, 01 February 2017


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my" roadster" cruises effortlessly on the highway at 95mph but more importantly is capable of driving on "roads" like this one in Utah. Its a 3/4 ton GMC pick-up! photo here.....


I rather fancy Audi TTs.

I internet shopped this morning and used Miata's seem there is a lot of buck as they say.

"I don't do enough gear posts ;-)"

Maybe you just need to switch gears ;-)

They're getting there. Another few tries and they might equal my 2001 Honda S2000. :-)

I can't imagine getting into (or out of) a Corvette wearing stiletto heels let alone working the clutch. But I would certainly be attracted to a woman who could.

Way back in the early 70s I bought a used Fiat 850 Spider -- not the more popular 124, but the smaller 850, in bright orange (which you can gaze up here: bit.ly/2kSXfQS though it looks yellow in that Polaroid ). If it hadn't literally broken down every two or three hundred miles, I would have loved loved loved that car. But what I learned was, even a tiny 50 horsepower engine can drive a car like crazy if it's an itty bitty car.

A muscle car fanatic friend of mine named Rhonda owned a big fat Camaro with some kind of massive engine, and one day she took my little Fiat out for a spin. It completely knocked her out. She had no idea. Not that she sold the Camaro.

While we're fantasizing- kinda like a Miata on 'roids...


Isn't the demographic for most "sports cars" middle aged bearded dudes?

I was down in Annapolis Maryland last summer and they had some kind of car club thing going on and almost all the drivers were MABDs...

OK, OK, responding to your comment about taking a Ferrari first and "tooling" around with it for awhile before selling. I can almost - just almost - agree. However, I remember so vividly watching a rare silver colored 4.7 liter V-12 Ferrari Milla Miglia (driven by Dan Gurney) roar down the long Riverside Raceway straightaway with such ferocious power and sound that, 55+ years later, it still reverberates in me.

My problem is deciding between 2 wonderful choices: Either sell it and buy all the Miata's I could ever want OR just take it out of the garage once a month, pick my street to roar down, and pay my monthly jail bail :-)

Subaru and partner Toyota/Scion took a shot at the same basic kind of car (light, chuckable, two seater, manual transmission, no frills) in the BRZ/FR-S/Toyota 86 twins. They seem great on paper, and I do like the looks of the cars a lot. Yet somehow they didn't quite pull it off; the lightning didn't strike. The lack of torque seems to be a killer, as the cars just feel slower than they are, despite the excellent handling and decent brakes. And the interior just feels cheap. I looked at 'em several times, but never was tempted to buy one. Still ended up with another Subaru STi, which is a total blast to drive, even in winter, but it's basically too fast for civilian roads. Plan on budgeting for speeding tickets.

["Lightning didn't strike." Perfect description of the 86 twins. I felt the same way. Loved it, drove it, loved it no more. --Mike

P.S. I think they were designed for on-track drifting. There's a niche within a niche!]

Sold my 1992 (to my everlasting regret) after being nearly run over by a Ford Expedition driven by a someone of quite small stature who had not seen me pull up to their left at a red light... But what a fun car it was, although not practical: my camera bag and small duffel barely fit in the trunk... May have to go for the Mustang (my first car was a 68).

That "p**l" descriptor, Mike had me searching my untidy mind for an off-colour four letter word. Maybe it is.

Your Miata with the V8 will be blowing drive trains every other month. A lot like the Sunbeam Tiger with the 289 V8 - too much power for the light car.
Me - I'll take a Triumph TR6. A beauty that remains timeless. Second choice is an XK-e Jaguar if only I could keep the carbs set right. Both in British Racing Green.
Then drive around with a Fuji X-Pro2.

[Flyin' Miata rebuilds the whole drivetrain, from a Caddy differential to Corvette engine mounts. Nothing will blow on it. But then, for $80k, nothing should. --Mike]

Check out the Fiat 124 Spider (built on the same line as the Miata):


Full disclosure -- I get an employee discount, and that includes a 2-yr unlimited mileage lease, with all maintenance and insurance covered.

If I wasn't already driving a RAM 3500 crew cab long bed Longhorn edition dually pickup truck, I'd be driving one of those.

I had a 1990 MX-5 NA, as known here. I sold to to friends who still have it and love it. I live in the inner city and park on the street so a soft top is no good; the RF is being considered seriously...

I'd prefer the Boxster (or, for better looks, the Cayman). But I wouldn't sell off an Aston (in stick form) if someone gave me one.

