“Little Red Corvette turned Black Miata”

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Pretty much everyone in my age group, especially can remember the catchy little tune that Prince put out about the ‘Little Red Corvette’.   Upbeat song for sure, and who doesn’t like and/or appreciate the prestige of a well-known car classic, like the Corvette, when it comes to sportscars?  I, personally, would not pick red, but it wouldn’t sound right to change the song title to blue or black, would it?  And, whether or not you like Prince here doesn’t really matter, as you have to give the guy credit for his individuality as an artist.  But, that’s beside the point that I promise I will get to.

I’m not sure whether it was Prince’s song or the fact that each of my brothers own a Corvette, but somewhere along the line, over a decade ago, I decided that I, too, should own a little sportscar.  I worked hard to pay off my new truck at the time  (I am and will always be a truck girl, by the way), and had been thinking about buying something else, but it wasn’t in my nature to spend on something so frivolous.  I mean, I didn’t need another vehicle.  I had a perfectly good truck that I loved and negotiated the sale of all by myself.  But, I had to admit that the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of driving something else for a change–a summer car, perhaps?  Possibly even a convertible?  While I saw the appeal of the Corvette, it wasn’t my first choice.  Besides which, it was and still is, a little bit out of my price range.  Instead, it would have to be something else and it would have to be affordable.  I didn’t want outrageous payments, since I had just hit the clear, which was actually nice for a change.  ‘The clear’ didn’t last long, though…

As I had done in past years, I headed to the ‘Sports and Motor Show’ with my dad in the Spring of ’04–the very same show that’s going on this weekend in fact (the inspiration for this blog today, actually). But this time, I was there not only to have a look-see at what was new and different, but also to contemplate a purchase of some kind.  I was excited and nervous all at the same time to really check things out, but I knew that I was certainly with the right guy to help me out.  My dad (and brothers) are all-time car enthusiasts, if I’ve ever known any.  I cannot even BEGIN to tell you the makes and models of all of the vehicles they have either bought, restored, fixed-up, owned and/or sold over their lifespans.  And, if you have a question about a car, truck, tractor, piece of farm equipment, etc., you definitely go to one of them.  So, needless, to say I was in good hands in exploring the Motor Show with my dad.  It wasn’t long into things, when we spotted a little black sportscar looking so shiny and new.  Let’s face it, as a girl (though I am not trying to stereotype others), I can’t tell you much about the motor or headlights, nor do I care a whole lot…but, cute and black and shiny and, a convertible?  Well, now you’ve got my attention.  Of course, the salesman could smell my enthusiasm from a mile away (so much for being calm, cool and collected in the whole art of negotiation), and he was quick to engage us with all of the features of the pint-sized Mazda.  It was a standard, which made me shy away a bit, but my dad assured me that I could learn how to drive a stick, no problem.  He would teach me.  What scared me more, however, was the price…I hadn’t dared to look at the sticker yet, thinking it would be out of reach for sure.  But, to my own shock and amazement, it was actually several thousand dollars below the price of my truck.  ‘What?!’, I thought, ‘that can’t be right.’  But, it was….’Hmmm…maybe this whole summer car thing would be possible?’  Was I ready to actually make a purchase, though?

Trying not to be too ‘gung-ho’ about the whole thing,  we listened intently to the salesman, took his card and… walked away.  Yes, walked away.  Not easy to do, as my heart was beating a mile a minute and my mind was racing even more quickly.  ‘Should I, shouldn’t I?’, as the whole devil/angel-on-my-shoulders-bit played out each possible scenario.  I knew better than to buy at the show that night, and I certainly had some things to further contemplate.  My dad was very level-headed about things, as usual, and he was my sounding board for the rest of the night (bless his little heart), as we continued to take in the rest of the aisles of carefully crafted metal masterpieces there to entice and persuade.  I don’t know about others who explored the show that evening, but it obviously worked its magic on me, as soon thereafter, I asked my dad to accompany me to the west-end dealership, where the little, black, shiny convertible was sure to be sitting.

Indeed, there she was in the showroom, all polished up and ready for me to crawl into!  I say ‘crawl into’ quite literally, as it was definitely a tiny little thing compared to my truck, which I was used to climbing into each and every day.  The car was a 2003 model, a year old by this time, and they were ‘clearing it out’. Suspicious about its well-kept’ness’, we took a good hard look at it, and it appeared to be fine.  But, just to be sure, my brother would have to give it a good ‘once-over’ on a subsequent visit, along with a test drive, since I had never touched a standard before.  If my brother approved, I knew it would be good enough.  At the end of our first visit to the dealership, we got the lowdown on price and I decided to put a downpayment on it, so it would not sell before my brother could get there (likely a good salespitch, but I bought into it regardless).  Before doing so, though, my dad did his ‘dad part’ in questioning me about the monthly payments and asking, ‘Would I be okay with it?’.  It was then, I believe, that I cracked my Miata joke that I still use to this day, which was that the car was named, ‘Miata’ because ‘me-oughta’ have it!  My dad couldn’t help but laugh at that one, and we both knew then and there that the little black convertible sportscar would be mine.  And, sure enough, after Rob’s approval and test drive, we were taking it home.  Well, he was driving it, and I was watching carefully from behind as my dad and I followed to be sure that everything was okay.

In the following weeks, the weather changed enough such that my dad began giving me driving lessons.  God bless his patient soul, as I stalled the poor thing more than I kept it in gear.  And, hills?   Oh heavens above!  Who the heck creates a vehicle that can roll backward in such a sticky situation?!  I mean, seriously.  This whole stick shift thing couldn’t be safe, could it?  Oh, and remember my post on left-turns?  Well, Lord help me to not stall the darn thing, as I rounded corners, in front of fast-moving cars that didn’t have a clue, that I didn’t have a clue about what I was doing. Not true really, as I did have a clue thanks to my dad, but things that always seemed so easy and non-think’ish’ in an automatic, did not seem so automatic anymore.  I guess that’s why they are referred to otherwise, though nothing about it all seemed ‘standard’ to me for the first while. Two hands needed for driving, both feet working in conjunction to go and stop and then, hopefully, go again. And, the hills?  Have I mentioned the hills?  Perhaps you can tell that I am not quite over the whole hill thing yet, and like my right-hand turn only friend, I still have to carefully plan out my route when driving my Miata, so as to avoid as many hills as possible.

In spite of all of my learning how-to-drive-a-standard hardships, I do love my little Miata and have owned it now for twelve years.  Hard to believe, really.  While it’s not the same as Prince’s ‘Little Red Corvette’, it is my treasured summer sportscar which keeps me upbeat, song or no song.  And, of course, I cannot help but smile each time I drive and think of my ‘me-oughta’ have it joke.  If, in your future travels, you should happen to spot a little black Miata slowly approaching a hill, so as not to have to stop at a light, be sure to give me a friendly wave as you cruise past…I will do my best to catch up, as I take it to sixth gear and give you a very quick, but friendly wave back.  ‘Remember you need both hands now’, I hear my dad’s voice saying.

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