I have owned the 1993 Miata for exactly a week, and I am pleased to report that so far is so good with it – that is to say there have been no surprises so far, knock on wood. The unseasonably warm weather has made it especially easy to get some seat time in the Miata as God intended: with the top down. I’ve logged about 300 miles in the last five days, which is definitely some good car-driver bonding time.
Of course, a lot of that time has been spent pounding the back roads in the more rural parts of Northern Virginia. After a series of fairly squishy cars have graced my garage in recent times, the peppy and tight Miata is like my own private roller coaster. After what seemed like weeks of rain, Wednesday brought sun and warmer temperatures. As I wound around the narrow two-lanes between my house and my parents’, the Miata just seemed to keep on begging for more – and I obliged.
All was going swimmingly until up a hill and around a bend I was met with the sight of a tree halfway down across the road, my only escape (at probably about 60mph) being to swerve into the oncoming lane and skirt under it – which is what I did. That would have been fine, except that there was an unmarked police cruiser making good time in that lane heading toward me. He fortunately had the presence of mind to observe the situation and stop just tin time to watch me lock up all four wheels in a blaze of sound, smoke and smell right in front of him. Now I don’t know if it was the fact that the road should have been closed and it wasn’t or because he thought I’d probably already had enough of a scare, but he just stared me down as I hung my head in shame and sheepishly made my way past him. Nothing more. Thank you, officer.
Thursday brought a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat, and a good ride in the afternoon with #1 daughter Emma who at ten years old is learning the workings of a manual gearbox. Start ’em young, I say! Friday was more of the same, and then Saturday she and I took the car out to the weekly local Cars and Coffee which in Northern Virginia takes place in the quaint little hamlet of Great Falls at Katie’s Coffee House from 7am-9am every Saturday morning.
If you haven’t checked one of these Cars and Coffee events out in your local area, it’s an absolute must. A quick Google search leads me to believe that many decent-sized metropolitan or semi-metropolitan areas seem to have one now. I was fortunate to go to the original out in Southern California when it was still out at the Crystal Cove Shopping Center on the Pacific Coast Highway just south of Newport Beach, California, and was thrilled to learn about a year ago that the concept had made it to my own back yard. In short, C&C is a “run what you brung” sort of casual gathering of car guys and their cars who have a coffee (or three), and walk the parking lot checking out the cars and chatting up the owners. There is no fee, no structure, no judging, and no formality – the only limitations is generally space, so it’s wise to arrive early.
The Great Falls C&C attracts a lot of high-end hardware including late model Ferraris, Porsches, BMWs, and Mercedes, as well as some pretty cool vintage stuff. This week some of what caught my eye included a Lamborghini Countach, a General Lee replica, about six Cobras (one original, the rest reproductions of varying quality), a mint early swb 911, a late AMG-modified C126 coupe, and a Smart plug-in electric pre-production car. I’ll admit that I was a little skittish about bringing my little Japanese roadster to a party like this, but I was pleased to see three others there – another 1st generation model like mine and two of the current version. I was even more psyched when i saw people checking my car out and not pointing and laughing. Could it be that the original Miata is finally getting some respect? I wouldn’t go that far, but I had some good conversations with folks about Miatas being the most fun that three grand can buy.
Today was maintenance time. The Miata’s brake fluid and coolant are very clean, but the oil looked like something fresh from the La Brea Tar Pits. I still had a brand new oil filter left over from my last Miata and synthetic blend 10w-30 oil on the shelf, so I decided a change would be good. For the record, I am a big fan of the topsider oil extractor – stick a tube down the dipstick hole to the sump, suck the oil out – no rolling around on the ground, no wrestling with drain plugs, and (in my case) no overtorquing them when they go back on. The Miata’s oil filter, located just under the intake manifold, is also pretty easy to reach from above.
After a slew of big German cars with seemingly bottomless motors, the 3.2 quarts of oil that the Miata holds was a little disconcerting at first. I confirmed in the manual about three more times, and poured-in the new stuff. Fired-up the car, and checked for leaks. Seeing none, I decided the car needed one more little bit of exercise before being put away for the week. Surely we needed something at the grocery store, right?