The amazing adventures of Burtle the turtle – and why sadly the mx5 is the best car in the world


About a month ago I acquired my new car , a 1996 1.8 uk model mazda mx5 in black, this made me both happy and sad for a few reasons. It was great as I was finally back on the road with my own set of keys and I had scratched the real wheel drive itch. But for two reasons I was kind of sad about picking my new car up from the train station , firstly I didn’t really want to go down the well trodden path of an mx5 and writing here singing its praises making you as bored as I was reading all the glowing reviews for japans favorite son. I didn’t want to be so obvious and was trying so hard to find an alternative that was available for my low funds/time constraints. But all I could find was a ropey ss1 reliant which to me may be ironic cool, but the cvh engine sounded like it ran on hammers. The other reason I was sad was that for all this car I only paid a grand , and with several big trips on the horizon I couldn’t shake the feeling I should have gotten something more practical and a little worse just for the sake of longevity.


The original plan for the car was to buy it to keep my no claims bonus going and leave it sat for a month while I finished off my long and important uni dissertation , but Burtle as hes become affectionately known didn’t really allow that to work. The first drive was meant to be a routine trip to the supermarket with a small drive around Manchester to check all was well with the car, off course this drive ended up being a 60 mile tour of the satellites of Manchester, then 2 days later a trip to get a steering lock ended up with me going home to Sheffield to have a hunt for my old one. Trips soon got more and more ridiculous as my laptop and thermodynamics notes went dusty , a trip for some quick food ended up with me going on an impromptu northern wales whistle-stop driving tour. My addiction to driving this car bordered on the insane, and when I look back at all the glowing reports I realized how right they were , the mk1 mx5 in particular is brilliant but its not like Mazda ever lost its way. People in this country at least went mental for the mgf , mr2, S2000 and barchetta in the nineties but only one name remains today (well thats not without mg’s sad trying and the fiat will make a return of sorts thanks to the new mx5).


The way I see it is the mx5 is a car for special occasions which can be used for any occasion, the simple joys can be enjoyed as much in a traffic jam playing with the pop up lights as it can blasting past Bala lake. The car screams fun but it doesn’t make you feel silly having the fun. The car has a great amount of luggage space, an interesting but not stupidly humongous engine and off course a brilliantly overpowered heater meaning the roof can be down in a blizzard and it would still feel like the gates of hades in the car. Then you get to the perfect slick gearchange and that’s pretty much any mx5 review your ever going to read , its hard to be objective on a car that’s just so perfect, you just want to climb to the top of the tallest mountain and scream hyperbole till the cows come home. The only real negative I can think of is the tired hair dressers car comments but that’s usually the argument of a dullard driving a mk4 golf sdi fitted to high heaven with r32 badges and bumpers, and they’re the last people i want respect from anyway. The car is just perfect and there’s nothing else to it, it saved my bacon last weekend when i needed it to be just a car and drive my girlfriend home to Dartford for me to then head straight back out to meet my parents at the edge of wales (been there twice in the space of 3 weeks). Almost 600 miles carrying two people’s luggage and the car took everything the weather and roads had to throw at it and on the run I even almost hit 40mpg which for me wasn’t too bad at all. But none of this is the reason why the mx5 is the greatest car of them all.


The real reason lies with my mum, a woman petrified with the mere thought of driving a car, a woman who swears worse than Wesley Snipes when anyone gets within a casms width of her car. Her history in cars is not an amazing one, as far as I can remember the only true standout interesting car was the sj410 samurai she drove me to school in in the nineties. This all changed last October, when my mums poor old panda 1.3 multijet diesel bit the dust at when some berk pulled out into it. When I heard the news 40 miles away in uni I was sure this would be the end of my mums driving career, I believed the fear would be too much now to go on. But to my shock 12 days later when the insurance company paid out I got this picture;


To my surprise with the input of my Dad my mum was convinced to get a mk3 mx5. This was insane to me, my dad being famous to me for saying he would never drive a petrol car again convincing my petrified mother to get a sportscar. Now my mum is still no Michael Schumacher as the mx5 takes on cool cruiser responsibilities, but its amazing how much the car changed my mums opinion of driving. Its no longer a necessary evil and the car gets regular cleans as if it truly was her baby. A car that could convince my mum to drive for the fun of it is nothing short of a miracle. And thats the real reason the mx5 is the greatest car in the world, it works for me and a million other petrolheads but it also works as a foot in the door for the unconverted. The new car seems to be another hit with the press , and should have no issue converting yet more people to the world of cars, I really get the feeling both Nissan and Mazda don’t just make a car because it makes sense or will sell in ridiculous numbers but because they want too and as a reward for the Mazda 2’s and Nissan Jukes they reward themselves with a silly fun car now and then (just look how long mazda tried to make the impossible rotary engine to work). But for both companies it does prove if you do what you love the money will follow.

I would write more , but i’m still in wales for one more day and the roads here are too good to resist.

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