22
Jan
09

twisted metal

miata-damage-09d

 Today was a great day!  Until the day turned into night and someone decided they didn’t really  have to pay attention to traffic before pulling onto Burbank boulevard.  I wish I could tell you that the picture above is a prop car, or some amazingly realistic CGI creation, but no, it is my once gallant, graceful and gleaming gold Miata, now badly in need of a medic.

I’ve never been a typical car-freak kinda guy.  I grew up in NYC, where most sane folk stay away from automobiles.  I didn’t even get my license until I moved to California when I was 24, for the simple reason that I wasn’t exposed to car-culture mentality.  Even in high school, I could tell you everything you needed to know about Vipers and TIE Fighters, but Mustangs and Cameros?  Welcome to the blank stare.

In fact, cars weren’t even a blip on the radar for me until the day I took a ride in a Miata.  Back in 1992, when I was briefly working in Kansas at Newtek (the company that makes Lightwave BSG’s primary visual effects software), the owners flew everyone out to LA for the premiere of Jurassic Park.  Miatas were still fairly new and popular, so all the guys rented one and I went along for the ride.

Wow.  Naturally, I had been a passenger in countless vehicles, but this time it was different.  It’s hard to say exactly what it was, but the combination of having the top down in the perfect LA weather, the sound and styling of the car and the way it effortlessly swung around curves just made me giddy.  For the first time in my life, I wanted a car.  This car.

So, when we got back to Kansas, I learned how to drive, got a license and bought a silver 1991 Miata, much like this one:

silver_1991

I had a lot of fun with that car, and it served me well until 2003, when, with a scant 240,000 miles on the clock and still running strong, someone felt the need to make a left turn straight into me.  Of course, by this point I was hooked (you’ll find that, much like sci-fi fans, Miata fans are an enthusiastic, loyal breed) so I knew my next car would be another Miata.  I really liked the silver look, so I figured I’d pick up a used 1999 silver Mark II (1999 was the year Mazda redesigned the car).

It was at that time, in 2003, as I was hunting around online, that I caught my first glimpse of the gold Miata.  Where the hell did this  come from?  I thought I knew everything about this car, but I had never even  heard of this color before.  I did a little snooping around and found out why:  they only ever made 300 of them, all in the year 2000.  But one look at this rare gem and I knew I had to have her:

march08

What’s not to love?  Sleek, elegant sporty and – to me – the perfect balance of flashy yet tasteful.  But, given the short production run, I knew it would be no easy task to land one.  I spent a month searching far and wide and found a few, scattered all over the country.   Much to my frustration, each one I found would reveal some sort of fatal flaw – the first one (Seattle) had ridiculously high miles, the second (Utah) had been in an accident, the third (Texas) was perfect but suffered hail damage the day after I told the dealer I would buy it and the fourth one (South Carolina) turned out to be a scam.

For a while I thought it just wasn’t going to happen but then finally, a shining, orange beacon of hope sliced through the darkness – from Rhode Island!  Ultimately, I found the perfect, low mileage and pampered gold Miata 3300 miles away.  So, I hopped on a plane, bought the car and drove it home, making it perhaps the longest victory lap in automotive history.

Six years later, in 2009, she still looks like new, runs perfectly and puts a smile on my face every time I hop in.

That is, until tonight.  Tonight, some unthinking A-hole who’s excuse for not looking at traffic was “I was trying to follow my friend” hit me where it really hurts.  Fortunately, I acted fast and swerved out of the way just enough to avoid a T-bone (the car in the lane next to me made it impossible to get completely out of the way). 

miata-damage-09c As bad as the damage looks, I was shocked and delighted to discover that I could drive away from the scene.  In fact,  driving the car betrays not a hint of anything amiss.  Nothing is scraping the tire, the wheel is straight, my alignment is still perfect and there is nary a hint of wobble; I can’t detect any leaks and everything in the engine compartment is still where it should be. 

Might I have been lucky enough to avoid any frame or suspension damage?  In a car like this, cosmetic maladies mean nothing – you could drop napalm on the car, replace the entire body and it will still run perfectly.  But if slam your tire into a curb at 15 MPH, even though you may see absolutely nothing wrong, you could bend the frame and the car will never be the same again – no matter what  all the king’s horses and all the king’s men do.

What all this means is that if I am really lucky, and the gods feel pity and smile upon me,  despite the mess you see pictured I may have miraculously managed to get hit at just the right speed and angle to avoid any true structural damage.

