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Why One Vehicle Tester Thinks The Mazda Miata Is The Best Dream Car In The World

The Mazda Miata is the best dream car in the world. Here's why.


Over the past decade, I have been fortunate enough to have my dream job. I test cars and offer my opinions on them. In that time, I've written for dozens of newspapers including the two largest newspapers in my region as well as many of the top car websites. As my publications list grew, so too did the opportunity to test more expensive and more exotic cars. Including amazing machines built by Rolls Royce, Porsche, Jaguar, Maserati, and specialty exotics like the BMW i8. FCA America and GM have also put me into some of the fastest cars ever built, including multiple Hellcats and special versions of the Corvette and Camaro. For many Americans, these are the cars that would be the ideal dream car. However, my personal favorite dream car is the Mazda Miata. Here's why.
Mazda Miata image by John GorehamMiata Experience
To understand why I prefer the Mazda Miata as a dream car, you have to understand my personal perspective. I am not saying this perspective should be yours, or that mine is better than anyone else's. Simply that it is mine based on my experience. For me personally, I enjoy a car that is a convertible as a dream car. I like the added sensations of the wind in my hair, the sounds of the birds as I drive through the woods, and even the smells of a backyard barbeque. I feel as if a dream car should make all of the senses come alive, so for me it has to be a convertible.
Mazda Miata image by John Goreham
I also want a vehicle that I can enjoy at speeds that won't get me arrested. Am I willing to risk a moving violation in my own personal car on my own personal time? Perhaps, but never when testing a car given to me by a manufacturer. Fortunately, I get a day or two on track to get my yayas out at higher than public road speeds and I can scratch that itch. That said, I love grand touring driving most of all. By that, I mean driving for two to five hours at a stretch in a rural area, in nice weather, on country mountain roads. In my opinion, there is no better car in which to be in that scenario than a Miata.

Miata racecar image by John Goreham

What may surprise some readers is that the Miata is also one of my favorite track cars. I have driven both the NC and ND generations on track, and I have driven both road-going and race-prepped Miatas on track. I love the elemental feel of a Miata on a closed course. I can push it to 10/10ths in the straightaway. In corners, I can make it slide sideways and then catch it exactly when I want to. I apply power out of a corner by first executing a double-clutched down-shift while braking at the same time (sometimes it even works). A Miata can also out-brake nearly every other car built. Before rules tightened up, I drove Miatas with no tops (but of course with rollover protection) on track many times. I can do things on track in a Miata that I cannot in a Corvette or a Jaguar and still have a high degree of confidence that I can keep the shiny side up.

Miata Practicality
I owned an NC Miata for many years. During that time, it never once failed to start. It never once broke down. It never once failed to be ready to hit the road when I found myself with a free Sunday to drive all day. The Miata is among the most reliable dream cars ever created. I was able to get it maintained anywhere I wanted. There were two dealers within 15 minutes of my home. I never had to leave the car overnight at a dealer the entire time I owned it. The tires were "normally-priced" and didn't break the bank when I changed them.
Lexus IS 350C image by John GorehamMiata Afforability (Lack of Guilt)
My first job paid me $3.25 per hour. During college, I often held three jobs at a time. Both my parents worked - hard - all their lives. My wife has always worked harder than me. As a result, I have a thing about money. Wasting it is not something I am able to do. There is a part of me that just will not allow me to spend more for an experience than I need to. In my life, I have spent big money but I expected when I did that it was still a value. For this reason, when I test cars with a high price I insist that they provide an overall experience that is distinctly better than a vehicle costing less. For me, the Miata is sort of a ceiling. I bought a convertible touring car costing twice as much following the Miata and it was not a better overall experience. That sort of cemented that for me a Miata is the best dream car.
Maserati Gran Turismo image by John GorehamWhat Might Be Better
There are a handful of cars that I consider nearly equal to the Miata as a dream car - for me personally. A convertible Jaguar F-Type perhaps. A Maserati Gran Turismo convertible is tempting. The Porsche Boxter always makes the list. I also enjoy driving the convertible Mustang GT and Camaro SS cars. Each has a different personality. However, each of these also has a "problem." The issue is that it's hard to feel what makes them special at speeds that won't risk a serious driving offense. They are too capable. Coupled that with the fact that each costs dramatically more than a Miata, and I have a hard time imagining buying one. On a track, I can have a LOT of fun in a convertible Mustang GT or special Camaro, but I don't like the idea of taking one past its limits. That could be a life-changing or life-ending experience for me.

Related Story: An Electric Miata From Mazda Would Be Fantastic

On the track, I enjoy the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider more than any other car. It is so much more involving than any other. I feel like I could spend a decade learning how to make it do what I ask. If my dream car was for track use only I would consider it.

