02246-20231209 San Diego Miata Club holiday party+assorted yearsó2003 Miata Club Sport+2019 30th Anniversary Ed Miataófor AM 0819

The San Diego Miata Club’s 2023 holiday party, gift exchange & Holiday Lights Run

Car clubs are like big extended families. Join the San Diego Miata Club family as we celebrate at our annual holiday party, followed the next weekend with the Holiday Lights Run in our Miatas.

2023 San Diego Miata Club holiday party

A highlight of our annual holiday party is the fun and entertaining gift exchange. Participants each bring a wrapped Miata-related or other car-related gift valued at $25 or more.

I brought a metal wall plaque commemorating the 30th Anniversary of Mazda’s Miata. On it were images of four Miatas — each one representing one of the four generations of Miatas (NA, NB, NC and ND).

After dinner, as our names were drawn, we either chose a wrapped gift to open in front of everyone, or we ‘stole’ a previously opened gift from someone else. Each gift was subject to being ‘stolen’ up to two times before it was frozen permanently.

Rather than spend a bunch of time walking around the room checking out the gifts and looking for one to ‘steal,’ when my name was called I picked a gift from the table. Wrapped inside was a 1999 book about the second generation (NB) Mazda MX-5 Miata. No one tried to steal it from me, so it was mine to keep.

The book was co-authored by John Dinkel — co-founder and fellow member of the Motor Press Guild. I am looking forward to reading it because my first two (of four) Miatas were NBs: a 2004 Mazdaspeed MX-5 Miata (turbo) and a rare 2003 Club Sport model, of which only 100 were made: 50 soft-tops and 50 hardtops (with no retracting soft-top).

My 2003 Mazda Miata Club Sport

Even though they were street-legal, they were primarily built for Sports Car Club of America road racing, so they included very few comfort-and-convenience features. After most of those cars were sold to SCCA racers, those that remained were offered for sale to the public, which was how I got mine.

Unlike every other Miata made, these 100 cars had no radio and no air conditioning. They were very light, which made them good for my goal of autocrossing mine. I thought that I would be okay without AC. However, I added an aftermarket Pioneer audio system, adjustable Koni shocks and a padded roll bar.

The NB Miata was roomy. It could carry all four of my autocross wheels and sticky competition tires (two in the trunk and two behind the seats), a floor jack, tire-changing tools and more to my autocrosses.

All was well until I drove to Las Vegas to compete in a Mazda-sponsored motorsports event. It was summer, and the weather was brutally hot.

Competing in Las Vegas
Competing in Las Vegas

Without the benefit of air conditioning, I had two choices: bake in the sun with the soft-top down, or endure stifling heat with the black vinyl soft-top up.

I met someone who was removing non-essential parts from their street Miata, as part of its conversion to a race car. They offered to give me their AC for FREE, so I decided to get it installed back in San Diego. However, my excitement about that did not last for long. I learned that to have that free AC unit installed in a Miata that was not configured for air conditioning would have cost me thousands of dollars.

Reluctantly, then, I decided to sell my 2003 Club Sport and replace it with a well-equipped 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata.

My 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata

The buyer of my Club Sport flew to San Diego from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and then he drove it home. Unfortunately, soon afterwards the car was written off in a traffic accident. Thankfully he was not hurt. I wonder what that rare car would have been worth today?

My fourth (and current) Miata is an orange, 2019, fourth generation (ND), 30th Anniversary Edition soft-top. Unlike the Club Sport, it includes many Miata comfort and convenience options, but it has much less interior space. The opening to the small, odd-shaped trunk is narrow, and the footwell of the passenger compartment is so short that, when occupied, the seat cannot be reclined.

My 2019 30th Anniversary Edition Mazda MX-5 Miata
Oct. 12, 2019: Driving my 2019 30th Anniversary Edition MX-5 Miata at Miata Reunion at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey County, California

The weekend following our holiday party, we met with our Miatas, opened the tops and joined the many other visitors checking out homes decorated for the holidays in Poway. I took these photos with my iPhone:

Assembling with our Miatas for the Holiday Lights Run through Poway, California
Our drivers’ meeting, conducted by Holiday Lights Run organizer Les Smith
…and here we go!

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Copyright © 2023 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #819r1

Jan Wagner

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