This is something I remember very clearly. I was just a kid, sitting the backseat of my parents’ car, driving along the Garden State Parkway when, suddenly, it started to pour. It was already kind of overcast and then the rain started. No big deal. Naturally, traffic slowed.
And then, out of nowhere, a Maserati convertible came shooting out of the crowd of cars and pulled over in the shoulder. Its driver hit the button to raise the retractable top and then had no other choice but to sit, in the rain, while the car carried out the command.
What a tool, I remember snickering to myself.
A few weeks ago, I tested the 2017 Mazda Miata RF—the retractable hardtop version of the Mazda Miata.
The car was a joy to drive, and with the top down on a chilly night with the seat heaters and heat on roaring high, it was one of the most pleasant things I’ve experienced while driving a car. But then it started to rain.
I pulled over onto the shoulder and hit the button to put the top up. And for 12 agonizing seconds, I sat while the roof unfolded itself and locked into place. Other cars hissed by in the rain, their wipers going and their roofs fixed and I felt it. I felt it, man. In that moment, I was that tool.
Let me explain. There’s no shame in stopping your car and manually putting the top up if you have one of those. Because then, you’re at least doing something. You’re busying yourself with an activity. It’s plain and simple and people can see that.
When you have a retractable top, you have no choice but to sit there, your finger on the button and your thumb up your ass until the act is finished. Because what else are you supposed to do? Go on your phone? Pick your teeth? It’s not enough time for that. You just kind of just look around like a dumbass, maybe.
I found it to be a very uncomfortable performance exercise that was almost theatrical. I sat there while the whole car screamed for attention, like “LOOGGAT ME IN MY CONVERTIBLE!” As I begged for the sweet release of death, I also tried to look like I wasn’t aware of how much the attention the car was drawing. I should have won a fucking Oscar or something. I don’t know. Maybe I should have just let the sticky and fetid shame consume me.
There should be some kind of software that prevents you from putting the top up or down unless you are parked in the privacy of your garage or driveway. That’ll teach everyone some goddamn commitment and foresight.
At least the Miata’s roof only takes about 12 seconds to put up or down. A 4 Series BMW’s roof takes about 20. A Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé takes 25 goddamn seconds. Agony. Torture. Fingernails dragged across a chalkboard.
Dance for the crowd, friends.