Well, I’ve had the new car for almost a month now; I’m ready to talk about it.
When I sold The Most Boring Car in the World, I didn’t have another one on deck to take it’s place. It was only through the generous loan of my father’s Ford/Mazda Truck that I was able to keep making the drive to work. That being said, I knew what car I was going to buy even if I hadn’t found it yet. Readers of the blog post linked above will be familiar with the 1996 Mazda I owned for about 2 months last summer, affectionately referred to as “The Mistake”. It was a mistake, but it gave me enough knowledge to feel confident that a better example of the breed was worth installing in my life.
So I was on the prowl for an MX-5. Originally I’d been looking for a first generation, planning to save myself a couple of thousand dollars. I like the first gens ((called NA’s because of their VIN codes, the second generation is an NB by comparison)) ; they have a great minimalistic approach. Very little will ever break on them because there is hardly anything on them that can break at all. However, my budget slightly expanded by the sale of the civic, I could aim just a little bit higher and moved my search to the NBs instead.
Then I bought this one, sight unseen, off eBay. This isn’t something I would necessarily recommend to other people. I had been doing local eBay searches with the idea of checking a car out myself before forking over any cash, but I’d expanded my search radius out to see if one might pop up in Austin, which in Texas terms is right next door ((200 miles away)) and is currently home to a good friend who my assist my travel and let me crash on his floor. There wasn’t anything in my target city, but a black 2001 did spring up in Houston. It was a good price; a grand less then similar local examples. It was black; a color I refuse to stop liking despite the number of days over a 100 we have every year. I hit ‘Buy it Now’.
I drove it for the first time five days later and it’s been my daily driver since. Weeks later, my opinion of it seems pretty stable so I think its fully formed. Let’s start by talking about what this car is and is not. This car is not a grand tourer; frankly it’s not even comfortable. At six foot, I’m ever so completely over the max height of anyone who should own one of these. I’ve got the seat all the way back against the sheet metal and my knees still wang on steering wheel. I’ve pulled the sun visors off so I don’t have to stop quite so impossibly far back from lights just to be able to see them change. The arm rests are hard, the road noise is deafening at speed, and I can’t load anything worth anything into the trunk.
But there’s a smile on my face nearly every time I drive it. Not having driven a stick shift since I was thirteen or fourteen, I was pretty nervous about switching. I’m not going to lie, it’s a hell of a pain most of the time. But dropping the transmission into second as I take a corner, then shifting my way up through the gears on the on ramp gets more fun every time I do it. The rear wheel drive isn’t something you notice until you try to turn in sharply at speed, something the MX-5’s chassis eats up with a spoon.
I used to listen to podcasts or audiobooks while driving, preferring something to distract me from the monotony of it. Suddenly I find myself back to rock and roll and punk, pleased with the way it enhances the driving experience. Drop the top, get a little heavy on the accelerator, and suddenly your drive from the office is smile inducing, instead of cringe worthy.
I do foresee a big problem going forward with this though. The likelihood of me being able to get away with an econobox in the future just fell through the floor. Maybe an S4 Avant or a GTI will be worth it, but I rather expect the car to replace this one to be no more practical.
Well, I suppose the new Corvette’s do have bigger trunks…