What's YOUR Dream Car And Why
I asked one of my mentors once why his dream car was a Hellcat. His answer expanded how I thought about such cars. He told me, "Where I live near Detroit, there are no turns. The roads are a grid. So, acceleration is the name of the game in terms of enjoyment." At that moment, it became clear to me that there is no "one best dream car." The location, preferences, and budget one has all come into play. I attached the video in this story to add a third perspective on why the Miata is the best dream car for some buyers who can have any car they wish.

Now that you know what my dream car is, please feel free to tell us what yours is and why in the comments below.

Image Notes: All photos by John Goreham. Use with permission only.

John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. For 20 years he applied his engineering and sales talents in the high tech world and published numerous articles in technical journals such as Chemical Processing Magazine. In 2008 he retired from that career and dedicated himself to chasing his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin.


DeanMcManis (not verified)    April 10, 2020 - 2:42PM

I have always liked the Miata. It truly is one of the best examples of a modern, balanced, sportscar. It is unfortunate that the current popular vehicles are mostly crossovers and SUVs, and convertible roadsters are fading from the spotlight, when they are some of the most fun vehicles on Earth to drive. I've had convertibles most of my life, and zooming (not racing) through twisty mountain roads is one of life's best experiences for me. I've had a 1959 Karmann Ghia convertible for many years, which is kind of a predecessor to the Miata. However even with all of the compromises of being a 60 year old VW, (despite updates) it's still great fun to drive! I also have a 2000 Dodge Viper RT/10, which is like a Miata on steroids. It was my dream car and still puts a smile on my face, especially with the top off. The Viper is an impractical, wild, unicorn that you must respect or it will bite you. But driven reasonably, it's simply a fun sportscar that is always exciting to drive. For a future dream car, I'd pick a Tesla Roadster as an open-top, over achiever.

Joseph Thaler (not verified)    April 10, 2020 - 3:52PM

I’ve been a Miata driver and owner for 23 years I have opened a ‘92, ‘96, ‘97, ‘03 and presently have a bone stock ‘90 and 2008 GT. I have taken the ribbing about the chick car, but pay it no heed. If a “Chick” drives an original 427 Cobra, I guess the Cobra is a chick car. When a car is driven in anger on the twisties, gender labels, and other put down bull shit no longer apply. I don’t think of idiotic labels when I’m taking a corner at 9/10s.

Keith Monteith (not verified)    April 11, 2020 - 9:38PM

I've owned a variety of sports cars over the years, including an Austin-Healey 3000, a Jag XKE roadster, a track-prepped Porsche 914, a first gen RX-7, and four Miatas - a '90, '96, '99 and an '06. My '06 is mildly modified, but it's true to the Mazda vision of horse and rider as one, as it's got razor sharp turn-in, a willing engine and a transmission that begs to be shifted. I could afford one of the much faster sports cars mentioned in the article, but the Miata provides superb driving fun on a daily basis without attracting the attention of the constabulary.

Rick Wagner (not verified)    April 21, 2020 - 12:32PM

Bought a 2007 MX-5 GT (NC) after owning and then selling a mint 2000 Corvette convertible for the exact reasons stated in your article. I felt I could not have top-end fun in the corvette without putting my budget, license and life on the line. The MX-5 is top-end fun without breaking my wallet, my car, my body or the speed limit. :-)

DeanMcManis (not verified)    April 21, 2020 - 9:26PM

That first-fourth shift transmission lock-out was annoying, but a simple resistor inline with the transmission connector, bypassed it without having any lights or codes. I added it to my Corvette, and later my Viper. But of course most newer cars do not need those types of sneaky gas mileage aids.

Stan Adams (not verified)    April 27, 2020 - 4:05PM

I loved your selection of the Miata for your sporty car. I have a 1995 that I have owned since 2001 and have loved it I have also considered more horsepower but have vacillated between supercharger and turbocharger until I purchased an 80 volt leaf blower from Lowes. Which caused me to consider putting it into the miata. It will run 630CFM@140MPH for 18 minutes which is as long as I can see it would ever need it. (ps I am also an recovering engineer and loved your math approach to BMEP)

Alan Lieberman (not verified)    April 30, 2020 - 1:28PM

Thanks so much for your reasoning behind your preferred "fun time driving machine". I've been thinking about purchasing a Miata throughout this past winter. Whether to snag a NC or shoot for the ND is still in the decision process. I read your writings and appreciate your insight on the vehicles you test/evaluate. This recent piece reinforces my craving for a miata.

