There must be a special place in heaven for first generation Miatas. Particularly the red ones, with BBS alloy wheels, a Momo steering wheel and a free flow exhaust. I loved that car. One of the few cars we graced with a name – “Fend la bise” (literally “cuts the wind” – the English language equivalent would be “runs like lightning”).
We bought “Fend la Bise” when we were living in the south of France, at the extreme south of the Lyon area, less than 100 miles from the real “Provence”. Nice weather, great back-roads, gorgeous landscapes, powerful smells (the lavender fields). The car was perfect for the place and the time.
I had been looking for a convertible for a while – I had tested “cabrios” based on hatchbacks, but they gave you the impression of driving from the bottom of a large bathtub, as if sitting in a big under-steering jacuzzi. We found the Miata in Lyons, an early first generation model. It was already 10 years old when we bought it. With the Miata, it was love at first sight – it was a beautiful car, with everything designed for the pleasure of driving – the low seat, the incredibly direct shift lever, the very responsive engine, it made you feel you were at the wheel of a single seater (like a Formula Renault or something of that sort). When you were turning the steering wheel, the car was rotating around your butt, and you could feel the rear suspension at work and the Michelin tires slide just a bit. Grandiose.
I’ve never experienced that in a car again (I bought a 3rd gen Miata seven years later, it was a good car but nothing like Fend la Bise).
Mazda did not have a very dense dealer network, but being part of the Ford group, could rely on Ford dealers to provide routine service to its clients – the Valence Ford dealer only had one Mazda specialist, that everybody in the dealership called “Zoom-Zoom”. Zoom-Zoom only had to work on the car once, when the very special battery common to all 1st gen Miatas died, and had to be replaced by a conventional lead-acid battery that ate 1/3rd of the luggage compartment.
The car was perfect on the back roads and the week-end drives in the local canyons, but also usable day to day, for the commutes and for the occasional drive to the airport – I even drove it in the snow once.
Unfortunately, shortly after we bought Fend la Bise, I started working on a project that would ultimately lead to our expatriation to the US. In spite of what my HR department tried to pretend, it was impossible to bring Fend la Bise with us, and we had to sell it.
Of all the cars I’ve owned so far, it’s the car I liked the most. Would I buy a 1st Gen Miata again if I found a nice one? Probably not. The car was perfect for the life we were living in the south of France 20 years ago. I’m not sure it would be a good fit in Atlanta in today’s traffic conditions. You can’t bring the past back. When it’s over, it’s over.
Loved my first gen Miata on country roads and, to my surprise, around town. With the top down, it was almost like being on a bicycle, you became aware of the streetscape.
One of the great checkmarks on the list of a life well lived is to have owned an NA Miata. I, automotive contrarian extrordinaire, checked that box and am better for it. I don’t have enough experience with Atlanta, but suburban Indianapolis has plenty of opportunities to enjoy an NA.
I would buy one again, but would like an example that did not spend most of its life in a salt environment. Unfortunately, time moves on and every year there are fewer and fewer really nice ones, especially for a reasonable price.
My son bought one of these and added a puffer to it, I thought it scary fast, he loved it as a track car .
There used to be a thriving Miata community here in So. Cal. and I worked near a junkyard that bought them , rebuilt and sold them to BY,PH used cars lots and also sold parts off the really mangled ones very affordably .
Fun cars but a *skosh* too short windshield means I’ll never own one .
I’d wanted a blue or BRG one .
My very first Miata was a red 1990 ‘Base’, manual steering and stick. It did have A/C but that was it for creature features. I agree there is a special something about the first gen cars, to the point that allllll these years later I have both 1.6L and 1.8L examples, and an NB2 which is still wonderful, just slightly more refined. All are complete joys to drive on the curvy country roads I am so fortunate to live amongst. Anyone who has never driven an early Miata really needs to!
I know the feeling or “that time, that place”, having had a TR-6 in the days of my youth.
Great fun then, on winding, low traffic roads. I was considering buying a gen 1 Miata to
recapture the vibe, but quickly realized that, at least in my case, it is best to leave the past
in the past.
We just bought our ’95 M SPec this past April, and can confirm it is a transformative ownership. More SPG (Smiles per gallon) than any of the other more plebian rides we’ve had. It will be stored in the garage when the weather starts to deteriorate but broken out of its slumber if the skies clear and all is right with the world.
Your previous home sounds like a great place to enjoy the MX5.
Since moving from Europe to Minnesota I have occasionally been tempted by some cheap MGs and Triumphs but like you I concluded that it I was in the wrong location. The roads are copiously potholed and generally uninteresting and it’s usually too hot or too cold for a convertible.
My Crown Vic is an excellent Midwest Pothole Glider.
“You can’t bring the past back. When it’s over, it’s over.” But we’ll always have the music!
+1 for dogs in cars 😉
I’m enjoying your series and look forward to more. I never managed to drive a first generation Miata, but wish that I had.
Atlanta? Ohhhhh. I can’t wait for the next chapters.
Regret is selling your 911SC in 2013 for a third of what it’s worth today. Right before the obvious ramp up in prices with the 50th anniversary of the 911 and McQueen cars being auctioned.
Not me, the BMW expert over on the Hagerty site…….
The south of France sounds like a wonderful place to live no matter what kind of car you drive.