Long before my current life as a bearded (and happily married) middle-aged dude, I briefly dated a very cute Hapa Haole girl when I lived in Hawaii, back in the 90s. She drove a red Miata (manual transmission, of course), which I got to drive a time or two. While I've always been too practical and too poor to buy a convertible, I do have very fond memories of that car. It really was a joy to drive, and Hawaii was the perfect place for it.

I can sum up my feelings about this in just eight characters:


Well ... nine characters if you include the exclamation mark.

I came to the Miata by way of the Spec race class. I had no inclination towards them as I viewed them as a bit feminine myself, but the spec class was/is great for these cars. Big fields, competitive driver-focus with (theoretically) equal cars, lower (theoretical) costs, and so on.

I'll tell you, though, that after getting the car, for the two months I might have driven it prior to gutting it out, installing a cage and other safety gear, as well as a stiff suspension (thereby ruining it for any use off of a track), it was like heaven in a driving experience. I drove my father's Mazdaspeed version of the NB later, and that was just heavenly-er. I have a hard time conceptualizing a car nearer to perfect. I was, and still am, shocked at my reversal of attitude toward the Miata.

I daydream occasionally of getting another Miata to replace my daily car. Alas, I'm in that middle-aged group sans beard, and I have a child to ferry around often. Still, it's tempting.

Long live the Miata, so I can keep those daydreams fed.

Oh, and I'd get the convertible too. That RF is neat and all, but it's just not the same animal to me.

Chris H

"Middle-aged dudes with beards. That's the Miata's demographic."

Check, check. If you're gonna have a midlife crisis, and are a thrifty Bohunk...

Nordic Green 2006 NC1 here, soft top of course.

Mike,you mentioned self driving cars. I live just outside of Baltimore MD. I put a little over 40,000 miles a year on my Honda Odyssey.I sell printing plates & cutting dies to the corrugated packaging industry. I'm on I95 and I get down to Maryland's Eastern Shore. I'm wondering how the self drivers are going to fare among all the crazy aggressive drivers out there.Seriously, it could be a terrifying experience. I also think self driving cars will inhibit wandering around. Sometimes I'll take a side road just to see if I can find something interesting to photograph. I plan on not buying a self driver. Does not appeal to me at all.

I'm on my third MX5. I prefer the MK1 and 2 to the others and I just can't see myself going for either of the later two models. I think they've just moved too far from the simplicity of the MK1 and 2.

I've had other roadsters including Lotus Elan SE and Elise, Boxster, SLK and old British roadsters but the MX5 is my favourite as I just can't give old British roadsters the love and attention they need.

I bought a 2003 model (NB) in 2006 after my wife died. It and my two daughters were about the only thing during that time frame that could make me smile. I still own it and it still makes me smile.

I also love roadsters - had a '57 TR3 and a "72 MGB. Different type of toy than the Miata but lots of fun to drive. The only Mazdas that I've ever driven were the two Millenias that I owned.The first had a turbo and was pretty quick, the second was supercharged (Miller engine?)and really flew. They were both well made and drove quite well. Impressive cars that died on the marketing end.

I still think it strange you call that thing a Miata. It's not a Miata, it's a Mazda MX5. At least that is what every one I've ever seems to have written in big silver type on the back.


I've never driven a MX5 but I note that while they look cute they appear for some reason to be oddly noisy. Why's that? Do they come fitted with one of those Max Power exhaust back boxes that are called "silencers" but do the opposite? I have a real thing about noisy, growly sounding cars, don't like them for some reason. TVRs seem to be the worst - all the engine power must be converted to sound.

The MX5 must have hit the road around the same time as another roadster, the MG F. I've never driven one of those either, although they look prettier to my eye. Anyone here compared them? What are they like?

Oh my... that Flyin' Miata video got some sort of teenage hormone rush going on in me! Irrational, emotional, and irresistible! I've got to start saving up those pennies to get my 80 large! Fun post, Mike.

Ah, roadsters. The closest I've come to driving one on a regular basis was a series of inexpensive coupes. (Also a dying product category.) And a lightweight Saturn sedan with a fun five speed transmission. Every time I wished it was a convertible. Definitely the most fun was driving comparatively slowly on quiet country roads in the early spring or mid-fall, early in the morning or in the sunset golden hour, with the windows down, and enough moisture in the air for mist or evanescent fat snowflakes.

