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30 March 2004 @ 06:06 am
Long Live the Miata!  
I test drove a number of convertibles (and what a beautiful day it was to do so!), including a 98 BMW Z3 and a 2001 Honda S2000.

The Z3 was rather awkward, the shifter throw was longer than I like and the elbow placement wasn't very comfortable because of where the hand brake was placed. It drove a little rough, and I resolved to try another one but there wasn't another one available anywhere within driving range. Pity, as driving a Beemer would definitely raise my vehicular status quotient.

The S2000 was fantastic. It has been rated a "best buy" by Consumer Reports (which I carefully researched before I left home) and it is obvious why. It shifts smoothly, it has lots of power, a very comfortable interior - and was about $5000 too expensive. And was black, which is the Wrong Color for a a Georgia summer. No 2000 model years available, unfortunately, and the salesman told me in all honesty that he wouldn't be able to sell even a 2000 within my price range - they are still extremely popular and the prices are not at all soft for them yet. Oh, well. And I found it interesting that 2 of the salesmen at the Honda Carland drive ... Mazda Miatas (MX-5s). Hmmmm.

Now, the Z3 was at the Mazda dealership, so I wanted to drive a 2001 Miata (MX-5) right after the Z3 in order to compare them. They had a good one on the lot, an LS/SE with all the trimmings, so I asked to drive it.

It was locked, of course. They looked for the key. It wasn't in the key safe or on any of the salesmen's desks.

It was in the ignition of the Miata. Which, as you recall, was locked.

What I would have given to have a video camera to film 6 (yes, six) Mazda sales people - including the general manager of the dealership - trying desperately to get this convertible unlocked without damaging the finish - and without spending a measly $40 to make the new key.

I got paged, and went off to my rental boat car to handle the call. When I came back, they were still struggling to unlock the Miata. I went off to the BMW dealership to see if they had another Z3 to test drive. I returned to the Miata dealership. Still trying to unlock the car. I went off to the Honda dealership to drive the S2000. I came back to the Miata dealership - the car is now unlocked, hurrah!

I test drove it and loved it. The feel is familiar, of course, since I've been driving a Miata for years. The 2001 model is a little more roomy (they took out a little bit of center console storage to make the seats a little wider, for instance.) It is now a 6-speed (my 97 was a 5-speed), and the engine has a bit more pickup (in the 97 the engine was adequate but it was geared for 55 mph so highway speeds felt odd). The suspension is a little softer - it still handles very well but feels more like a highway car than a racing car. The SE goodies include the Bose combination tape/CD stereo (yay! I can still listen to filk tapes AND CDs!), leather seats, wood steering wheel/shift knob, and other fancy things like that there.

The salesman I'd been working with was a hoot. He was middle-eastern and a non-stop talker (not a pressure sales talker, but about everything under the sun.) He was very impressed that I had come back multiple times to look and try to test drive the Miata SE, and at one point he said, "You buy a car today, I give you a dollar!"

We started the price haggling. The first offer the general manager gave me was OK (he wrote on it "includes key!" which I got a chuckle from) but too high, as expected. We continued, but they just couldn't quite come down to a total figure I could work with, so I made a last offer. I told the salesman that since he was going to give me a dollar we'd make the offer one dollar higher than the round number that was the max I could go. The general manager got a kick out of it and we were done.

The price I paid was exactly the NADA valuation for the car and $1000 less than the Kelley valuation, which - considering the excellent shape this one is in - means I did pretty well. CarFax shows everything clean, which is to be expected from a dealership used car nowadays since the good ones do their own homework before putting a car on the lot.

Bottom line - I'm happy with the new Miata. And I've grown up, too - I'm a deep British racing green instead of a midlife-crisis red.
Current Mood: pleasedpleased
Silksinglemaltsilk on March 30th, 2004 10:19 am (UTC)
Yeah, baby! B.R.Green is *soooooo* your color!
David Keefertheo_knight on March 30th, 2004 10:21 am (UTC)
I was reminded of the joke about the guy who locked his keys in his convertible and was desperately trying to get it unlocked because it was threatening rain and he needed to put the top up...

Congrats on your new purchase. Has she got a name yet?
Bill Suttonbedlamhouse on March 30th, 2004 11:41 am (UTC)
I still have my vanity-platelish bastardized welsh YDRAIG plate from my old red one, so it'll probably be the Green Dragon or still just the Dragon.

Until she tells me otherwise, anyway.
cflutecflute on March 30th, 2004 03:58 pm (UTC)
Mazda rocks!
Conga-rats! Happy snoopy dancing for you. Hope to get a ride in the nifty new (to you) sportscar someday!

Btw, I have a (now middle-aged) '89 Mazda MX-6 GT. Yeah, with the turbo. Love it! Zir name is Hotshot.

Does yours have Recaro seats (too, like mine)?
Bill Suttonbedlamhouse on March 30th, 2004 07:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Mazda rocks!
Nope, just the SE leather/suede ones.

Comfy ahhhhhhhhhhh.