Although I’ve touched upon this subject before, I think it bears reapeating: how great is the MX-5 at punching above its weight? Or perhaps it’s good at punching because of its weight, or lack thereof.
his fact was highlighted to me again recently having been lucky enough to drive the latest Porsche 992-series of the iconic 911. It sometimes sounds as thought I’ve got it in for Porsche, but as I also have an elderly Boxster 3.2S on my driveway, you can be assured that I’m actually a big fan of the marque. It’s simply that of the modern sports cars I’m more likely to drive a Porsche than anything else. So feel free to aim this reference at BMW, Audi, Mercedes-AMG, Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini…
Thing is, the 992 was mega. So very, very fast. So comfortable. So convenient. So loaded with every possible electronic gizmo and then some. I felt honoured and spoilt to have been behind its multi-function steering wheel. Picking up my just-mended and newly MOT’d mk1 was sure to be a gloomy disappointment in comparison. The prospect robbed me of the excitement of our reunion after its lengthy stay at Cleverley Repaired Cars.
But what do I know? The opposite was true. My clunking, thunking, rattly old relic was an uplifting joy from the moment I fell into its lowslung and slightly weary driver’s seat. We established an instant mechanical connection whereby every command I made was met by an appropriately analogue response. Character when attributed to a car is notoriously difficult to quantify, but in the case of my mk1 it feels like I’ve gone out for a blast with a mate. It’s a relationship, a close one. That’s what was missing from the Porsche. It was clinically impressive, but it didn’t feel like a friend. So when I got back in my car the lack of pace, space, grace and substance didn’t matter a jot.
Talking of MX-5s using quirky character to muscle past their humble origins, I urge you to read our story on the Frankenmiata on page 36. It’s a brilliantly entertaining tale about how a group of American engineers went endurance racing on a budget of $500 including the cost of the car and its race mods. The engine was made up out of four wrecked ones, the radiator is in the passenger seat area, and the rear wing is from an aeroplane, turned upside down. This is ingenuity at its creative best. Enjoy!