The Mazda Miata has been with us for well over three decades, becoming the best-selling two-seat sports car in history along the way. Miatas were popular as quasi-sensible commuter cars in North America well into our current century, which means that I should have been seeing at least a couple in every junkyard I’ve visited for at least the last 15 years. In fact, I still see many more discarded MGBs and Fiat 124 Sport Spiders than I do Miatas, so this reasonably intact ’93 in Crystal White paint caught my attention immediately (naturally, there was an ’81 Fiat Spider 2000 a few rows away).
Since 2007, when I started writing about interesting vehicles in car graveyards, I’ve seen at least a couple of discarded Fiat 124 Sport Spiders per year. In fact, I was finding these cars in junkyards when you could still buy them new, back when I was hitting the yards of Hayward in search of parts for my ’69 Toyota Corona. These days, most Sport Spiders you’ll find at your local Ewe Pullet will be 1976-1980 models (I still haven’t managed to find any junked examples of the Pininfarina-badged mid-1980s Spiders that Malcolm Bricklin sold as Azzurras), so today’s ’70 is quite a rare Junkyard Find.
Yes, you read that headline correctly. For the upcoming 2022 model year, Mazda has binned the automatic transmission in all trims of the sporty MX-5 roadster save for its most spendy spec, the Grand Touring. Don’t say Hiroshima isn’t doing its part to #SaveTheManuals.
The Mini Convertible will continue for the foreseeable future, with a new model to come in 2025.
“There is great demand for the latest, freshly updated model,” Bernd Körber, Head of the Mini brand said. “The vehicle’s future success is convincing.”
Zesty yellow is the new, exclusive color for 2022 Mini convertibles. However, there’s no indication that yellow ragtops are fueling that demand.
Volkswagen sold the air-cooled Beetle in the United States all the way through 1979, amazingly, overlapping Dasher and Rabbit sales by more than you’d have expected. By that time, the only air-cooled VW left standing here was the Beetle convertible (if you want to get nit-picky, that car was really a Super Beetle, since the last year for the original not-so-super Beetle was 1977 here and all the Beetle convertibles were Supers after 1971). I’ve never found a ’79 Beetle in the junkyard, though I’ve tried my best, but here’s the next-best thing: a ’78 in a Denver self-serve yard last year.
The Mazda MX-5 is the automotive embodiment of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.’ Despite having gone through several generations since its debut in 1989, the Miata has remained remarkably consistent. But the industry believes there’s a subset of motorists who absolutely cannot live without vehicular connectivity and active safety technologies, even on a petite roadster that’s supposed to be focused on entirely on driver engagement.
This is why Mazda sells the luxury-oriented Grand Touring trim and has decided to continue sprucing it up for the 2021 model year. Though we cannot say this makes it the best option for everyone.
BMW has applied its new corporate grille to the 4-Series and nixed the retractable hardtop from the convertible in exchange for a ragtop that helps the model dump unnecessary weight. While the softer sunshine rig sounds relatively impressive, this will likely be a lateral move for most fans. The brand’s elongated Hitler mustache grille hasn’t gone over with everybody and a soft top certainly seems less premium. But BMW thinks it can win customers over on practicality and substance.
For starters, the new system offers a smidgen more headroom (just 0.2 inches) and has improved thermal insulation and sound dampening to keep it on par with the outgoing hardtop. It also takes up less space when stowed and only takes 18 seconds to do so at speeds at or below 31 mph.
Quick, what was the final new Pontiac model introduced before the marque’s demise in 2010? The G3, a Pontiac-badged Chevy Aveo (itself a rebadged Daewoo Kalos, which makes The Final Pontiac first cousin to the Ravon Nexia R3). We remember a Pontiac model from slightly earlier in the chaos of mid-to-late-2000s GM much better: the Solstice, a mean-looking sports car that showed great promise but went down with the Pontiac ship in 2010.
I saw my first discarded Solstice last year in Colorado Springs, and now I’ve found this much cleaner one in Denver.
They’re coming for our cars, people. “Alternative mobility solutions” are all the rage at many big automakers attempting to virtue signal (and electric-scooter) their way into social acceptability. I’m pretty certain that I heard a sweaty politician say something like, “Hell yes, we are going to take your crossover!” Even some automotive journalists have called for outright bans of private cars.
I suppose this is where I photoshop a Momo Prototipo into the infamous “from my cold, dead hands” Charlton Heston photo.
Do me a favor, friends. Let’s stem the tide. Take these car-haters for a ride in a proper sports car, like this 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF. Better yet, let them drive. All other worries of the world wipe away like raindrops on the windscreen as the right hand slots the shift lever into third, all while the corners of the mouth gently turn upward. The Miata is our last hope for motoring freedom.
BMC and then British Leyland churned out MG Midgets and near-identical Austin-Healey Sprites for 20 years, with the final example coming off the Abingdon line in 1980. Because project-grade Midgets still clutter garages, driveways, yards, and fields throughout the land and they’re not worth much, the clock runs out for many of them every year.
The next stop, usually, is among the Sephias and Jettas of the IMPORTS section at a self-service wrecking yard. Here’s a forlorn ’79 I spotted last week in California.
The Dodge Shadow and its Plymouth Sundance sibling were among the last members of the extended Chrysler K-car family to be built, sold from the 1987 through 1994 model years and replaced by the Neon after that. Millions were sold, but these cars are all but forgotten today. Chrysler built a handful of convertible Shadows, perhaps inspired by GM’s feat of selling some Geo Metro convertibles, and I’ve found this ’91 in a North Carolina self-service yard.