Please, my dear readers, pray for me!   And as Dirk Benedict is my witness, if my car checks out A-OK I’ll do an entire week of Battlestar  posts.

So say we all!


29 Responses to “twisted metal”


  1. 1 _pole
    January 22, 2009 at 3:26 am

    “…if my car checks out A-OK I’ll do an entire week of Battlestar posts.”

    -> Well NOW you’ve got us praying! :D

    But seriously, that sucks. I hope it can be fixed. And let us know, will ya?

  2. 2 Boris
    January 22, 2009 at 5:31 am

    Now why am I not surprised about your choice of colors?

  3. 3 Andy
    January 22, 2009 at 5:39 am

    Sorry to hear the news, at least you came out unhurt, thats a nice looking car, hope you get it sorted soon.

  4. 4 Peter von Frosta
    January 22, 2009 at 7:19 am

    I hope the other guy had insurance. Looking at the damage from a distance I’d say that you probably have to replace the complete right side. That sucks :(

  5. 5 The Hey
    January 22, 2009 at 7:19 am

    As someone that witnessed your acquisition of this car first hand I really feel bad as I know what this car means to you.

    Hope it works out.

  6. January 22, 2009 at 7:33 am

    Wow, it looks a wonderful car, and hopefully it can be fixed.

  7. January 22, 2009 at 7:52 am

    Glad you’re OK, hope the Miata is too (and not just ’cause I want a week of posts.)

  8. January 22, 2009 at 8:01 am

    As someone who does this for a living, I can tell you my quick photo-triage skills tell me this is minor. Tyrol can have this bird flying in time for your next CAP….uh… I mean… it looks pretty cosmetic. Maybe some welding on that A pillar (front of the door) but I am looking forward to that week of posts! (of course, matching the paint might be an issue…)

  9. January 22, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Oh, man I’m sorry to hear that! I’m visiting LA at the moment, learning and jobhunting – if a beer would make you feel better, I’m for-sure buying – I owe you for inspiring me to do 3D in the first place.

    I know what it’s like for Treasured Things to get dinged. Best of luck with the frame.

  10. 10 Star
    January 22, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Ouch! So sorry. My 1995 Miata is my baby – I wanted one from the day they came out, having loved English roadsters forever, but not wanting to deal with the oil leaks – so I can understand your fascination for the darling little things. Hope your rare golden beauty is fine re: her frame!

  11. January 22, 2009 at 11:16 am

    Yowch! And it sounds like you don’t have much luck in avoiding getting whomped — mind you, that’s L.A. for you, too (one of the reasons I loved driving around in my big old shit-brown Caddy was that the thing looked like the automotive version of an aging wrestler…when you saw that scarred monster coming at you, you got the hell out of the way.)

    Here’s hoping all’s okay, and that the damage is mainly cosmetic. I do know how Miata owners can be — I’ve known quite a few in my time.

  12. January 22, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Wow, that really sucks. Glad no one was hurt. I got rear-ended a little over a year ago when a woman in rush-hour traffic during the Christmas shopping frenzy decided to use the bumper of my car to stop her van rather than wear down her brake pads. (I think she was on the phone and not paying attention.) No one was hurt, but I was royally cheeved.

    I hope you get your cool little car fixed and back to fighting shape! But you need a Centurion hood ornament on that thing. Or at least dangling from the rear view mirror. :-)

  13. 13 Greg
    January 22, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Ow. Ow. Ow. My wife looks at me like I’ve lost my mind every time I tell her I want to ditch my Xterra and get a Miata. I’ve wanted one for years ever since I got my first chance to drive on back in ’99. Good luck getting her all fixed up!

  14. January 22, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    I already felt sorry for you after just seeing the picture of your car, but after reading your stuff over at cardomain.com its even worse. I hope you’ll be able to fix it! A neighbour of mine has one in black and its really eyecandy.

  15. 15 darthmojo
    January 22, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    MIKE: I hope you’re right! As I look at the pictures I notice there is no evidence of a hard impact, which is what does the real damage. Everything is torn up, but I’m optomistic.

    I called in the claim to his insurance company, but he had not contacted them yet. I’m surprised he didn’t call it in immediately. Now they have to call him and make sure he tells the same story. If he begins to hem and haw, I assume I’ll have everyone’s support to put together an angry mob?

  16. January 22, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Man, I’m so sorry… I gasped out loud when I loaded the post and saw the photo at the top, almost made ME cry! I hope it’s as cosmetic as it looks, the Bluesmobile & I will be praying to the Tiki for you.

