Artwork by: Rebecca Zook

Hey D.J.! Play some slow songs!

An Editorial by David F. DeNuzzo

SpeedsterO.K. Where was I? Ah yes... I was enjoying my fast food lunch today (oh boy!) and thinking about Miatas, Miata clubs, newsletters, the internet, etc. I guess it must just be something about the effects of fast food to my thought processes! Anyway, I was pondering how the Miata is different than other cars, and Miata clubs are different from other car clubs. I think one of the key ingredients to the Miata's success has been its multi-faceted personality. The Miata is both sporty and laid-back, and can be driven for excitement or relaxation (or both at once!). It's that Kansei thing. I was thinking about the telephone survey that Mazda's ran last year with the 'M'-Speedster. They seemed to be trying to pin the Miata into one category, and that just won't do. The Miata is many things to many people. This multi-faceted personality has served Miata enthusiasts well, and kept Miata clubs and on-line forumns filled with interesting activities and discussions.

SpeedieWhen the Miata Club of America was first started, there was another group interested in starting a Miata Club for SCCA racers. These guys instead joined the MCA to start their racing program, and this program remains a part of the Miata Club today. Indeed, racing and race track activities seem to be a big part of the Miata Club, especially in the Midwest and South. Consider that most National rallyes, including the upcoming Miata Games, have taken place at race tracks. The Miata is a sporty car, still one of the best handling in the world, and a kick to drive fast on twisty roads. And it's a given fact that racing improves the breed. So, what's my point? To many people, this is what the Miata is. But it is also much more! And racing - and fast driving - is not enough to keep Miata enthusiasm going. There has to be some slow dancing too.

ButchSo here's another way to look at the Miata dichotomy. The Miata is fun to drive because sometimes you can drive faster than other cars, and other times you can drive slower than the other cars! Slower? Sure. While the masses are confined by their self-imposed restrictions to hurtling down the Interstate in their closed capsules, worrying about being late and getting a speeding ticket, "open"-minded Miata owners can take scenic back roads and explore new places. We can stop in small, forgotten towns, eat in hole-in-the-wall diners, smell the tree blossoms, feel the sun on our cheeks, the wind in our hair. On a foggy morning we can feel the mist on our face, and in a light snow we can really see the flakes coming down. Or we can take the surface streets across town, watch and wave as the other cars go by, notice and be noticed. We are not anonymous!

CoupeMazda's M2 design studio made some coupe Miatas a few years back. The Miata designers at Mazda R&D in Irvine were not pleased with the results and decided to do their own version. Thus the 'M'-Coupe, this year's Miata show car. Mazda may or may not sell it in this country. Some might buy it for its sportiness, it's race-track prowess, but in my mind much of the fun will be gone. Such a car would be a modern day version of a 240Z, or perhaps a miniature RX-7. Both cars were very popular in their time, and sold well. Both are still raced today by amateurs and professionals on race tracks around the country - or down twisty mountain roads. And the national car clubs for each of these makes is hopelessly extinct. Local pockets remain, but the fire or their enthusiasm has been reduced to a few smouldering embers. The cars were changed, "got serious". They just weren't fun any more. And they never learned to slow dance.