M3 vs. NA Miata
This spring I surprised my wife with a 1st generation Miata, a car that has some emotional significance for us. When I brought it home from the previous owner out in the PA boonies, at 170k miles it had seen better days.
But it was a rare Limited Edition (black exterior with red interior), running incredibly light BBS wheels and sporting a matching hardtop and not an ounce of rust. So in other words, worth saving. I painstakingly refreshed the suspension, soft top, seats and various other bits. A new exhaust is going in this weekend plus the usual tune-up parts - all in all a labor of love.
The Miata is nowhere near the solidity of an M3, it is slow and carries the stigma of being an overly feminine car. But here is what it does well:
- Corners with the best of them - really, I'm hard pressed to corner any faster in the M3 (went around my buddy in his E46 M3 on the outside of a corner, his eyes were big as saucers)
- Flows down a road - the suspension is fairly soft (at least the sways) but you can hustle it at truly indecent speeds on any kind of road
- Throttle response is very good (that said I have it buried most of the time)
- Steering is very good, good feel and not too light
- Everything is small, cheap, simple and made to last
- There's an honesty about the driving experience that I have only felt in one other car, the Elise.
That last bit is the main attraction for me. It's why I keep snatching the keys as often as I can. A small roadster, low to the ground, wind in the hair and some loud tunes on a cool night have got to be some of my most memorable driving moments. Last time I laughed like that I was on the Ring.
I can really understand now the attraction of racing in one of these, although there is absolutely no way I'll turn my Limited Edition into a track rat. If you care about driving but haven't had a chance to own one of those old Miatas I highly suggest getting one, even if just for a few months. You won't regret it.
2009 E90 M3 ED
2012 MINI Countryman S