A while back my wife observed, We never have a car that’s fun.
Admittedly these are two categories that don’t occupy the same precinct of my mind. Cars mostly I look at as trouble waiting to happen.
Not long after my wife realized we had dragged through life with boring cars, a friend suffered a pair of unfortunate events with his tiny, two-seater, convertible Mazda Miata. First he got into a fender bender that banged up the front bumper, fender and hood. A couple weeks later his kid did the same thing, further damaging the same parts. He found it so depressing to look at his now messed-up pride and joy that he asked if I would take the title and drive the wreck away.
It wasn’t going to be a fun car immediately — in fact there was going to be a lot of pounding, banging and wrenching, not to mention scrounging around at U Pull R Parts — before we were laughing it up with the Miata. Nonetheless, I said yes.
I got the car back together a few weeks ago. It has a new fender, bumper and headlight assembly. I did some pounding on the hood to bring it back into the range of the acceptable, and installed a new steering rack to tune up the road feel. Then I did a spray-can paint job that fits into the 30/30 definition — not so bad at 30 feet and 30 miles per hour.
Here’s the revelation: it’s a fun car. With the top down it’s like a go-kart. At 45 miles per hour you feel like you could take flight. The engine growls in a way that satisfies all sorts of puerile desires. Goose the gas through a turn and you feel like you’re at LeMans, even if you’re just bumping along Pierce Butler.
There’s no room for the dogs, no room for more than two people, no room for much more than a pair of grocery bags in the trunk. But stupid fun: we’ve got plenty of room for that. We look like all the other geezers tearing around in their Miatas. There are a lot of us, I notice now. But regarding the laughs that life can offer up, I say better late than never.