Year round motorcycling in Vancouver is cold rainy and windy.
"Why don't you drive your truck?" a friend asked.
"There's no parking in Vancouver."
"Then you'll just have to get a car like everyone else."
"I don't want to get a car. I feel like I'm driving in a cage."
"What about a convertible"
And that's how I began looking for a sportscar.
I remembered the years I had a Ford Mustang and how I loved that car. Just like my Harley Electraglide. When I got in my Mustang I wanted to head for the open road. But I didn't need the back seat. Now I wanted something smaller too. Something easy to park, really maneuverable. And I wanted a trunk. In Vancouver anything is stolen if it's left in the car and people break windows just to snatch and grab cellphones. A trunk made things out of sight out of mind, even if a lock only keeps an honest man out. I didn't want to tie up a lot of money either.
My wiser older brother Ron who'd had a motorcycle before me had bought a sportscar with his wife Adel when they were younger. Dad never had much to say about them but then he was really a truck man. Mom and he liked their American Motor sedan too. Remember her in her mink coat and him in his suit driving to church in their Ambassador. They always had to have a back seat for the kids and grandkids though. If I'm not riding a motorcycle, a 2 seater sportscar is just fine for me.
The list of car choices got short pretty quickly. Smart Car - great but no trunck. Cooper - no trunk but otherwise fine. Back seat possibilities. VW bug convertible. I phoned the dealer and all I got was an electronic message. Made me think that maintenance could be a problem. Still I loved the VW bug, rabbit and Vanagon's I've had. Checked out the PT Cruiser convertible too. I 'd rented PT Cruisers and loved the ride. Reminded me of the HHR I loved. All the American cars were great but bigger than I needed.
That's when I came back to the Miata. I'd seen one on the street and loved it. A Prrofessor of Pharmacy friend had one and he absolutely loved it . All the ratings on internet were great. It was under$30,000 new where as if I wanted a BMW or Porche or any of those others I'd have to go to a $50,000 plus price tag which meant I'd have to sell a kidney. I'd get $10,000 on my Ural Sidecar Motorcycle if I traded that in so with $10,000 down and that I'd only have to finance $10,000. Not bad with the two year rates these days. My Scotia and TD Banks are Canadian with bank managers I like. It was the American banks that hated their citizens not the Canadians. Dad always paid cash where he could but secured loans were relatively okay. The real one armed bandit crack equivalent was the credit card. I watch mine like a venomous snake I've got as a pet.. .
Laura and I decided just for fun to check out the 'feel' of a Miata. I'd sat in some other sports cars on lots but never the Mazda. So there we were one day at Morrey Mazda in North Vancouver.planning only to sit in one. I did and "it fit" like a very fine glove.
"You know we've got a 2011 model which was used as a demo , has only 10,000 km on it and is $10,000 off the new price." Erik, the delightful salesman told me. I knew what Eve felt like in the Morrey Garden of Eden. All the Mazda cars were bright shiny apples but the Miata was the prettiest of all. It was like history repeating myself too.. I remembered the day I'd gone from a Harley Davidson Roadster to the Electraglide I truly love because Trev Deely had a low mileage demo on just such a sweet sale. One of best decisions of my life.
Erik was a tall handsome man who sold me on Mazda and Miata simply by showing me the features and telling me how much he enjoyed his. He was 6'2". We talked about motorcycling. He admitted he'd given up riding a decade past falling in love with sports cars.
"I love my miata." he said.
So we took it for a test drive. Laura stayed with Gilbert. I drove the 2011 Miata around the neighbourhood and out on the highway and back. What a ride! Great open air biking feel with the same sense of feeling the road cornering. And perky, too On the highway it just lit out with a whole lot of muscle under the hood. . 167 hp 4 cyclinder but the car is under 3000 lbs. My 1600 cc Harley motorcycle is nearly a thousand pounds. Great torgue. Same kind of responsiveness.
"Two side air bags for collision and front air bags. Head rest acts as a kind of roll bar but there's reinforcing back there. You can get more reinforcing for the headrests as an accessory. But the feature I like best," Erik said, " is the automatic emergency braking. If you slam on the brakes, say if a kid runs in front of you, electronically the car senses the fast braking motion and brings all the braking pssible to bear without ceasing up." I tried it and we stopped with my guts in front of the car.
2.0L engine, Double overhead Cam. 4 cylinder. 16 valves.
