Small Roadsters Stopped Being Considered 'Manly' All Of A Sudden

Illustration for article titled Small Roadsters Stopped Being Considered Manly All Of A Sudden

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, Yahoo! Autos and Japanese Nostalgic Car.

Of midgets and menRoad & Track

I've written about my father who loved the Miata so much he bought one in 1991, despite the fact he was almost 40, balding and divorced. Definitely not a "Sensitive New Age Guy," as Jack Baruth would say. Actually, he did use that phrase in his column.

When, exactly, did two-seat sports cars fall out of favor with the Marlboro Man set? It has to be a fairly recent development, certainly more recent than, say, the Carter Administration. I know this because my father bought a brand-new, bright-yellow MG Midget in 1979, from the British Leyland dealer outside Baltimore, MD. You wouldn't know it to look at me, but my father is and was a very traditional American dude. His purchase of the Midget didn't trail his honorable discharge from the Marine Corps by all that many years. He played baseball in college. I think he punched a guy once for just looking at my mom. We're not talking about a Sensitive New Age Guy here.


How I bought a $100 SUV, sight unseen, and hit the right kind of jackpotYahoo! Autos

So this is what $100 buys you these days. Actually, it's a lot better than you might think. It helps to have some luck.

I looked back at the Carfax history I pulled up the night before. The odometer sat at 93,463 original miles as of a year and a half ago. Some parts of the Explorer's history made sense, such as the nice 3,000 mile jumps in mileage over the last 15 years that reflected a low-mileage vehicle. Others, such as the title transfers and the lack of emissions in an emissions county, could have been any number of things.

Remembering the Honda CityJapanese Nostalgic Car

Hondas from the 1980s are generally admirable cars, and the little City is just adorable.

To achieve a car of subcompact size and efficiency yet with a livable amount of cabin room, the team settled on a space-maximizing upright stance that they dubbed "tall boy design." The resultant car debuted in 1981, powered originally by the ER 1.2-liter inline-4. Let's be clear: It was not a kei car (Honda's passenger kei car, the Today, would follow in 1985, looking like a junior City), but the clever packaging could comfortably seat four passengers and achieved excellent fuel economy. It was a runaway success.


Photo: Flickr/John Lloyd

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I don't understand the mentality, but I am aware that it does exist among a certain segment of the population. I'm assuming it started when the Miata came out.

Before then, all the Italian and British roadsters were so insanely unreliable and poorly made that you really had to trade off comfort and convenience to own one. Plus, you had to know how to do your own repairs to avoid going into the poor house. Basically, before the Miata, you really had to be a committed enthusiast and shade tree mechanic to put up with owning a sports car. Miatas made them accessible to everyone by being the first affordable sports car to actually be well made, and that meant that some of the people that would have bought MGs or Alfas started looking down their noses at Miata owners for taking the "easy way". Just a theory.