My first was an incredibly high milage nameless Nissan/Datsun. Something like the 280zx, but I'm not sure which, since nothing on Hemmings or Wikipedia matches. I know I didn't dream it all, I remember the repair bills quite distinctly! Five speeds, and low oil pressure all the time. Oh, and fake air vents on the hood. I thought that was neat: it was trying so hard to be cool by faking it, that it zoomed right past uncool and reached a level of unconscious earnestness that was absolutely admirable. That kind of earnest, burning passion, to burst all barriers and reach excellence I now recognize as a feature of parts of Japanese culture. I respect it.

Oh, and it was such fun to drive! Arigatou, nameless Datsun coupe-san. You served me well, I hope you are at peace, wherever you are.

My first exposure was a neighbor's Bug-Eye in '62. That a Miata exists now, is affordable, available and as good as it is, is something people didn't even dream about back then.

Shooting sports cars, road and race, is about as much fun as you can have with cameras. The paddocks and garages. !!! You've got Watkins Glen and Lime Rock, don't you? There used to be big vintage sports car racing events at both. Irresistable.

Which Ferrari?

I've heard it said that Miata's are the motorcycles of the car world. I get that and can appreciate the appeal but I will continue to opt for an actual motorcycle for as long as I can still swing a leg over. Of course, motorcycles are also the domain of the gray beard. The average age of an American motorcyclist is in the high 40's these days. My bike of choice is an adventure bike (the pickup truck of the motorcycle world) and that demographic is even older...dagnabbit!

Speaking of Ferrari, here's some video of a guy (Fabian Oefner) slinging paint all over a 2015 California T in an artsy way with Ferrari's blessing.


Back in the first blooming affluence of my book-writing days -- that is, around the year 2000 -- I fell in love with, and even test-drove, a BMW Z8, which has to be among the best-looking, most drivable roadsters ever built by anybody, including Ferrari. But, I choked at the price -- $128,000. I was affluent, not rich. The Z8s were only made for a few years, and today, a low mileage version of the Z8 I drove will sell for north of $200,000. I could have had my cake and eaten it too, if I wasn't such a chicken heart.

[Yeah but didn't Clarkson on Top Gear slag the Z8 Alpina, saying it was like driving a garbage truck? So you could look at it like you dodged a bullet and passed on a lemon.

Hey, I'm just trying to help. --Mike]

(You even noticed that a chicken heart, a lily liver and yellow belly are all the same thing?)

I don't remember, even after thinking about it a bit, ever having seen a Mazda Miata commercial on TV or in a magazine.
If I have, it was so many years ago that it amounts to never seeing an ad for one.
I'm an American that doesn't watch much TV, and I don't read very many magazines.
There are many things I know of in the world just because there's a lot of exposure of that thing or person, not because I have sought them out in any way.
I'd think Mazda could spend a small or modest amount on advertisements for Miatas and sell a whole lot more of them.
I'm also tall and big enough that to drive one, I'd have to be able to take myself apart and use both seats to fit in one.
It does make me smile that they still are being manufactured, because seeing a roadster always makes me smile.
Miatas/roadsters seem to be the very essence of the love of driving.
My $0.02.

...Middle-aged dudes with beards...

Does this mean the beard is back, Mike, along with the Miata obsession?

"Middle-aged dudes with beards. That's the Miata's demographic."

NOW I see why you posted this. That is your typical reader demographic, too! :-)

Nothing like wringing the neck of a small car with reasonable power and decent road holding on a country road!

Never had an MX5, but long an admirer of them.

Cheers, Geoff

Reminds me so much of my MX-3, except that the top wouldn't do tricks like that.

I've driven both the new Miata and the new Fiat 124. (Test-driving cars I have no intention of buying is sort of a hobby of mine. I mean, how else am I going to get behind the wheel of a Maserati?) Although jointly engineered on the same platform, the two cars actually feel pretty different. The Miata is a bit tauter and firmer; the Fiat is a bit plusher and more comfortable, but still eminently tossable -- more the grand tourer of the two, it feels bigger, whereas the Miata is closer to the ideal of the point and shoot sports car. I'm torn on the looks -- I like 'em both, and as I owned an original Fiat Spyder for many years and currently own an NC Miata, my loyalties are seriously divided!

The fast back RF version looks surprisingly good in the flesh, and the roof is entertaining when opening and closing, but the C-pillar does seriously restrict outward vision. And you don't get the full convertible experience. And it adds mechanical complexity, weight and cost. I'll pass.

