One by one the personal CCs of the editorial team are going away. Jim Klein gave us the news that the Official CC Porsche has moved on, which reminded me that I have done the same with my Miata. And have, for some reason, been reluctant to write about the event. But here we go.
I had begun to entertain thoughts of selling last fall. The problem was that I had noticed a pattern: every year I would drive the car about half the number of miles I had driven it the year before. But I did not sell last fall, because fall in Indiana is perfect MiataWeather (which is a real thing, and if it’s not it is now).
The other big issue was more personal. My favorite part of owning the car was going out with Mrs. JPC for little trips in good weather. A farmers market, some downtown shopping, or maybe just a run for dinner out or an ice cream cone. But my Mrs has been experiencing some knee issues which made getting in and out a chore. The car was still fun for me to drive, but not as fun doing it alone as doing it with the one you want along for the ride.
The Miata has amazing defense mechanisms, one of which is that whenever you think of selling, you need to drive it somewhere – to a store to buy some cleaning supplies, or to the gas station or some other such place. When you drive it you can no longer sell it because it brings such joy.
The kicker came this spring. Many places experienced abnormal heat in late spring and early summer, but not where I live. May and June were rain, rain and more rain. Rain is not MiataWeather, so the car sat in the garage.
A side note about that garage – I have long been a “2 cars in a 2 car garage” person. When I got the Miata, the Honda Fit got kicked outside. It has been surly about the situation and shows it by letting its white paint deteriorate. The problem came when there was an office move last winter which brought a bunch of boxes and such into the garage. And of course the twenty-year-old “we never drive it this time of year car” stayed indoors while the “drive it all the time” Sedona joined the Fit in the driveway. This is not, for those curious, the path to wedded bliss.
A long, slow series of events eventually reached critical mass and I decided that the time had arrived. It was a good car that sold to the first guy who looked at it and everyone was happy. Mostly. I wrote about the experience on my blog (here) but somehow held off here at the place where I should have been breaking the news. Was it that I kept finding other things to write about? Or just a touch of remorse after the weather finally improved? I have no idea.
All in all I owned the car for four and a half years. In that time it gave me very little trouble, most of which involved a battery that I nursed for too long and finally replaced. I sold it for right around what I had paid for it looked and drove right for the entire time.
There are two kinds of cars – real cars and play cars. The Miata could be a real car (and occasionally was when an extra car was needed in the family) but was a play car for me. It really made an almost perfect play car. I think the only one that rivaled it as a perfect play car was my 1929 Ford Model A – something even simpler than the Miata.
A great play car is small. I loves me my automotive gunboats, but devoting that much space to one is costly in terms of what it would displace in my none-too-large garage. The Miata’s small footprint was perfect for this. And it was the complete antithesis of a Whiny Bitch Car (TM) – a Jim Klein phrase that has become part of my automotive vocabulary. It was everything that the best Asian cars of the 1990’s always was in terms of reliability, but with a dose of sports car fun that made for an unbeatable combination.
So now I confess to all of my car friends that the Miata has been gone for about eight weeks. What is life like?
The Sedona is back inside and Mrs. JPC is happy about it. In truth, I am as well because I hated watching it collect tree detritus in the cowl area. The car has been garaged its whole life and, at almost 8 years old, still looks fabulous. I am left with a walnut that has somehow made it into an inner cowl channel and rolls noisily back and forth when I make turns.
And I no longer look in the garage and think “I need to give the Miata some exercise”. Or think about this little project or that one I could tackle, like the noisy speedometer cable. Now I have that time to devote to things I am not doing on my regular cars like trying to bring the white paint back to some kind of shine on the Fit.
As I have gotten older I have become more attached to the cars I like. My daily drivers have become genuine long-term relationships. But my automotive ADD is still there and I still have that flicker of desire to own something else. I really do want a Studebaker some time in my life. That time may come or it may not, I don’t know. But all in all, the Miata was a near perfect ownership experience. I hope its next relationship works out just as well.