It was January two years ago that I celebrated 15 years owning this 2002 Red Miata, affectionally named “Fireball” (short for Atomic FireBall, one of my wife’s favorite candies at the time I bought it). And the December before that, I celebrated 20 years owning my other Miata, a 1994 nicknamed “Marshmallow” (so named by one of our artist friends for its toasted tan colored top over miniature white body).
Then last year, the Marshmallow celebrated reaching “classic” car status reaching the 25-year-old milestone.
Well recently, my 2002 Miata reached another milestone with me—100,000 miles!
Admittedly, 100,000 is not a lot of miles for a 17-year-old vehicle (less than 6,000 miles annually). But for most of those years, the ‘02 was not the only car I owned and had available to drive on a regular basis. It was joined first by a 2006 Mini Cooper S, then by a 2012 Fiat 500, and now finally by a 2016 Subaru WRX. However, for its first four years with me, the ’02 Miata was the only car I had and thus was my daily driver. It also is the one car I have not “loaned” out either to my wife or kids, so those 100,000 miles are for the most part my miles.
With cars lasting much longer today than they used to in the poor-quality days of the 1970s, a more significant milestone in the 21st century is probably an odometer hitting 250,000 miles. I recall “Click and Clack” of NPR Car Talk affectionately citing a car reaching 250,000 miles as having made a one-way trip to the moon. Well between my two Miatas, I have reached that 250,000-mile mark since the Marshmallow hit 150,000 miles in 2016.
But still, hitting 100,000 miles seems good cause for a little celebration.
When I wrote about the Fireball reaching an age of 15 years old (Going on Sweet 16), I chronicled many of the trips where those miles were logged. In the two and a half years since then, I have only put an additional 5,203 miles on her to reach this 100,000-mile mark, miles which have mostly been in-town. So, there are not any new exciting trips to expound upon.
Rather it seems appropriate not to look so much to the past but as to the future of this fun little car.
I also wrote recently that having owned a 2016 WRX for two years now has changed my perspective on the kind of car I enjoy driving and I went so far as to speculate that a WRX might actually be my last sports car. It took me on my last trip to run the Tail of the Dragon and will also be my ride the next time I drive that exhilarating road.
So, you might think that this 2002 Miata might be relegated to living in the garage with little driving opportunities. But the fact is, I still love to drive this car with the top down. When the weather is right, there is nothing better than zooming down the road with the top down and the wind in my hair. And I still look forward to that first top-down ride with one of my grandchildren once they get old enough to sit in the front seat.
Just being 17 years old, it does not have the comfortable ride of a new car. In fact, a funny story, I recently upgraded my Fitbit to one of the newest models and discovered that the internal accelerometer must be more sensitive as the first time I wore it and drove in this Miata with the top down, I later saw that it had recorded my time in the car as 18 minutes of outdoor biking. If only burning calories were that easy.
As I have mentioned in previous car posts, most of our long road trips in the future will be taken in either my wife’s Subaru Outback or my WRX. As such, I suspect the next significant milestone this car will reach will likely not be a mileage one but an age one. Because I would never consider selling it.
I learned the thrill of top down driving in a convertible when I was in college over 40 years ago and that pleasure has not diminished. My future driving of both my 1994 Miata and this 2002 Miata will likely focus on those fair weather opportunities. So, the Fireball and I will be together for the long term and I suspect we will enjoy each other’s company for many years to come.