Sunday, July 18, 2010

Alfa, Miata or MG?

Car enthusiasts always face tough choices. You’d think it would be the opposite--anyone with motor oil in their veins know more about cars should be more informed, enabling them to make better decisions. But in most cases, more information just leads to more choices.

Case in point: Let’s say you have about ten grand in your pocket and an extra space in your garage. You want a roadster, something with two seats and a top that can be dropped faster than Miley Cyrus’ wholesome image. For most people, that means a Miata. Problem solved.

But not for me.

I know a Miata is a great choice. It’s comfortable, somewhat practical, with decent weather protection and has all the amenities you would find a Honda Accord. It’s also dead reliable and pure fun.

But I would hesitate to pull the trigger on one if I knew there was an Alfa Romeo Spider or late 1960s MGB lurking for the same money. Both cars had an impact on my childhood and partly explain some of my faulty wiring.

MGs are as reliable as Lindsey Lohan and leak almost as much oil as a well dug by British Petroleum. The inside joke among its owners is that MG stands for "Might Go." But when they do go, they are like flying in an open cockpit biplane.

Alfa Romeos are slightly more reliable than MGs and much more refined. A Spider is a four wheeled bottle of Pinot Grigio. It’s a Vivaldi string quartet mixed with the raspy exhaust snarl you only get from Italian cars.

But I wouldn’t count the Miata out. Unlike the other two, you can drive it until you run out of road and it won’t break down. It's easy to hop in it for a quick trip to the store and it’s carefree. With the other two, you have to plan each outing like you’re Kate Gosselin without the hired help. Just making it out of the garage can be an ordeal.

When you do drive an Alfa or MG, it’s an adventure. Getting to where you’re going is an event. And when you park your car outside the local ice cream store or coffee shop, it draws admiring glances.

Simply put, you own an Alfa or MG to admire and care for. You own a Miata to drive.

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