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Club Spotlight
The Israeli Roadster Club

The story of the Miata in Israel and The Israeli Roadster Club

By Avi Waizel

The Land Of Israel is known as the Biblical crest for the three main believes. However, as a young state fighting for its daily survival, Motoring in general and Miata owning in particular, are seen here as vague conduct and inappropriate behavior. In such harsh socioeconomic environment, The Israeli Roadster Club flourishes. Like a lone Sabra bush in the Negev Dessert, alone with no support whatsoever from our hostile Mazda Importer, some 450 Miata owners are roaming the roads of Israel. The IRC has over 60 paying members and a flourishing site www.roadster.co.il (In Hebrew), with over 150 visitors weekly in the Forum.

My personal Miata story is as boring as any middle aged American transpiring to his motor youth days in his beloved MGB/Triumph Spitfire/Lotus Élan.. It is the same old story.

Now, imagine that story evolving in another environment. Not in the 'land of the free', but in a land burdened with security problems, where everyday its citizens are glued to News Casts every half an hour, where most of its recourses are supporting its Army guarding its borders from hostile neighbors, where cars are taxed 145%, where Motor Sports are illegal, where any mechanical or structural modification to your vehicle is illegal, where the national road system is as bad as in East Europe, where no Motor culture has evolved over the years, where financially hard strained families straggling to get over the month are buying cars as one would buy an investment in real estate, i.e. a 1600 cc Japanese Automatic sedan with A/C and electric windows, preferably in White or Silver.

The story of my Miata and the evolvement of The Israeli Roadster Club , is the story of the Miata in Israel.

Born to a family in the car business, I had my motoring awareness evolving over the years, in which I had my share of driving, even owning, Cabriolets and Roadsters in the Seventies. When the Miata was introduced in 1989, I was in frenzy. All of my dreams suddenly came true. Alas, in a state where 70% of the cars sold to the public, are sold through rental/leasing channels… In a state where 95% of the imported cars are Automatic… Where the most popular single model is the Mazda 323 (Protégé)… The Mazda Importer in Israel did not even consider importing the Miata.

In 1993, in a Press Conference in Japan, an Israeli reporter asked Mazda's Chairman with a lot of Chutzpa, why the Miata is not imported to Israel. In a fringe of a moment, the order was given. The Miata beached the Port of Eilat in 1995 and was greeted with flowers and a local musician's band by the Israeli AUTO Magazine. That surrealistic picture is still burned in my memory.

Since owning a Roadster in Israel automatically classifies one as crazy, lunatic or a Playboy, few cars were sold, and in 1996 no more cars were imported. The import was resumed in 1997 and ended in 1998 with the last of the NA series. Some 100 cars were sold in those days and the last batch was offered as a prize by a Lingerie firm…

Being a young family man than, with 2 kids, I could not afford the Miata. My needs were different- I needed a large family car… but you are familiar with that story already.

In 2002, as Motor culture evolved, as Israelis prospered, Miata aficionados began pressing Delek Motors, the Mazda Importer in Israel, to resume the import. After a lot of haggle and public pressure, the Miata returned in 2003 in…. an Automatic version! The Motor Forums were screaming to hell, nine months later the Miata, in a Sport Euro spec, came equipped with a 6 speeds manual gearbox. Till the end of the NB series, 150 cars were sold, half of them with manual gearboxes. The NC has arrived to the Holy Land in the end of 2005 and is selling comparably well, at some 50-100 units a year, all 6 speeds manuals soft top and PRHT.

I fulfilled my personal dream in 2005, as I bought my 2005 year model Miata NB, second hand, from a poor soul that has lost his driving license and cried his heart out as he handed me the keys.

The Israeli Roadster Club was in low gear since 2003. When I joined the club, I inspired my colleagues to resume its activities. We formed a joined 4 member managing comity and started to reorganize the club web site, have organized events, monthly meetings, tours, a new club logo, sold hats etc. We formed a bond with the only Mazda garage in Israel, that has the will and capability to service our cars with the love and attention that they deserve - 'Rechev David' in Tel Aviv. We have participated in rallies in favor of a Motor Sport law and bonded relations with our friends in the UK club and here in the miata.net forums.

The local importer does not offer to sell us any accessories, he bans any contact with the club, Miata parts prices are sky high and no technical information regarding TSB-s is offered. In such a hostile Mazda environment, I had to plea for help from abroad.
No official Mazda official has responded to my letters. Not from the US, not from Europe, none from Japan. They have all forwarded me to our local Importer. A dead end.

It is in miata.net forums that I have revealed what differs Roadster owners in general and Miata owners in particular. Since Delek Motors in Israel has alienated themselves from us, I turned for help in acquiring banners and various Mazda promo stuff form our friends in miata.net . There is a special bond between Miata lovers that is international and interracial; my plea for help was responded whole heartedly by miata.net Forum members and their affiliated clubs, and our dear friend Erica from Massachusetts brought it all over to Israel to our grateful hands.

I have a dream- I envision 250 MX-5 Miata-s park in a formation on a huge green pasture, flags with Mazda, Mx-5 and our club logo waving in the wind all around, a huge white tent where all members of the club and their families seat round tables and all having a good time together. My friend Gerry Nichols, from the British MX-5 Owners club, once wrote to me- "If everyone in the world had a Roadster, (and the money to buy one), we wouldn't have half the problems that the world endures. Maybe some less 'road rage' too". All I have add to this is- Amen!

I thank my friends and collogue from the Israeli Roadster Club- Yair, Avi, Gil and Yoav. I thank all our friends and supporters from USA- Skip Cannon (Peak to Peak Miata club), Joe (Miata KnobMeister), Jeff J. (Del-Val Miata Club), Steven Hess and a warm hug and kisses to the lovely Erica. I also thank our friends and supporters from UK- Gerry and Clive (MX5OC) and from Israel- The Dauba family- David, Gil, Rami and Danny Hollander from 'Rechev David' Mazda-Ford Garage.

 


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