November 5th… I still remember that day like it was yesterday. I was doing the morning shift and I’d receive a call at home from a dealer saying “We’ve drop shipped your car to our lot! Come on over to take a look at it before we close… It is first come first serve even if you did pay the deposit to get it brought over.” I would get to the dealer at about 6:00pm and take a peek. The gauges reminded me of the days I toyed with FD3S RX-7’s but most of the car stood out like a British roadster. The sales rep would end up teaching me refined manual on the fly… so that yielding to be an interesting experience. After signing off the papers and having my car polished up, I’d roll home to Dallas in my first set of wheels that I paid with my own hands for. It was a tiring day, but it would be the beginning of even more exhaustive training for me to remember my “fancy footwork”.
It wouldn’t be until I hit the 6th month of ownership that I would come to realize the true merits of my MX-5. Sure, it’s not the prettiest one. It has bare nothing as far as features go. No premium leather seats, no power windows, no power locks, no tricked out sound system, no sport suspension pack, no aerodynamics pack, no ABS, no power steering. However… it’s been one of my more forgiving experiences with a driving machine. Before the MX-5, I was plunking around town in a Honda Integra sedan which had more heft to toss around and simply not enough power to back it. The MX-5 however feels like a zippy go-kart that could push endlessly. However… the car is not without it’s caveats. The stock steel 14″ tires are far from adequate compared to the later models getting a wider 15″ wheels or even the 17″ wheels on the later Mazdaspeed turbo versions. The gears are short so those addicted to high speeds may feel a bit “cheated” on this vector.
From the 2 years I have become attuned to the MX-5, I have been rather impressed it’s been a forgiving teacher to me. The maintenance is a bit easier than the rat’s nest that I had to deal with in the Integra. The best part being the ability to break the top down when the day is looking great! The community of folks who drive MX-5’s is staggering! So help, tips and advice are almost always readily available no matter where you live.
For a worthy car to really learn the roots of essential and proper rear-wheel shenanigans, the MX-5 is one hell of a car to do it all in. The cost of one from the 1999 – 2005 era is much lower than the newer ones, so they are plenty cheap. Truly one of the best cars to learn about spirited driving and the essential techniques to hone it properly.