Story & photo – Joseph Boyle
A long, long time ago at the Towne Center Starbucks, I met this guy named Ronnie McKinney. The first time I laid eyes on him, I knew he was not a guy use to shyly blending into the crowd.
When he entered Starbucks, the joint came alive. While he was never loud or aggressive, he gave off a certain magnetism that caused others to gather at his table. He could always be seen sitting with six or so guys and gals. The talking, laughing and story telling was obviously contagious.
I noticed two things before he ever said a word. The first was his yellow Corvette convertible backed into his parking space with the top down. The second was his yellow leather Corvette jacket and maybe some yellow Corvette shoes to match. I am not certain about the shoes, but I think it makes for a better story.
Well, there is no doubt about it. Ronnie is a car guy.
Just a few years after high school, he was down in the Tacoma tide flats when he spotted rows of brightly colored new Miata sports cars. They were all lined up, after having just been delivered by ship from Hiroshima, Japan.
Ronnie just loved the Miata, but he was a kid starting out in life back in the early 1990s. He could not visualize ever being able to afford an $18,000 Miata.
The idea for the Miata design was germinated way back in 1976. All the small British sports cars of the 1950s and 1960s had disappeared. Cars like Triumph Spitfire, Austin Healey Sprite, MG MGB, and the Lotus Élan were not being manufactured any longer.
The first Miata came out in 1989. Ronnie’s youthful dream never died. Fifteen years after seeing the Miata, he realized his dream. The year was 2004 and the car was bright red. The Miatas originally were only available in the patriotic colors of red, white and blue.
Ronnie told me once he sat in one, without even driving the car; he just had to own one to see what all the excitement was about. Ronnie has probably owned 24 Miatas. All of his friends and some of his relatives currently own Miatas, 14 all total. Ronnie made it happen.
Behind every Miata, Ronnie has a story as to how he found the car, purchased the car and took delivery. He has found Miatas close to home and at great distances out of state.
Sellers, wanting just one more road trip in their beloved Miata have agreed to drive the car 100s of miles to deliver it to Ronnie in Lakewood before flying back home.
Ronnie found a Miata for his nephew. His nephew now blames Uncle Ronnie for breaking his face; yes his face hurts. You see, uncle and nephew bought the Miata and then promptly drove to Utah. The nephew was grinning ear to ear the entire trip, so much so, his face hurt.
The open roadster experience is hard to explain. The only way to know what draws Ronnie to the Miata convertible is to sit in one and drive it down the road. It is an infectious and subliminal vehicular experience. You smell the air, see the sights and experience your environment much more vividly than what you are exposed to in a standard enclosed automobile.
While all this was going on, his mother told him in a fairly tight-jawed motherly manner, “Ronnie, you do not need a Miata. You already have two cars, including a Corvette.” Ronnie’s response? Mom, I do not need a Miata, I want a Miata. Do you see the difference, Mom? She did not.
With each additional Miata, Ronnie’s mother grew more and more concerned. She tried in earnest to tell Ronnie that he should not buy another Miata. Ronnie had 6 or 7 Miata’s by this time.
When Ronnie drove up in a newly purchased Miata, his mother’s face turned as blue as the bright blue paint on the Miata.
Ronnie announced, “No, Mom, I did not buy another Miata for my collection. This Miata is for you, Mom. It is your anniversary present.”
His mother told him in no uncertain terms that she did not need, nor want a Miata. Besides, she had never learned to drive a stick-shift sports car. Ronnie had the answer. “Mom, your Miata is an automatic transmission. Just take the top down and take it for a test drive.” She did and when she returned, she was grinning from ear to ear. She complained that her face hurt. Ronnie’s mother was hooked. She loves her car and she now understands her Miata collecting son, just a little better.
The word Miata means reward in German. To hear Ronnie, his mom and all his friends tell it, driving a Miata with the top down is one of life’s rewards.
Before I go, I have to share one more thing with you. Along with all the Miatas came all the fun vanity license plates that read, 2BZOOMN, BEZOOMN, 2CZOOMN, RUZOOMN, URZOOMN, ZOOMBY AND MR MIATA.
If you are at Starbucks and you see a collection of colorful Miatas all backed in, say hello to Mr. Miata and his crew. If you get lucky, you will be able to talk one of them into giving you a ride with the top down. Just ask!
Warning: The Suburban Times is not responsible to any of our readers, should you take a ride and then buy a Miata. When you get yours, may I have a ride?
Ah yes, coffee and cars.