Just before the pandemic shutdown hit in 2020, I joined the Delaware Valley Miata Club, hoping to connect to an organization that would provide me with an excuse to drive my Mazda Miata a bit more frequently. (Since 2013, when I purchased my 1967 Alfa Romeo, I have put about the same total mileage on the two cars.) The DelVal Miata Club is very active and organizes frequent drives, about two to four a month during our three-season driving year.
Above: L to R are a blue ND, a red NB, and my black NA
Above: the red NB and blue ND compare back ends
Above: the white NA rides with headlights UP
Alas, this was not to be for me in 2020. Looking at my mileage log, I put 178 miles on the convertible in 2020, an all-time low, and the lowest since I did 762 miles in it in 2012. I vowed to myself that 2021 would be different, and it’s gotten off to a good start. I already have used it in several events, and on Sunday May 23, I participated in my first DelVal Miata Club drive.
Above: my black ’93, with frontal jewelry, showing its face at a Miata club event for the first time
The start point was the parking lot of a strip mall in Flemington, all of 6 miles from me, so that was part of the impetus for me to participate. The planned route was to follow NJ Route 519 north, which we would pick up just a few miles west of Flemington, and drive all the way to Route 206 in Newton, about 75 miles away. There were about 25 Miatas of all generations in the lot when I showed up, and many people seemed to know each other, which was no surprise. I made some idle chat with a few folks, and then the driver’s meeting was held. There was little to discuss other than the revelation that the group was so large, we would split in half, with the second wave departing about 15 minutes after the initial bunch pushed off. I was in the first group, and got myself situated somewhere in the middle.
Above: Driver’s meeting in progress
It was great fun to have a string of Miatas as far as I could see in front of me, and almost as many to my rear. I mentioned earlier that there were cars of all generations. I’ll briefly explain that Mazda has so far built four generations, what insiders refer to as NA, NB, NC, and ND (this based on VIN code). My car, an NA, is of the generation built from model year 1990 to 1997. The NB cars look almost identical to the NA ones; the big giveaway are the exposed headlights on the NB (only the NA had retractable headlights). The NC cars have pronounced fender flares, and sit a bit higher compared to previous cars. There was a retractable hardtop option on the NC. The ND styling is probably the biggest departure of the four generations, but it also brought the car back very close in size and weight to the 1990 version. The ND is also available as an RF (Retractable Fastback) which opens the top but leaves the structure around the rear window in place.
Above: this blue RF ( retractable fastback) was striking looking; note the custom wheels
Above: the view from the driver’s seat
Back to our drive – we were motoring along at a good clip, a bit above the posted limit, but not too aggressively so, when we came to our scheduled pit stop, a Quick Check, which gave us a chance to fuel up, use the facilities, and grab a cold drink. Then it was back to the cars and back on the road, continuing north on 519, easy to say but less easy to do when foliage sometimes blocks the road signs. It took us a bit over two hours to reach Route 206, where we turned right, and following the cars immediately in front of me, entered a diner parking lot a short distance ahead. This is where I discovered that everyone was on their own for lunch, as most of the remaining Miatas motored past us, on their way to some other eatery.
Above: Quick Check rest stop in progress
About 14 or 15 of us entered the diner and sat. I got to chat up a bit more with some folks I had not seen earlier, and somehow it came out that I also have an Alfa Romeo at home. “That’s YOUR problem!” one woman good-naturedly teased me. I guess they think that their Japanese sports cars are somehow more reliable than my Italian sports car…. We all ate, we all chatted a bit more, then we all left for home, heading in all different directions. Perhaps it’s because the group is new to me, but this was a bit different compared to my own breakfast driving club or the Alfa club. The primary focus of this Miata club is to drive, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I would have preferred if everyone ate together, but that was not up to me, and logistically that may have not been possible, at least not this time. I’ll certainly join this group on future drives, and I’ll try to befriend some more club members.
Above: there is some beautiful scenery in western Jersey
Above: the Miatas managed to stay together on this lightly-traveled road
All photographs copyright © 2021 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.