I have owned a lot of vehicles over the years and before I met my wife, I almost always owned at least two vehicles. Usually a daily driver and some sort of project that served as a back up vehicle. Life happened though and after selling off my last project prior to us moving to Kentucky many years ago I hadn’t owned a second vehicle in a long time. It also took me a long time to convince my wife why exactly I needed two vehicles, because not being into cars like myself – it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I will admit, being a car enthusiast is a very expensive hobby to venture in to, but it’s an addiction i’ve never been able to shake unfortunately.
I finally managed to make a sensible explanation to my wife and justify to her as to why I should have a second vehicle again. I don’t remember exactly what that speech was at the time, but somehow managed to pull it off at the time. Now, don’t take this as my wife is overbearing and doesn’t let me buy anything cool. She’s awesome. She is just well aware of my addiction and knows to not leave me unsupervised, with money around vehicles that are available for purchase. I am also aware of my addiction, which is why i’m thankful that my wife knows when to yank the leash sometimes and give me a reality check. Now that we have that out of the way, lets continue.
I began shopping for my next project the same day. I was driving a 2005 Ford Five Hundred at the time, which was an awesome daily driver and trip vehicle but it was about as interesting as watching paint dry. I was in desperate need of something fun and interesting. I started shopping for the obvious things – Mustangs, Camaros, Firebirds and the typical cheap muscle cars. I’ve owned 3 Mustangs so I was perfectly comfortable with owning another one. I also tried to track down another Mazda RX7 because I am a glutton for punishment and rotary engines are the perfect solution for that. I wanted something fast-ish and loud. A couple of weeks later I ended up running across something I had never really considered owning myself – A Miata.
A friend of ours was selling his Miata to make room at the house. It had been sitting a lot and he wanted it to go to someone who would actually make use of it. It was a 1990 Mazda Miata MX-5 equipped with the 1.6L 4 cylinder engine and mated to a 5 Speed manual transmission. The paint was a little rough and had some patina, along with some minor body damage. The top needed to be replaced as well. The positives to it though were that it already had a roll bar installed, racing seats and harnesses, a butterfly brace, Koni Coilovers, full cat-back exhaust, and a set of Konig 15×8 wheels with some sticky tires mounted on them. It had a couple of minor mechanical issues, but those were of little concern for me.
The biggest issue here was myself – I’m 6’3″ and at the time probably weighed around 270lbs. I honestly thought I had no chance of fitting at all, because i’m not a little guy. Shockingly though, I climbed inside and fit way better than I expected. Likely due to the position of the racing bucket. I went for a test drive and immediately began to giggle like a little kid. It was ridiculously fun to drive for being so small and so underpowered. So I went back, we negotiated terms and a price for purchase and I drove it home. I had purchased a vehicle I never thought I would.
I quickly started evaluating what it needed and ordering parts for it. Soon after I replaced the top on it with a new one and replaced the seats with some OEM seats from a junkyard because the racing seats just weren’t practical for my use. I also replaced the steering wheel and shift knob because the previous owner wanted the ones on it back. Next I started going through all of the mechanical components on it. I replaced the brakes on all four corners, fixed an exhaust leak, fixed a coolant leak, replaced the timing belt and tensioners, all of the belts and hoses and after that it seemed like it had been sorted pretty well. I had a few issues with an oil leak I could never sort out and eventually replaced the clutch in it but I still enjoyed a few months of driving it. The car was everything that everyone had always told me – Tons of fun for cheap. The problem was, I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I would have liked because I didn’t always have time to go out in it by myself and I couldn’t take the family along with me in it.
The next year I began to repair the body on it and started preparing it for paint. I was going to respray it red, even though I really wanted to change the color to something else. I didn’t want to have to respray the door jambs and everything else though, so I wanted to keep it simple. After working on the body extensively, I uncovered lots of hidden poorly done body work and underneath it – you guessed it – RUST. I taught myself how to fabricate and weld on this car, so I was able to repair the damage myself and it looked decent. I prepped the body and finally sprayed it in primer, then life happened and I had to put it away in storage for a while.
During the time it was in storage, I started to realize that once again I needed something a little more practical. I had driven the Miata on the interstate a few times since we had moved and it honestly frightened me to drive on the interstate due to how small it was and how insane everyone in this area drives. We also had our second child on the way and having a 2-seat roadster just didn’t make a lot of sense. I drove it a couple of times after coming to this realization and just felt like the magic wasn’t there anymore either. I didn’t really feel like I was attached to it and it seemed like the time to let it go on to someone else. I put it up for sale as is and ended up selling it to someone I knew out of state.
While my oldest daughter was a little sad to see it go, I was not one bit. I enjoyed the experience of owning a Miata but even three years later – I still do not miss it at all. It was fun to drive, but it literally was useful for nothing but going for a drive or taking it to a track. Over the years I have gotten far more joy from 4 seater coupes than I have 2 seater sports cars or roadsters. This was no different in the end. I understand why people love Miata’s so much and I can finally say I got to experience that, but it’s not something I have felt the need to experience again since. Maybe for some the answer is always Miata and maybe i’m just the weird one that it really was not.
Now don’t get me wrong here – Miata’s are great vehicles that have endless amounts of potential for such a small car. You can turbocharge them, supercharge them, swap a bigger engine into them, use them as a racecar, use them as a fun cruiser, and the list goes on and on. The aftermarket support for them is absolutely insane. The problem is they’re getting to the point where they’re harder to buy cheap and even harder to find well cared for examples at a reasonable asking price. If you think you can live with such a vehicle though, I definitely do not discourage purchasing one at all.
That being said, I would be hard pressed to not think a C5 Corvette would be a far better investment in the end though if I were in the market for something with two seats. What do I know though? I always say buy the car that makes YOU happy – it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks in the end, because they aren’t paying for it or taking care of it. Life is too short to settle for a car that doesn’t put a smile on your face folks.