For the record: male, middle-aged, no beard. (When does "middle-aged" become merely "old"? I think we baby boomers have been moving the goal posts on this one.)

[This might be too geeky an answer to that last question, but the DSM, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of the psychiatric profession, used to define middle age as 40 to 60. But with people living, and staying healthier, longer, they revised it upwards to 45-65 (I think with the IV edition? Not sure). So old age now technically starts when you turn 66. --Mike]

"Middle-aged dudes with beards. That's the Miata's demographic."

Hmmm... had one (MX-5) when I had slightly more hair. I got one of the first ones, kept it for about 7 years and then gave it to my daughter. A delightful car, but things were a tight fit for a weekend getaway and while the balance between power and grip was very good, sometimes there wasn't enough of either.

I've often had sports cars, and the one that strikes the best balance for me overall right now is the Boxster. I got a four year old one for a fair bit less than a new MX-5, and after 6 years of ownership and minimal maintenance cost it's gone down in value by about $4000. It has enough space for all the luggage two people will need for a couple of weeks plus cameras, and going through the Canadian Rockies in the summer with the top down is amazing. There, the MX-5 struggled a bit.

My dad had a 1990 NA for about 20 years. I drove it many times, and I characterized it as "handing like a frightened chipmunk", and having a suspension "so stiff that not only will you feel it if you run over a dime, but you'll know whether it was on heads or tails." I really liked driving it (although not on snow...), but it is not the car for me. For one thing, I don't like convertibles. (I know, I suck, but I really hate wind!) For another, it was just too damn small! I'm 6'4" and (nowadays) about 220 lbs; my head would protrude over the top of the windscreen when the top was down and my knees landed on either side of the steering wheel. You want "go-karty"? Well, for me, the experience was much like driving a go-kart!

Good-looking car, but electronically and mechanically an awful lot to go wrong. Just hope you've got a good local service agent. But then, the last roadster I had was an MG Midget in the 1970s...

[And the MG Midget had very little to go wrong yet it always did! ;-)

I can't fit in a Midget, sadly. --Mike]

In Europe we were dedicated to stick shifts, one reason being that Automatics absorbed a lot of power. Not any more, 9 speed autos are so smooth and so much better than stick shifts that we are moving to autos in droves. The same happened with diesels, they are so much more gutsy and powerful than petrol (gasoline) engines that we have switched to them. Try a Mercedes or BMW diesel and you might be surprised at how smooth and powerful they are.
The problem with sports cars is that they are not the lightweight vehicles they used to be; regulations have made them bigger and heavier. However an MG TD would be my choice or, maybe the original Fiat 124. Oh, okay could also be an original Lotus Elan.

Sorry, Mike. It does not have the engine at the right end. Have you ever driven a 911? I understand that the Cayman et al. are great cars, but if you haven't done so, you owe it to yourself to at least once try a car with the engine at the "wrong" end, the end where it provides the power directly at the back and pushes you through the corners. There is good, and then there is fun, and once you've had fun, reasonable won't cut it.

I had a slightly warmed over 1800cc Fiat 124 Spyder which I loved. I raced it in various classic car events back in the day, it was outstanding on the twisty bits.

I finally traded it with a furniture maker for a kitchen and bathroom renovation. Would love another.

The early MX5 as they are rightly known in the English speaking world :-) has tempted me but it's a bit too perfect.

It needs an oil leak or something.

Personally I would go for an original SLK230 Kompressor from the Clinton aera. Lovely cruiser and with 230K engine a great drive wich combines good mileage with good looks and is quite affordeble these days (a nephew of mine picked one up for 4.600 euro and drives for 4 years without problems on a daily basis).

Later the model got too sporty....fine on French open roads but in German inner cities (with tarmac that looks stolen or on loan from Bulgaria) way to stiff a ride to enjoy.

Greets, Ed.

"The other 14% must be the type of femmes fatales who wear stiletto heels at bars and could hurt you."

LOL, that's so funny. I knew a woman like that once. She drove a Mazda Miata. Not kidding.

My wife was thinking of buying a motorcycle to go on rides with me. I told her to consider a Miata. She's dead set on one now. It's only a matter of time.

