Is the Mazda Miata “gay”?

With all the driving events I have been going to in the last couple of months, I finally got to take the hardtop off and drive with the top down during a sunset last night around Vancouver.

As a car enthusiast, you sometimes easily dismiss a convertible as a true driver’s car but what this car has taught me is that although this convertible may not be as structurally sound as a car with a roof, in the right conditions the exposure to the outdoor elements gets you closer to the sound of the car – and what a sound that is!

Ultimately isn’t that the feeling of driving that we appreciate as drivers? The same way that electric cars may one day have better performance than a gasoline-powered car, but where is the excitement when all you hear is tire rumble and a muffled whine from the motor?

Of course this moment was promptly ruined when some rich kids in a Mercedes GL rolled down the window and screamed something about “Nice Miata…”. I couldn’t totally make out the rest of the sentence but I’m sure it was something about it being “gay”.

Which brings to mind the real shame with this car, which is something that is NOT the fault of the manufacturers – its perception in public.

Why is it that people always associate a small, lightweight sports car as being “gay”? Anybody who knows cars and can drive them properly, who HAVE driven the car knows what this car is.

This kind of unsubstantiated car snobbery always seems to come from people who A. Don’t know anything about cars, and B. who have never driven a Miata, and C. usually driving cars that are worse to drive. Is that not the definition of ignorance?

Why DO people think the Miata is “gay”?

Here are the possible reasons that I came up with (please comment if I have missed any):
1. Men:Women ownership
Ok so maybe some people out there will argue the 50:50 split in men/women ownership, but since when did that decide when a car is “gay” or not? I’m sure if you looked at the number of automatic Ford Mustangs out there the split would be very similar. Does that make it “gay”?

2. The curvy body design/compact nature of the car and small engine?
Or maybe people think this car is “gay” because of the looks? Because the curvy looks make it feminine? And if that is the case why do people not think the FD RX-7 is “gay”? It is not that much bigger than a Miata, has curves very similar to a Miata, and actually has a smaller displacement engine.

3. Is it the name?
Who the F*ck cares what the car is called? Do you decide who you date based on their name?

4. Is it because it is a convertible?
Many people will clump this car into the same category as other convertibles out there…like the VW Beetle Cabrio, for instance. Why? The Miata has more racing pedigree than arguably any other ‘convertible’ out there. Do you ever look at a piece of paper and go: “Hmm….RWD, 5 or 6 speed manual, Torsen LSD, light weight…oh wait its a convertible. Nope – I’ll stick to my automatic Corolla instead.”. One of the fastest cars I have ever had the pleasure of sitting in was in Ken Lau’s highly tuned Miata at a recent trackday I went to. His stock brakes nearly sucked my eyeballs out of their sockets, the g-forces in the corners just about snapped my neck in half, and I went deaf yelling multiple profanities while he passed many cars “better” than his – Porsche 911 GT3s, RS’ and the like. All in a day’s work.

To me the Miata (or MX-5, or MX-5 Miata) is a true driver’s car, and the people who drive them are true enthusiasts. They don’t let public perception turn them away from a car that offers a better driving experience than 99% of the cars out on the road.

And last night’s drive helped cement this; I was driving this car around some absolutely stunning scenery and enjoying the car for what it is.

You feel the response of the steering, the engine note change to a different cam profile at 4000rpm, and the beautiful burbly exhaust note that pops and cracks on overrun. From some angles this car looks like an FD RX-7, from other angles you see elements of classic british roadsters (Jaguar D-type for me actually), and from some angles it just has a smile on its face, completely oblivious to the masses of people driving by who don’t get to enjoy the same pleasure in the simple act of driving.

When those rich teenagers drove by with the GL that had been bought on their parent’s money and yelled those things at me, I didn’t think “wow..those guys must be right. I must be gay!”. I thought – “what a bunch of stupid kids”.

And then I thought how much I will miss this car when I sell it. I will miss the fellowship of other Miata owners out there, all who experience very similar things to me. I will miss how simple this car is, how you can see the engine when you open the hood (and not a bunch of plastic covers that tell you that the manufacturer thinks you are too stupid to work on your own car), and the smile on your face which mimics the car’s face when you drive it.

I hope the next owner appreciates you as much as I do, Miata. Thank you.

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