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New Life for an Old Miata

Ever wondered what happened to your car after you sold it or traded it in on a new ride?  Maybe not but, how about if you had owned that beloved car for 23 years and felt thrilled anytime you drove her?  For someone who is not a car lover, these may seem like superfluous questions.  But for a true car lover, they are innate in our nature.

Almost two years ago I wrote an emotional post (Finally, Time to Say Goodbye) about how hard it was to finally make the decision to give up my white 1994 Mazda Miata, affectionally known as “Marshmallow,” so named by one of our artist friends for her toasted tan colored top over miniature white body.  As I described in that post, it took me progressing through all five stages of grief before I came to that most difficult conclusion.  Although I knew it was the right decision, it still did not make parting any easier.  Ultimately, even if only to let her live on in spirit, I donated her to our local NPR radio station to help pay for future episodes of Car Talk, that NPR radio show I always enjoyed.  But, not before getting behind the wheel in her well-worn seat and taking her out for one last top-down spin over curvy roads.

Over the past 18 months, whenever I would see what is referred to as an “M1” Miata (the first body style built from 1990 through 1997) driving on the road, I would think about my Marshmallow.  Sometimes I would wonder if she had found a new home with a good owner or sadly had ended up in an auto recycling center (what people of my generation use to refer to as a junk yard).  I knew the latter was a distinct possibility since the repairs to get her back up into good running condition well exceeded her trade-in value.  However, I always envisioned the former as I could not bear the thought of her stacked among a bunch of other junk cars being scavenged part by part out of existence.

Well, my wondering came to an end in April of this year when out of the blue I was contacted by her new owner.  It was the night before my wife and I were to fly off to San Francisco to visit our son, daughter-in-law and two of our grandchildren.  Having missed the call, I received a voice mail message and a text.  Short summary of the lengthy message, he needed my help.

To understand why he contacted me in the first place, a little background information is necessary.

Part of the story that didn’t make it into that original post since it happened weeks after she was towed away was the original title was somehow lost by the tow truck company and so the organization that was handling the NPR donation and remarketing of the car asked me to request a duplicate title so they could proceed with the resell of the car.  But before I could even do that, they made a request for me to contact the original lender to demonstrate that the lien had been discharged.  I explained to them this was impossible since the credit union I bought the car through had gone out of business over ten years previous when the company I worked for was bought by another company.  Fortunately, I had scanned in the original title which clearly showed the lien had been released with official stamp and signature.

I proceeded to request a duplicate title and once received, forwarded it to the donation company.

The reason the owner was contacting me was the original title did turn up before the duplicate title was issued and used in the transaction of the vehicle.  Whatever happened to that duplicate title no one knows and the dealership he purchased the car through has since gone out of business due to the death of the owner from COVID.  But since a record of that lost duplicate title still existed in the Tennessee DMV, the owner found out when he went to sell the car that the duplicate title had superseded his title preventing him from selling.  What he needed from me was to go to the DMV and request a second duplicate title.  Can you imagine a more convoluted car story?

Once I knew what I needed to do, I began to ask him how the car was.  He proceeded to tell me he had bought it at auction and then worked to restore it.  He did a beautiful job of detailing the exterior…

…recovering the cracked leather seats…

…replacing the non-working radio…

…and even replacing the molded trunk liner.

Mechanically (which would have been the bulk of my needed repair costs), he replaced the timing belt and dead battery, installed all new steering components, restored the computer and airbag module, and tuned the engine back to factory specs.  He even fixed the door that wouldn’t close properly after a firetruck ran into it while parked.

I then shared some pictures I had taken while owning her and relayed some of the stories of her life with me which he much appreciated.

Sitting at our condo the night before we flew off, texting back and forth and sharing stories about this much-loved car, I got the greatest sense of satisfaction and happiness knowing that she had in fact ended up in good hands.  I must say the whole episode that night brought back a tear or two for my lost Marshmallow.

So, what is next for her?  Well that brings us back to the point of the contact in the first place.  Having restored her to near pristine condition and pampering her for the time he owned her, he was selling her to a father whose son also happened to have a 1994 Miata (in red, the same as my 2002 Miata).

So, after all the years with me of living side-by side with a sister eight years her junior, this classic girl, now in her late 20s was going to spend her foreseeable future having fun zipping around curvy roads with another red roadster her own age.

Have many years of fun my sweet Marshmallow with your newest sister!

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