The car I should have never sold
Or money really can't buy automotive happiness.
This post comes from Autoblog Open Road, our contributor network. The author is solely responsible for the content, and any opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Autoblog and its editors.
The problem with owning so many vehicles is that you never seem to have them for long. Situations, needs, properties, and family change, and you change cars as a result. Sometimes you simply change because of a whim, or a lust and need for more power, but there is only one car that I yearn to buy again – my 1992 Mazda Mx-5.
I knew my cousin had a pearl white '92 MX-5 (Miata for you North American folk) sitting in storage, but I didn't want to complicate family, so I bought an MX-6 Turbo instead. To use a rather crude Aussie saying, it went like a cut snake. It had power for days, but handled like the soft, middle-aged, chopped 626 sedan that it was. When I started having injector problems, I decided to sell the coupe, bite the bullet, and ask my cousin to sell me the MX-5. Negotiations were stress-free, and I picked up the ragtop a week later.
Going from a turbocharged front-wheel-drive car to a naturally aspirated rear-driver stressed me out – was I going to notice the lack of power? Was I going to be able to get away from the lights without bogging down? Would I look like a princess? Driving the MX-5 for the first time after putting it back on the road was a revelation. I thought I had owned well-handling cars before, but this was a different animal!
All of a sudden I understood Colin Chapman's mantra of "adding lightness." The little 1.6-liter loved to rev, and I loved to rev it! It was a match made in manual-transmission heaven. With slightly larger wheels and tires, the grip was extraordinary. One experience in particular has burned itself into my memory. A friend and I drove through one of Victoria's greatest driving roads – Justin in his Nissan GTS-T and me in the little MX-5. On the straights, Justin would disappear in a whoosh of turbo thrust, but in the twisties, I would reel him in with the neutral handling and sticky rubber. All I had to do was plant my foot and steer.
The MX-5 stayed with me through over five years of country drives, changing jobs, moving house, transporting my Great Dane (yep, Great Dane), and I loved every single drive.
One day our old friend money came into the picture and opened up a world of possibilities. The inherited funds gave me the automotive world on a plate, and I became obsessed with finding the next perfect experience.
The hunt also brought to light the issues with the MX-5. The roof I replaced early on in our relationship had started to leak on the driver's side, so on wet days I ended up with a soggy thigh and butt cheek. And in that same wet weather, the near-perfect 50/50 weight distribution and low weight meant that accelerating just that little too much on a winding road was tantamount to suicide.
The chase led me to believe that another Mazda was the way to go, and so I traded the MX-5 in on a pristine RX-8. It had done less than 50,000 kilometers and was utterly spotless and gorgeous. I paid over market value because I wanted the best one I could find. Which proved to be my biggest mistake.
The RX-8 was too good. It was shiny, unmarked, and perfect, and so I hated driving it because I wanted to keep it perfect. I even tried to recreate that life-changing drive with Justin and his now highly modified GTS-T, but I backed off as I didn't want to thrash the RX-8. I washed it several times a week, and wept when I found the tiniest of stone chips or marks on the leather.
It was a trip to the local supermarket that made me realize I was trapped in automotive hell. I parked away from the hordes where I found three spots – space on either side. I walked to the entrance, glanced back at someone parking next to the RX-8, and ran back to move it. This repeated three times before I drove home empty handed.
The entire drive home I couldn't help but wish for a soggy thigh and suicidal handling.
I sold the RX-8, bought a Saab wagon, traded that it on a Falcon ute, which I traded in on a RAV4 for my wife, and bought a Mitsubishi Challenger which lasted six months before self-destructing. I now drive a Forester XT, which is great for the family, goes like stink, and is perfect for the constant renovations of a mid-century home.
But I miss the MX-5. And given the choice, I would put up with a wet bum all day long.
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