  17. January 23, 2009 at 11:36 am

    You fly me out to L.A. and I’ll be part of whatever mob you want!! I’ll even bring pitchforks and torches!! :-D

  18. January 23, 2009 at 11:51 am

    maybe you should purchase a car that can withstand future A-hole impacts, like a Volvo, or a Le Car ? – bro

  19. 19 Jasonof2000
    January 26, 2009 at 8:41 am

    Sorry to hear about the accident! Have you ever autocrossed your car? Miata’s are excellent cars for cone dodging thanks to the small size, light weight and excellent suspension.
    I have a low mileage 97 and I love it.

  20. January 26, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Ugh – that sucks!

    My sister owned a Miata, until she got married and decided to have children – they are definitely cool cars!

    Best of Luck with yours – I hope that nothing fatal is lurking, and it will be repaired, as good as new!

  21. 21 Loscoz
    January 27, 2009 at 6:14 am

    One of your facts is misleading…
    there were 300-800 of your ‘version’ with the tan leather interior & top made for the US… across the pond in Europe and Japan there were another 500. Also include the 2500 made with black cloth interior & black vinyl top (as mine is) for the US and another 1000 or so for again, Europe & Japan.
    EVOLUTION ORANGE (not gold as you care to refer to & I have personally met the Japanese gentleman responsible for naming this color) color is the 2nd rarest production color ever made. It follows a _____ baby blue whose color was discontinued because the paint booth caught fire & all paint was destroyed. Evolution Orange had a poor selling at dealerships and was discontinued and the paint booth was given to the next special edition color of Black Cherry Mica.

    ANYWAYS.. sorry to see such damage it makes me cringe thinking of that happening to my baby but, at least you are fine & a great auto body shop will be able to make her all pristine & pretty.

  22. 22 darthmojo
    January 28, 2009 at 2:02 am

    LOSCOZ: There are 644 “Evolution Orange” Miatas in the USA, only half of which have the tan leather/top option – I was rounding off to 300. So my facts are not misleading. Did you know that only 2 of them are automatic?

    And in Europe, the color is known as “Evolution Gold,” so I am not incorrect for referring to it as “gold.” It sounds better than orange, anyway.

  23. 23 Boris
    January 28, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Going by the pictures, “orange” seems a bit more accurate. Wouldn’t “gold” be more yellowish and reflective?

  24. 24 Steve Moore
    January 31, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    I’m not a Sci-fi fan at all…but am a huge Miata fan. Had a Laguna blue 94 and now have a Laguna Blue 95. Similar to your EVO, they are a rare color. Sure hope your’s is repairable. If not will you buy an NC (the new version? or will you look for another EVO? If you’d like some help searching the net let me know, I’d be happy to help.

    Are you a member of Miata.net? Could you tell me where you found the info about only two EVOs being automatics?

    Thanks,
    Steve
    95 Laguna

  25. January 31, 2009 at 6:52 pm

    Any news on your car?

  26. February 16, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Ouch! Hope the insurance takes care of it. Maybe get them to cover an express shipment of Chino Bandido to make you feel better…

    Lee

  27. 28 AvataR
    March 7, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    I had a similar accident in my black 1999 Mazda Roadster – what Japan calls the Miata – while driving in said country. A school teacher didn’t see me coming the other way,tried to turn and hit me on the side.

    My car was easily drivable after the accident, but hers wasn’t. The front right wheel was almost torn off and a couple of chunks of body panel from her white Honda had come loose and stuck in the crevice where the door meets the front body panel.

    The bodies of these cars are built to be strong as they have to compensate for not having the roof structure. That said, I wouldn’t want to be in one that rolled over.

    I will agree with you, Mojo, that the Miata/MX-5/Roadster is a joy to drive. Sure, it doesn’t have an exceptional amount of grunt or staight-line speed, but it’s so much fun to take it through a corner.

    It’s no wonder it’s the best-selling sports car of all time.

  28. January 19, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Found your post about your Evo Orange Miata damage. I too am an owner of a Evo Orange Miata and it was perfect until some A-hole here in St. Louis decided to chunk a 25 lbs brick through the passenger side window and dent the hell out of the top of the door. My heart sank when I found the damage. Needless to say, now I’m trying to find a place that can “MATCH” the paint when I get it repaired soon. Do you have any suggestions? I’d be very Evo Orange Grateful. Thank you. Evo Owner, St. Louis, MO


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