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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Miata 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.
What 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.