Frugal Friday, Mazda Edition

This is the 40th consecutive day I have posted. I will definitely not post on Saturday and/or Sunday. <Rant About Viewer Numbers> In the last week the number of viewers has dropped dramatically. I don’t know if that’s a function of summer approaching or just random or whatever. I do know that I do not have an infinite amount of time. It takes me much longer to research and to write each post than it does to read one. Yes, I realize it might be considered silly to complain about lack of readers to people who are reading. Maybe I’m just deluding myself about the quality of this blog. Anyway, I am asking once again that if you like this blog please tell others about it and share the blog URL ( <End Rant>


From 56packardman comes this hilarious and yet troubling GIF:



I have read that more than 6,000 people die every year in the US because they are distracted by their cell phone. I don’t know if that figure includes distracted driving.


This week’s Frugal Friday was inspired by the most recent episode of Wheeler Dealers where the featured car was a first-generation Mazda RX-7. A shout-out to my friend Carl who owned one of those a long time ago.



From this Hemmings listing a picture of a 1984 RX-7. Of the seven first-generation RX-7s listed in Hemmings the most expensive was only $16,995. This high-mileage example (about 112,000 miles) is listed at $12,995. It is in Brown over Brown and has a manual transmission although the ad doesn’t seem to indicate if it’s a four-speed or five-speed and I’m not wading through 67 photos to find out.

The RX-7 was, of course, powered by a Wankel rotary engine. Instead of pistons moving up and down inside of cylinders the power is generated by a rotor(s) moving around in a metal casing. All parts rotate in one direction, as opposed to the common reciprocating piston engine, which has pistons instantly and rapidly changing direction 180 degrees. Proponents of this engine claim it is simpler than the standard piston engine, but in the real world problems with oil leakage and emissions doomed it to the dustbin. However, Mazda is supposedly bringing the rotary engine back to be used in a new hybrid power plant.

The RX-7 was a very successful car for Mazda. Over 800,000 were produced in three generations from 1978 to 2002. I think the first-generation has a great look, simple yet stylish.


Speaking of successful Mazda cars:



From this Hemmings listing a picture of a 1995 Mazda MX-5 Miata being offered for sale at $6,000. It is another high-mileage car (about 135,000 miles), but at $6,000 you could put another $3,000 in it and still have a nice car for four figures. It is in Dark Blue Metallic over Black with a Black top. Given its year this example is powered by a 1.8 liter/112 cubic-inch inline 4-cylinder engine producing 128 HP/110 LB-FT of torque and is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission.

Being a 1995 this Miata is an NA or first-generation model. The Miata is, of course, still being produced and is currently in the ND or fourth generation. I don’t know if Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear and The Grand Tour fame really wrote this, but allegedly these are his words:


“I realise that the hairy-chested among you will be scoffing and tutting and heading straight for this column on the internet so you can speak your mind. You will say ‘girl’s car’ and ‘gay’ and all sorts of other things.

Well, that’s fine. You waste your money on a Mustang or a Ferrari. The fact is that if you want a sports car, the MX-5 is perfect. Nothing on the road will give you better value. Nothing will give you so much fun. The only reason I’m giving it five stars is because I can’t give it 14.”


You could buy both of these cars at the list price, spend $5,000 on repairs and still be more than $10,000 below the average “transaction price” for a new vehicle in the US. Long live Frugal Friday!






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More Monday Mishmash

I don’t think I’ve ever posted three times in one day, until now.

Maurice and I have been having a text exchange all morning, spurred by this post about this car:

From a picture of a Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Maurice asked me what I thought was more important in a daily driver, power or handling. Not copping out, I replied that I believe it’s a great balance of styling, engineering and comfort that makes a great car. The reason I loathe the look of cars that are “slammed” to the ground and have giant wheels is because the look is totally out of balance. The C2 Corvette looked great with 15-inch wheels; why does anyone think they need 22-inch wheels to look better? Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but a lot of custom cars make my eyes hurt.

When I worked in baseball I did a study of the records of teams that had either: A) led their league in runs scored AND allowed the most or, B) allowed the fewest runs but also scored the fewest. Granting that ballpark effects play a role in such extreme teams, what was the aggregate win-loss records of the two groups? While I don’t know if this is still true, at the time of the study—about 25 years ago—the aggregate win-loss records of both groups was a shade BELOW .500. These teams represent the extreme in imbalance and were not successful. (So much for baseball is 90% pitching and defense.)

A balanced approach to almost everything is usually optimal. Eat, but not too much. Exercise, but don’t overdo it. Sleep, but not too much or too little. The same goes for cars. That’s why I actually prefer the small-block C2 Corvettes because in my opinion the big-block (available beginning in 1965) ruins the weight and handling balance of the car.

What do you think makes a great car?


A total shift…I want to end with a remark by Milton Friedman:

“A society that puts equality—in the sense of equality of outcome [emphasis mine]—ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to achieve equality will destroy freedom. On the other hand, a society that puts freedom first will, as a happy by-product, end up with both greater freedom and greater equality.”

In my opinion, equality of outcome is impossible and is an insane policy goal. A country will chase its tail forever.

More Miata Might

From Automobile Magazine an article about how Mazda is boosting the horsepower on the MX-5 Miata.

From a picture of the MX-5 Miata. I have always thought that these cars were handsome and nimble, but underpowered. I’m not sure 181 HP (up from 155) is enough, but the increase should make the car even more fun to drive. Yes, torque was increased by a “whopping” 3 LB-FT from 148 to 151.

Among my obsessions is one for two-seat roadsters. Light cars don’t need excessive amounts of horsepower and torque to push you back in the seat, but give them some real power and you can have some real fun. The Z4 that I drive was rated at 300 HP/300 LB-FT of torque stock. Although the car is nine years old, with all of the modifications—the most significant of which was a Dinan Stage 2 upgrade—I’m guessing the car has about 365-370 HP and 375-380 LB-FT of torque. That’s more power than the 2002 Corvette I used to own. Why haven’t I taken the car to a dyno shop? The reason is, of course, I expect the worst to happen and the engine to blow up if I pushed it on the dyno.

I don’t know enough about the engine architecture of the Miata—or of its companion, the revived Fiat 124 Spider, which has a different engine—to know if a turbo would be a practical factory option. Still, imagine a 250 HP/225 LB-FT engine powering the car. It’s a shame that manufacturing automobiles is virtually the sole domain of large companies, by necessity I might add. Large companies cannot make and implement decisions quickly. It was obvious to me and many others that the new generation Miata was underpowered as originally offered, yet its power boost comes in the fifth model year of production.

I also have a bone to pick with those that the say the MX-5 Miata is the best-selling two-seat sports car in history, including the Guinness Book of World Records. Roughly one million Miatas have been sold, an impressive number. More than 1.7 million Corvettes have been sold, though.

What do you think of the Miata? Do you like two-seat roadsters/sports cars? As always, I would very much like to read your opinions.


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