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Tuesday
Apr192011

Sports cars are supposed to be red!

A story that my buddy VBob related to me back in the early '90s:  He was at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races and it was the first year that Mazda was making a big push to populate the infield with a bunch of their new sports car, the Miata.  It had been prearranged that all of the Miata owners would meet outside the gates to Laguna Seca Raceway, and then all drive to the infield in parade style.  VBob was standing on a hill inside the track as this long line of over 300 Miatas snaked into the infield.  Standing near VBob, also watching the long procession of jellybean-colored cars, were a couple of MG owners.  VBob overheard a bit of their conversation.  As best I remember VBob's telling, the conversation went something like this:  MG owner #1 said, "They supposedly don't leak oil or have electrical problems.  So what do you think the owners talk about?"  To which MG owner #2 replied, "The color of their car?"

Bingo!  Miata owners have been debating car color since the car was introduced.

Really, though, there's nothing to debate.  Sports cars are supposed to be red.  Sure, I'll take a Miata in almost any color versus some lesser car in red.  The Miata is too much fun to drive to let car color stop me from enjoying the experience.  But sports cars are supposed to be red.  This is a known fact.  Even those that choose to drive a yellow one or blue one are doing it just to be different.  They're making a statement that they are an individual.  That they make their own decisions, instead of following the herd.  But deep down inside, even they know sports cars are supposed to be red.  If they won the lottery tomorrow and found themselves shopping for a Ferrari, they'd buy a red one.

When Mazda introduced the Miata in 1989, it was available in just three colors.  Classic Red, Crystal White, and Mariner Blue.  For the first several years, over 70% of the Miatas sold were red. Granted, that had a lot to do with Mazda's production numbers.  Mazda made more red ones because they knew... sports cars are supposed to be red.   But Mazda's decision was also influenced by the demand.  The Miata-hungry public wanted red ones.  The public knew.

Fortunately, Mazda picked the correct shade of red from the start.  Classic Red is the perfect red for a sports car.  Not too purple and not too orange.  A nice, deep, paint-is-two-inches-thick red.  Then, in 2004, Mazda got it right again with the Velocity Red on the Mazdaspeed Miata.  Velocity Red is, basically, an ever-so-slightly deeper Classic Red plus metal flake.  It's a gorgeous color for a sports car.  Both Classic Red and Velocity Red are true sports car colors.  Sadly, even Mazda eventually screwed up sports car red.

For 2006, when Mazda released the redesigned Miata, they replaced Classic Red with True Red.  True Red is a sad example of sports car red.  True Red is too orange.  Next to Classic Red or Velocity Red, a True Red Miata looks like a pumpkin.  The True Red models apparently don''t sell all that well, either.  I see very few of them on the road.  The much darker Copper Red is more popular.  You'd think Mazda would figure it out and bring back Classic Red.

There are many owners of early Miatas that might be swayed to upgrade to a newer model if Mazda was offering a proper shade of red for their uber-popular sports car.  Some of these older models are getting long in the tooth.  It seems to me that Mazda is missing out on some sales.  Yet, Mazda keeps going completely in the wrong direction by offering different shades of blue.  That's certainly not the answer.  As we all know, sports cars are supposed to be red!