167 hp at 700 rpm 140 ft lbs @ 5000 rpm
Rear wheel transmission. I've got 6 speed manual. I confess I think automatic sportscars are for weenies. I love the brakes. Disc brakes - ventilated front disc and solid rear disc brakes. There's tire pressure monitoring too though I haven't found it yet. I heard about that first when I got my RV. Something I'd like on my Harley too.
The folding 12 second hard roof is what makes it. I was afraid to have a cloth top in downtown Eastside Vancouver. There's problems with people knifing the tops for fun or profit. I just didn't want to have to face the bother of replacement. Thieves are most awful for forcing one to deal with insurance beurocracy, the appointments and delays. All over Vancouver millions and millions of dollars in lost productivity is a product of the high downtown theft rate. I've had my vehicles broken into several times. The insurance doesn't cover the lost and never covers the thousands of dollars lost time dealing with insurance and repairs. So I loved the hard top. Best of all worlds.
The key fob works the lock and it's one of those proximity ones. If it's in my pocket the car is mine.
"This one is 'fully loaded'", Erik told me. All the accessories. The base car rate for a new one was around $28,000 but fully loaded GT or Grand Touring could add another $10,000 to the car price total. Great Bose sound system too with Serius Satellite Radio installed. I've still got to get that working. But Laura and I loved the Serius comedy channel on the new Jeep we'd rented in Ottawa last month. I've had my I tunes playing through the Bose system.Selah, Bach and Chantel all sound terrific. Love having the controls on the steering wheel.
When Eric and I got back I took Laura for a spin and she said, "I love it." Most imporstant, she said, "There's room enough for Gilbert here too." That's what counted. I knew Gilbert would sit on the seat but didn't know if he and Laura would have enough room together on 'his' side of the car.
So I bought it. At least the bank and I did. I needed more good excuses to go to work too.
Now it was hard to wait for delivery and harder to wait for the weekend day trip. But Laura and I and Gilbert have driven down to Bellingham, stayed the night there. The winding tree and sea Chuckanut Road I love doing on my Harley on the Oyster Bike Run was a whole lot of fun in the Miata. . With the wider vehicle the road is a whole lot narrower. Easier and better feeling on the bike but still a great experience driving a winding and curving country road.. Love the sunshine and wind in the hair. Had to stop at Skaggit Harley though to get a leather harley ball cap. Had to have that and my hair in a pony tail because my hair had been whipping my face raw. Usually it gets bunched inside a helmut. . With the heated seats and interior heating it was a really comfortable ride. Truly decadent.
Loved looking ahead at a storm cloud, turning to Laura and saying, "I think I should put the roof up or we might get wet." I pulled over to the side. 12 seconds later and we were ahead of the rain and snug as a bug. I confess I felt pretty good when a biker went by going the other direction soaked from head to toe. I must be getting soft. But I sure have paid my dues. I knew too well what that guy was feeling like and I know I was feeling a whole lot more warmer. And still I felt really 'cool'.
Tthere's something to be said cruising along with Steppenwolf wailing over the speakers too. Laura and I had loved seeing John Kay at the Sturges North Biker Festival last year. With the top up I felt more like I was in the cabin of a little jet fighter plane than a boring old car. . The whole console is so well made and arranged for viewing. Laura and Gilbert beside me was pretty great too. i think I know what Tom Cruise feels like now.
At the Best Western in Bellingham and the Best Western Navigator in Everett we just took the overnight luggage out of the trunk and signed in. The trunk holds just enough for two to make a week road trip I'd figure. This weekend road trip we had room left over. I imagine we could even throw in the tenting camping gear we had for weekends on the motorcycle. Pretty tight but just what we need. I'd not be going hunting with this car. No room for hauling loads. That's what my trucks for.
This is perfect for my needs in city and weekend road trips. I'll be riding the harley still and even taking Laura along. But Gilbert doesn't like any long trips in his box at the back when there's the three of us on the bike. At most a day run and that's stretching it for him. He's liking the sportscar pretty much but the top coming up kind of scares him a bit even if he tries to put on a brave dog face.
"I love my Miata". This one is 3rd generation and there's more than a million sold. Reminds me a bit of my room mate Roberto's MG. I was 20 then. I'm 60 now but kind of feel like 20. And looking over at Laura. She kind of looks like 20 with her blond hair and smile and the two of us racing up the I5. What an adventure! I love my Miata!