“What’s the fastest car in the world? A rental car, of course!”
That old chestnut, the object example of truth lovingly wrapped in a cliché. We all know people who have purchased cars previously the property of a rental or loaner fleets. And not ironically, either; this wasn’t some vane nod toward empathy – like adopting an abused baby harp seal because you feel bad – or merely thumbing their nose at the Goddess of Nice Used Cars. They saw no problem in purchasing an automobile that had likely never known an easy day in its life.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a Camaro SS or a Dodge Avenger, an Audi A6 or a Kia Rio, a Nissan Quest or a Lincoln MK-whatever. Nobody has ever been nice to a rental car. Continue reading
So first things first: the MX-5 Miata is still here. Despite the fact that I went through the trouble and expense of listing the car on eBay, I decided to end the auction a few days early because I decided that I really do like the car too much to just flush it right away. Besides, as my (older than her years) 10 year-old daughter told me, “it’s the wrong season to sell a convertible. You should really wait until the weather is nicer.” Smart aleck. The main factor in the decision, though, was that I realized that I like Miatas in general, and they really are some of the most fun you can have for the money. Beyond that, I won’t soon find another in the same condition for the same money.
The rules for roadworthiness or safety inspections here in the U.S. vary widely by state (and even county, for that matter). The great State of Virginia has one of the more comprehensive state safety inspections, comparable to the British MoT and the German system. Inspectors (are supposed to) poke and prod, flick switches, test horns, wipers, lights, defrosters, check brake pad thickness, and generally look for anything that will make the vehicle unsafe to operate. Failure is not an option, and the only route for exemption is a special use tag such as an “antique vehicle” plate, which requires a vehicle be at least 25 years old, not the owners sole means of transportation, and places a restriction on the number and type of miles logged per year (type = commute, for example).
Fifteen years ago my wife and I were newlyweds and our first joint car purchase was a 1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata. Not long after buying the car, I joined the Miata club and started immediately receiving all kinds of catalogs from parts vendors like Moss Motors, MMMiata, and Performance Buyers Club (which is local to me at the time and also has a great Miata-oriented service and repair business). I immediately started circling things in catalogs that I wanted to enhance my Miata, and ended-up buying chrome vent rings, a cupholder to go in the place of the ashtray, stainless steel door sills, and a Racing Beat high-flow intake. We ended-up selling the car before I got any further, and I wasn’t really in a cash position to take the car to the next level anyway.
Having learned to drive in an old Alfa Romeo Spider, I have always been partial to two-seat roadsters. One of the best feelings in in my world is carving the back roads in a convertible with the top down, matching the revs on every downshift, and listening to the symphony emanating from the tailpipe. About two years ago I decided to recapture that feeling by buying another Spider just like the one I’d had before – but this time without the terminal rust. Nostalgia is a funny thing, however, and instead of a flood of memories from my youth with a Bryan Adams soundtrack behind them I spent the next several months trying to get an otherwise perfect Alfa to start, stop, and run properly. I remember thinking I should have just bought a Miata.
This past weekend on the heels of looking at two horrible German convertibles which were incidentally nothing like the pictures or the descriptions from the seller – shocking, I know – I went to look at a Miata that I spotted on Craigslist and just sounded like a good little car. With 82,000 miles, a relatively recent timing belt, water pump, and fluid change, and full books and records including the original window sticker. I bought it on the spot.
Around the late 1970s and early 1980s, small, affordable, two-seat sports cars were a dying breed. Sure, you could still spend tens of thousands of dollars on a new Porsche 911 and even more on a Ferrari, but sports cars for everymen were few and far between. Enter a small niche manufacturer out of Japan by the name of Mazda. Mazda was not the typical Japanese car company building what would become a mainstream empire similar to the likes of Toyota and Honda, rather the company embraced an image of sporting innovation with just a dash of quirky. Their biggest challenge to convention was their use of the Rotary engine, like you will find in this clean and inexpensive 1983 Mazda Rx-7
here on eBay in Bend, Oregon with a buy it now price of just $2700.