Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
10/2/07 12:57 p.m.

It's been a while since we last reported on our aesthetically challenged Miata. This is mainly because we have been too busy driving the wheels off it! Mileage is up over 174K now which means we have put almost 10K miles on the Miata since we rescued it from an ugly death. During it's time with us, the Miata always starts, runs, and produces smiles from the driver regardless of the destination. Sure it isn't perfect cosmetically, but that just means we don't mind driving it to work everyday, and occasionally leaving it in long term parking at the airport during our frequent trips. Heck, we even park in the front spaces when we go grocery shopping! Sometimes it is nice to drive a car that getting scratch, or ding isn't cause for despair.

It was after one of these out of town trips that our beloved little Rat decided to display some hilariously erratic behavior. We had just flown into Orlando from a week long trip, and as is usually the case, we didn't' arrive at the long term parking until late. (1 am or so) The drive from the Orlando airport to Ormond Beach is an easy hour and a half. This late at night, the drive usually is smooth sailing. We were tired from the trip, and ready for some rest. The Miata though, had different plans. The Miata started fine, as usual, and we dropped the top as we always do if the weather permits. About 5 minutes into the trip, the headlights began a crazy dance. The headlight buckets started popping up and down continuously, and we couldn't get them to stop. We tried pushing the button on the dash that usually keeps them up....no luck. The light switch would turn them off, but as soon as we gave them power, the crazy dance would continue. We stopped at a gas station trying to figure things out, but our sleep deprived brain couldn't quite figure out the problem. "Well, we thought, the highway is pretty well lit, and cars sure to get the heck out of your way when your lights are flashing like crazy", so we pressed on. Funny part was, the lights didn't pop up and down simultaneously. Each light had a mind of it's own, making the road appear like the dance floor of a disco. Groovy, but not so groovy when it is late, and way past bedtime. We drove this way for about 20 minutes, with the lights popping up and down, and the other cars on the road giving us crazy glances, until they magically stopped, and stayed in their upright position. We were able to get home safely without further incident.

Well, we would love to tell you that we found the magic bullet, but we didn't. The headlight mechanisms looked fine, and we never encountered the crazy popping headlight party again. Must have been the full moon! One thing we did notice was that the nut holding the headlight prop rod was a bit loose. Because of this, the mechanism had jumped a notch on the bolt spline. We removed the radiator overfill bottle for easier access to the nut, and with the headlight bucket in it's fully raised position, we reinstalled the nut. Now our lights were on line, and the bucket lines up nicely with the hood, and raises to it's full height.

We have also been continuously improving the interior of the Rat, and we recently installed a new shifter boot to replace our very tatty old one. Now, all we need is a quick trip to the auto parts store, or junkyard to fill in the cigarette lighter hole to make the Miata's interior very un-ratty.

Soon, we will be upgrading the worn out tires, and installing new (to us) suspension that we bought on the cheap. And we may just head down to our local witch doctor to cast a spell on our mysterious dancing lights!

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