John Goreham    April 30, 2020 - 2:38PM

In reply to by Alan Lieberman (not verified)

I've logged a lot of hours in Miatas. The ND is the best by far in my opinion. Note that there are two ND versions. This year's and last have more power and it makes a difference. I'd get Nav in my Miata if possible. When you are out getting lost on purpose it actually helps you continue to find fun roads to explore. I loved the NC. If you get an NC, get one newer than a 2009. There were some nice changes. Cheers,

Doug Allen (not verified)    May 15, 2020 - 11:28AM

I have traveled faster than most alive, 525 kts at 41000 ft in a fast corporate jet. For me, my 2008 True Red Miata pleases me on the road better than any other car I have driven. It's the "affordable" sports car and a dandy at that! I so love my Miata and my wife too loves her copper red Grand Touring Miata.

Robert Law (not verified)    September 29, 2020 - 7:38PM

When I retired from the Army in 2017 I decided to purchase my dream car. I have always loved the lightweight 2 seater sports cars growing up around MGBs, 240z etc. Years earlier when working in DC my boss gave me a ride through the DC streets in his Miata. Zipping through the DC traffic in this nimble car astonished me. From that day I knew I would get one one day. I was leaning toward a NC till the ND came out. I waited about a year till I found the color I wanted. I’ve had the car for 3 years now and it still amazes me every time I get behind the wheel. It’s so much fun to take it in search of a new twisty or the occasional autocross. I’m a Miata fan for life.

Matthew (not verified)    April 7, 2021 - 7:04PM

I have my dream car - since new - 2003 MX5 SE - 6 speed - LSD - 16" rims - Bilstien - Titanium grey/blue - Boss - NO AC or ABS - just perfect! Plan on keeping it forever.

Mike Martenson (not verified)    April 8, 2021 - 5:33PM

I don’t think you’ll find many that will disagree with your assessment. I’ve owned three MX-5s, still have two. One bone stock another track ready but never raced. I love them all. I’m certain if more people would try them more would buy them. Like the old saying goes “ try it, you’ll like it!”

Doug Allen (not verified)    April 16, 2021 - 10:36AM

My wife has a NC soft top and I have a NC retractable top. We absolutely love them, they accelerate quickly, I have the Continental DWS tires on mine and they are amazing. I shall get them again once these wear out. For us, the Miata is a affordable sports car that has balance, speed, and great handling.

Joyce Clark (not verified)    May 7, 2021 - 4:39PM

I bought my first Miata in 1991. It never failed to bring a smile when driving. I have turned many a 2 or 3 hour freeway drive into a 5 or 6 hour back roads curvy roads joy. I now own an ND. Still a smile every time I take her out.

Peter Phan (not verified)    May 17, 2021 - 2:58AM

I have dream to own a sport car since 29 years olds.
I keep dream dream dream....
Now at mid 70 years old, I got one’s,I own one’s, that’s Miata NC RF , Red Grand touring .
finally, dream come through.
Just happy as much as days that my kids got through the college.
Also, today is my birthday, Happy Birthday to me!

Craig Smarr (not verified)    May 19, 2021 - 10:22AM

Great article. Just bought my 2nd Miata, a 2011 black Sport. Absolutely nothing on it... not even TC/ESC. I love it. Insanely fun to drive.

Graham (not verified)    May 22, 2021 - 5:31PM

I started off off with a Mark 1 Mazda na I now have a Mark 2 nb, and I'm running at present a 2005 Mark III NC very little trouble overall apart from sum rust for its MOT usual trouble blocked drains have removed the one way valves and everything spot on I'm now looking for 4the latest NC as it seems they are much more reliable than the mark 4 ND.

AB (not verified)    May 25, 2021 - 11:30PM

This perfectly describes why I'm in love with my FR-S. I had an NA Miata a few years back as a first car and loved it to death. Eventually, practicality caught up with me and I was forced to part ways with it as it was my only car, but I'll be damned if I wasn't going to buy another lightweight, RWD coupe. The roadster/2+2 platform is so perfect and I can't wait for EVs to become efficient and small enough to catch up to these cars. Great article.

Alex Wilson (not verified)    January 11, 2022 - 9:40AM

Went from an 2012 Audi S4 to a ND1 Miata. S4 was "better" in almost every way. 330 HP supercharge V6 with dual clutch going into AWD system with upgraded torque vectoring rear diff. Suspension adjusted 1000 times a second. Could take a highway ramp in triple digits or take 4 people to dinner in luxury. But driving it around at 3/10ths was no fun. Miata is just so much more fun and involving.

Upgraded from an ND1 to an ND2, and the new engine completes the car at just the right sweet spot in power and revs all day long. I can afford almost any car. I daily drive a ND2 Miata because it is the most fun to drive car I know.

And there is some truth that I don't want to show up at work or the grocery store in a 911 Turbo. Sure the performance is mind blowing, but you can't use it. So it becomes nothing but a display of wealth that your drive at 2/10ths. Might as well drive a Rolls or a Bentley, an exceptional machine that displays an exceptional price paid.