Inside Mazda

An Unforgettable Birthday with a Surprise MX-5 Miata

Celebrating 30 Years of the MX-5 Miata begins with celebrating our fans and their stories. We asked owners and enthusiasts from around the country to submit their MX-5 stories to celebrate the debut of the 30th Anniversary MX-5 Miata at the Chicago Auto Show.


Imagine going out for a quiet birthday dinner with your spouse and coming back with a brand new car. That’s exactly what happened to LeighAnn Severance when her husband, Skip, surprised her with a new 2012 MX-5 Miata.

When Skip and LeighAnn got married in 1970, LeighAnn was driving a red Datsun 1600. Although they decided to get rid of it, that didn’t keep LeighAnn from dreaming about owning another little red sports car someday. Forty-two years later, in 2012, Skip decided to surprise his wife with a new car. After researching a number of different cars and makers, including the Datsun 1600, Triumphs and Hondas, Skip landed on Mazda.

“The light bulb finally went off that Mazda's been around forever,” Skip explained. “ Miata's one of the last few cars that's not American that continued to be built since the day it first started in the early ‘90s, and I thought ‘I'm gonna go check those out.’”

He initially test drove a 1991 MX-5, however, he wasn’t sold on it. “So, I went and took a brand new 2012 out and that did it,” Skip explained. “With the car’s overall comfort, the better motor and its quietness, as well as the fancy features like the heated seats. I wasn't planning on buying my wife a new car; that was never my game plan, but now it looks like I have to--it was a better car.”

Once Skip found the perfect car, a red 2012 MX-5, it was time for the big reveal. For LeighAnn’s birthday, Skip took her out to dinner at the local Red Robin restaurant. He had called ahead and arranged to have the car parked right out in front so they had to walk by it to get into the restaurant.

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“When we drove by, I did so slowly, and said, ‘Look at that.’ It's got balloons on it and giant ribbons,” Skip explained. "I added, ‘They must be having an auction tonight or special event.”

As they walked toward the car, Skip slowed their pace. Upon taking a closer look at the car, LeighAnn remarked, "Man, that's a neat car. This is a really cool car!" As she circled the car, her two sons, daughter-in-law and three grandkids who were in on the surprise all came out from their hiding spots in nearby bushes to add to the surprise.

“Finally, I took out the keys to the car and I gave them to my grandson. I told him to give them to Grandma and say, ‘Why don't you see if these keys will fit the car?," Skip said.

“When LeighAnn realized what I'd done, she started crying,” Skip added. “She got in the car, and couldn't stop smiling. The restaurant was in on it, half the customers were in on it, the employees were in on it. Everybody's coming out, applauding and cheering. She couldn’t even eat the cheeseburger she ordered because she was so shaken up!”

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After popping the top, LeighAnn drove the car home. “It was one smile after another, so my surprise pleasantly worked,” Skip shared.

No stranger to auto clubs, Skip and LeighAnn joined the San Joaquin Valley Miata Club and are still actively involved with it.

“In fact, at this time, I have been the Vice President of Activities for four years, and am also currently the web master,” Skip said. “We love dropping the top and going for cruises with the club. Being in Clovis, we are close to the Sierra's and the ocean so there are plenty of great Miata roads close by.”

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