Reader Question: New Car Quest?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

John writes: You may remember me, I wrote to you a few months ago about my search for a new car to enjoy in my retirement.  I am the guy that was looking to get a new vehicle after having a 1969 Z28 Camaro as my first car and a 1975 Trans Am that I bought new when I graduated High School. In my car search I looked at everything under the sun. I was able to narrow it down to five possibilities. New Corvette, Camaro SS, Mustang GT, MX5 Miata or a vintage performance car or resto-mod of some kind built to my specifications. My concerns were that most new cars are way more expensive and way too heavy. The Colin Chapman philosophy of performance through light weight was always  at the forefront of my mind in my search. I ruled out the vintage resto-mod idea for a number of reasons. Vintage cars are a labor of love that I just don’t have in me anymore. If I had been able to keep one of my old cars it would be different. Same with the new Camaro and Mustang. Too heavy. Too expensive. That left the Corvette and the MX5. I couldn’t find a suitable Corvette. I looked. The new ones in stock were all automatics and way more than I wanted to spend. The 2021 mid engine versions were all sold out. The few used ones I looked at didn’t meet my high standards. That being said I hawked the dealerships for months when a MX5 GT in Polymetal Gray with a light gray rag top showed up. It was my second choice of Miatas. The first being a club version with the Recaro seat and Brembo brake package. I made a deal and became a proud owner.  I owned a 1992 NA version back in the day. I always like that car but it proved to be impractical as my only vehicle. This new version is light years ahead of that first gen I owned. Specification wise it beats the pants off the Austin Healey MKIII of the sixties. The gold standard of sports cars in my opinion. The new version has too many nannies but you can disable lane departure and traction control. Automatic not paying attention slow speed braking you cannot as far as I can tell. After the warranty is over I will be able to upgrade/modify car although in stock trim I find it more than adequate for road use. It shifts like a dream. Brakes are good.  Cost to modify was one of the reasons I chose the MX5 over the others. That and the purchase price. Thirty grand. Anything else would have been sixty or more. I will miss not having a nice powerful V8 but this car is plenty of fun without it. If I really feel the need for speed I can run my 2019 Aprilia Tuono RR up the 87 for a taste of real world acceleration. Within the posted speed limits of course. I’ve got a couple of Triumphs too. A Street Triple RS and a Speed Twin. Thought you might like to know what I ended up with. Thanks for speaking the truth in all things. Great insight on the used car market changes.  I wish you well!

My reply: Paraphrasing the monk in Indiana Jones, after he picked the right cup . . . I think you chose well! The Miata is hard to argue with on any level. The reflexes of an aikido master, the durability of an anvil and the fun of an amusement park ride that never ends for the price of a loaded economy car. I much prefer it over the Corvette especially, which may be a phenomenal car by the numbers – but numbers aren’t everything when something unquantifiable is lacking.

PS: The Aprilia brings up memories of a track day some years back. They even let me rock the race bike around Barber a few times, too!

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Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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