COAL: 2003 Mazda Miata – A Welcome Gift

Not long after my girlfriend and I moved into our house, unrelated, my dad was looking around at options to replace his beloved but aging Mazda Miata. He had it pretty much since new, purchasing it in 2004 with very few miles on the clock but 14 years and 168,000 miles later – it was showing its age. One day, a suitable replacement Miata showed up on eBay so he bid early, thinking likely he’d get outbid. But in Ohio, in December, the challenger never came, so overnight he ended up with two Miatas and limited storage space to park these cars. Instead of the hassle of finding a buyer for his old car, he graciously gave it to us!

The day my parents purchased the car in 2004, now a defunct Mazda/Mitsubishi dealer in Rochester, MN.


Safe and sound inside my garage for the winter

We tucked the car away for the winter in our garage and dreamed of fun summer cruises. I was glad my girlfriend knew how to drive a manual transmission so she could use it, too. I know, not to be ungrateful but I never cared for the color of the car. To me it, was a very dated and tacky color – one more suited for an early 90s car, yuck. He said my stepmother picked the color and I think the color must’ve reminded him of his old Tahiti Blue Triumph TR-7, too. But way more reliable. Splash Green Mica was a one-year color with just 738 some examples built, so I was not alone – it was not a popular choice. I never cared for the spoiler either, so that winter I removed the trunk lid, took off the spoiler and had the holes welded in, trunk lid repainted.

Much better without the spoiler, in my opinion.

When spring rolled around we did enjoy using it, but my girlfriend, unaccustomed to such a small, open car, was scared to drive/ride in it out on the highway. So trips were mostly relegated to around town, which was sure fun but felt like a waste of the car’s true potential. I did not mind driving it out there on the highways and on long trips but going alone wasn’t as fun.

The NB (second gen) Miata addressed some of the complaints about the NA, mainly the lack of power. The 1.8 was supposedly better but most wouldn’t know it. The 1.6 was admired for its linear powerband but must’ve been lacking!


A very pleasant place to spend the time.

Well, this installment is pretty brief because later that fall, I purchased a sports car more to my liking and sold the Miata. I felt bad selling the car that brought my dad so much joy but he was now content with his third gen (NC) Miata and did not have the garage space for both cars plus his Ranger. And the lesson learned from the summer was that we were not going to use it like we should. I was happy with how much I was still able to sell his car for despite the age and mileage and it went to a very good home – a grown father/son duo who had a passion for Mazdas.

An interesting postscript to this story, just last fall an identical Miata popped up for sale locally and my dad bought it. It was absolutely like new and had just 39,000 miles on it. But that was short-lived – he came to the same conclusion again that you can only drive one at a time and indoor storage is at a premium, so we sold it this spring. I personally pine for a nice NA (first gen) Miata but those are becoming harder and harder to find in nice condition. I test drove a 2002 special edition British Racing Green MB2 Miata a few months ago but it was a little rougher than was let on in the ad. And it would take a very, very special Miata to disrupt the sports car that’s in the garage now.