Welcome to Must Read, where we single out the best stories from around the automotive universe and beyond. Today we have reports from Road & Track, The New York Times and Pacific Standard.
The Miatas of Alaska, top-down under the midnight sun – Road & Track
Even among Miata clubs, I think the Alaska Miata Club has the most interesting collection, as featured in Brett Berk's story. But to celebrate this interesting crowd, they need a special car: like, a Super20 kind of special.
It had snowed the previous week, so this 50-degree weather was not only comparative bliss but functional necessity. The Super20—a supercharged, intercooled, 230-plus-horsepower one-off Mazda built in 2010 for the SEMA show in Las Vegas—came with a rather dire series of weather-related warnings from Mazda USA. (The car had been shipped—literally, on a ship—directly from the company's North American headquarters in California.)
"Those tires can be diabolical in the cold," the email cautioned. If the temperature dipped into the 40s, driving would be "dangerous." If it rained, "dangerous as well." And should the mercury dive below 17, we were told in no uncertain terms that the rubber would "actually crack."
The Great, Fishy Massachusetts License Plate Fiasco of 1928 – The New York Times
From our friend Ben Preston, something that is just so Massachusetts.
According to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles website, the fishermen thought the fish, which was supposed to represent a cod, was too small and looked more like a guppy. It also appeared to be swimming away from the word "MASS."
Swedish Pop Mafia – Pacific Standard
In what sounds like the Swedish version of Footloose, social conservatives thought they were keeping foreign influences out by making strong music programs in the 1940s. What they really did was influence that "evil" pop music everywhere else.
Judged against their original purpose, Swedish municipal music schools have been a total failure. An initiative that started out as an antidote to the licentious sounds of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, and the like, instead set loose a musical juggernaut that would help give the world such hits as Katy Perry's "California Gurls" and Britney Spears' "If You Seek Amy" (try saying it out loud: F, U, C…). As the super-producer Max Martin once said, "I have public music education to thank for everything."
Photo: Creative Commons/David Mark