Congratulations to David (and Sophie) on the selection of The Little Blue Car as the February Miata of the Month!
Like many Miata owners; I knew I wanted one from the first time I saw the photos in the car magazines. But in late ’89 and early ’90, I couldn’t afford the gouging prices. So I waited. In early ’91, with a new job and the old Nissan Sentra paid off, I started looking again, this time in earnest. I had decided a base model with no options save air conditioning ( Alabama’s summer humidity is brutal) was all I needed. Calling all the dealers within 75 miles turned up nothing. One dealer about 50 miles away said he had a used one I might be interested in though. Used, ugh. Okay, I’ll come look.
It was a rainy, cold, March day in Florence, Alabama. I walked into the dealership, asked for the salesman I had spoken to… and there it was. Mariner blue, option package B, parked in the middle of the showroom with the top down. I walked over and got in. I had read all the reviews, all the hype. “Hand in glove”, “Horse and rider” etc. But it was true. It fit like my favorite shirt. I knew I was taking it home before I even drove it. I was told it had been traded in. A man had bought it for his wife and she didn’t like driving it. I could only assume she was some sort of subversive. After some offer-counter-offer exchanges a deal was made. So my 1990 Mariner blue, 5-speed, Miata with 1,200 (yes 1,200) miles on it came home with me for less than the sticker price of a new base model. The drive back to Huntsville, even in the rain, was a sweet taste of things to come.
That was fifteen years ago. The Little Blue Car, as we came to call it, has been my primary transportation most of those fifteen years. As of this writing it has traveled 272,800 miles. It is essentially still original: engine, body, interior all original. The transmission has been rebuilt, the alternator replaced, a CD player added and it’s almost ready for its third top. But I still get compliments and amazement that it is really that old and has that many miles.
Those miles have seen a honeymoon trip to North Carolina, visits to friends in Chicago, business trips across most of the Southeastern US, weekend drives through the rolling hills of southeast Tennessee, numerous trips to the family beach house on Florida’s Gulf coast and commutes through the traffic of Nashville TN, Huntsville and Birmingham Alabama.
On occasion, I drive by the Mazda lot and consider a newer one, but there are just too many memorable drives and too many stories to part with the ‘Little Blue Car’. Besides, I’m secretly hoping to see 500k on the odometer someday.
In 1996, we moved for my wife’s work to Northeast Alabama. We made friends with the local veterinarian who, when he learned we were looking for a dog, found one for us; a stray puppy that had been picked up on the courthouse square. A mixed breed, about 12 weeks old, our friend thought she would grow to about thirty pounds. She was perfect.
Spring rolled around and it was time to head to the beach. We had always taken the Miata to the beach. But now we had a new passenger, as my wife insisted on taking Sophie the dog. “I’ll hold her in my lap” my wife said. “300 miles?” I asked. But it was decided. The first hour was uneventful but then Sophie got restless. We’d stop to walk her but she just couldn’t stay still in Amy’s lap. Later, after the top had come up to avoid the heat of the day, Sophie put her paws on the console as if to get in my lap. When I deflected her with an elbow, she found herself standing on the armrest facing backward. A moment later she was on the rear shelf. She sat down and looked around, decided ‘this will do nicely’, and lay down. We have the three-window Robbins top, so she can see all around from back there. Since then, to this day, that has been her spot when the top’s up in the Miata. The looks on the faces of passing motorists, especially children, are priceless. And yes when the road is bumpy, her head really does go up and down like… well, like one of those dogs in the back window.
Will you be next?