"Way Back When....."
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Back in the spring of 1974, I bought a fire-engine red '66 Corvette convertible. I had just graduated from high school and eight-year-old vette's were at the bottom of their price curve. I paid $2200 for the car and about the same for insurance. It was in excellent condition (for a used corvette).
I bought it from an air force jet mechanic who had modded the engine with everything that was popular at the time (Edelbrock Torker manifold, Holley 850 double-pumper, Iskedarian cam, headers, Mallory dual-point ignition, milled heads, bored and stroked). It smelled like a race-track pit area (gas, oil and rubber). It had no power steering, no power brakes (but they were four-wheel discs) no AC, absolutely no emission control anything and averaged about 12 mpg. I foolishly found out on a couple of occasions that it would easily go all the way to the 160 mph mark on the speedometer. Except for the weight, it handled somewhere between NASCAR and Formula One (90 degree corner, absolutely flat at 70mph) but rode like an empty dump-truck. It was so stiff that something was always rattling loose. I was always finding screws in the floorboard that I had no idea where they came from. It had so much low-end torque that you could lug around town at 20 mph in fourth gear all day long and then tromp on it to spin the tires for a block. The straight-line acceleration from a dead-stop or at any speed was so psychotically dangerous that it should have been illegal. The only--even remotely--comparable cars to a Miata in those days were MGs, Triumphs, Alfa Romeos or maybe the original 240Zs but the only folks interested in racing me back then were owners of 440 Hemis, Shelby Mustangs or the occasional 911 (this was just before Trans Ams and Z-28s).
I loved that car, even though it was horribly unreliable and completely impractical as an everyday street machine. I had been racing motorcycles since I was 11 years old, so knew about speed, but this car taught me how to drive really fast and it attracted girls. Two years after I got it, it was parked on the street in front of a friend's house when an old lady in a new Mercedes plowed into it at 60 mph. Kids were finding fiberglass a block away and I was in shock. It looked like someone had splattered a giant, red corvette-shaped egg all over the street. It was totaled so her insurance paid me the blue book and I sold what was left for parts. I see where even junky ones are going for $30K lately. Maybe I should have stuck it under a tarp in my Grandad's back yard for the last 30 years? Naaaah!
For jillions of reasons I love my Miata a whole lot more and not just because it is in every way, shape and form--with the possible exception of straight-line acceleration--a 10-times better automobile than that 'vette was. My old Corvette gave me a love for a fast, good-handling open-air roadster that I still have today and there is no way on God's green earth that my Miata or anyone else's could have taken that particular 'vette at a stoplight or a quarter-mile. Now, if you add a curve or three, well....isn't that why we all love to drive Miatas?