You've hit my other nerve center Mike. I have a one owner (me) 1990 that I ordered and waited for till a stripped one arrived at the dealer. No power windows, no power steering, no A/C, steel wheels, no radio, and I still had to pay a premium of a couple hundred. Dealers in So. Ca. were charging at least one thou over sticker, and there were waiting lists. The levels of enthusiasm were unequalled, in my experience ... clubs, meets, a dozen speed and accessory shops in nearby O.C. Over the years, like most original owners, I've installed a bunch of (legal) mods, mostly suspension and intake-outflow. In the first year "SoCalm" (the club) actually got to run a couple of parade laps at Laguna Seca (now Mazda Raceway).

Mazda has well earned our loyalty. They're a unique carmaker, always willing to try the unusual, open to customer suggestions, and even their SUVs have a bit of sporting blood in them.

Many club cars were customized to one degree or another, and for many years we were a community. But the concept was always " a light ragtop with minimum frills" and at the time there was a hue and cry when Mazda issued its first few Miata automatics.
The ability to shift "properly" (smoothly, by ear) has always been a source of pride in sports car land, and the Miata's shift mechanism has been described as one of the best - ever. I'm pretty much past middle age, (no beard) and the Miata still feels like it's part of my rear end .... think about changing direction, and she does, take a proper line through the twisties and few cars can keep up, 90k miles with the original clutch.

Thanks Mike!

Mike, you love sports cars - old, new and racing too, I guess. Do some things on Klemantaski, Lamm and Zwart.

I'm actually more interested in those femmes fatales you mentioned, who could hurt you. Just below them, in terms of ranking, is the right camera, and just below that, the right car.

The Miata is compelling. I'd want it with the small-block V8 from the Corvette, but also with a roll bar and five point restraint, since I'm not particularly suicidal. A track nearby would be nice, now that I think about it. Might as well go with a budget for tires, too, since I'm in mid-fantasy.

How about the new Fiat Roadster - built on the Miata platform and originally meant to be an Alfa Romeo! Have you driven the Alfa Competitzione 4C? Unfortunately my back won't allow me to own any of them.

Any road in the UK worth driving fast on has 200 speed cameras. A Miata is as much use/fun as a skateboard.

I can only afford 1 car, so it has to do everything. Touring, commuting, trips to the recycling centre with old mattresses...

Fortunately, I only use a camera for fun, so I can use one I actually like. It does not have to serve any practical purpose.

My first car was a TR3 and I also have a TR6 in my past so I am a roadster guy more or less.
I have always admired Miatas but the new one has me flat out drooling. I don't think Ferrari makes anything prettier but that's just me.

I prefer rusty old Italian roadsters myself, but I completely agree – you gotta go topless.

Agreed that the s2000 is the roadster to have, and what the miata would be when or if it gets serious. Until then they are all gutless with no torque, an FM turbo kit is basically required to make it interesting, at a minimum.

And it has never been a halo car for mazda, that honor has always belonged to the rotary sports cars (rx7, rx8, new rx concept car, etc.)

I always considered a Miata the appropriate successor to the MGB,
as a "fun" vehicle. In my much younger days was as tall as i am now, (6;8") tall however i was also about 175 pounds less in weight, and could just fit into a friend's ancient however fully restored MGB. It was fun to drive and my knees never contacted the dash when shifting. That MG died a horrible death in a garage fire which took my friend's house as well. Natural gas leaks do that. He replaced it with the Miata NB.. I could not fit, either behind the wheel or in the passenger seat. The car was lovely, the sizing not. O now drive a 5 year old Honda Ridgeline truck, with the driver's seat set back six inches so i can just fit. Slush box transmission too. And before you ask, the big three automotive company's pickups have far less room for me than the Honda truck. At 70years of age and as I keep my vehicles for ten years or more; this may well be my last motor vehicle. I still think the Miata is cute.

Middle-aged (as long as we're talking about the moving line), bearded (at least in the winter) and a 4th time Miata owner. Fell in love all over again with the 2016.

The flip top is perfect for me. It actually cured my frozen-shoulder.. J

Road trips are fun again! Thanks Mazda.

Interesting to speculate about what future kids might think, once most cars are all "driverless" and you just get in and tell them where to go..

"What Grandad, you use to ``drive'' cars? And enjoy it?!?!"

I'd take the Ferrari, sell it, and buy some Leicas ;)

The Fiat Spyder is essentially a Miata, with a turbo-charged engine.

As a really old (75), bearded, 2007 NC Miata owner the most interesting thing about it is that the longer I have driven it the faster and harder I drive it. Maybe the closer you are to death the less you fear it.

It's like a "British Sportscar", that works!

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