When the MX-5 Miata made its world debut at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show, few could have imagined its importance, and staying power, for the automotive industry and Mazda. The design behind the vehicle was simple in concept; a lightweight roadster that enveloped the driver and passenger in their surroundings. With over a million sold, the MX-5 continues to be the torchbearer for those who enjoy the journey as much as the destination — especially when there are some curves along the way.
The latest addition to the MX-5 family, the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF (retractable fastback), fully embodies the model’s 28-year-old tradition of being fun-to-drive, yet Mazda has broken the bonds of conventional thinking to create something entirely new. To say the new MX-5 RF is gorgeous is an understatement. One Ohio couple thought so, so much that they decided to double their fun by purchasing two brand new RFs. Here’s their story.
Welcome Dale and Sheila Ann
Meet Dale and Sheila Ann Schmidt. Neither had ever owned a Mazda before, but when the MX-5 RF was first announced, Dale was smitten with the design of the RF’s body and roof. He found out about the special “Launch Edition,” in Machine Gray Metallic with Piano Black roof, Auburn Nappa leather interior, unique badging, after reading about it in a car magazine.
“I knew then that I wanted one,” Dale said. “Then I decided that I should get another one for my wife and family to enjoy, too.”
When Mazda began accepting pre-orders for the car, existing Mazda owners were given priority. Dale turned to local dealers, but as none had any yet, he called Mazda’s corporate headquarters in California and explained his plight.
So, once the existing Mazda owners’ window for placing orders had closed, it was the general public’s turn. Dale got a special code, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Dale pre-ordered a ‘Launch Edition’ RF, without telling his wife, and then ordered another one so he could share it with his family. With Cleveland’s unforgiving winter climate, Dale had the dealership deliver both vehicles to his climate controlled storage unit he had just for the RFs. He didn’t want either vehicle to touch the snow, so for months after they were delivered, they did not drive the vehicles. (However, Mazda believes Miatas can be a lot of fun in the snow!)
Mazda Driving Experience
After purchasing the RFs, the Schmidts were then invited to attend a Mazda-sponsored event in San Diego.
“The Mazda Driving Experience event we attended in San Diego really stirred our newfound passion for the brand,” said Dale. ‘‘The whole experience was phenomenal, educational and fun! Mazda’s team did a great job explaining the history of the brand here in the U.S., where they came from and where they are now, without once talking about the competition. I found that very impressive.”
Since both of their RFs were still locked away from the ravages of Ohio’s winter, the Mazda Driving Experience’s road course finally gave Dale and Sheila Ann the chance at driving one of the vehicles they had already purchased.
“Driving through the hills around San Diego really gave me an understanding of why these MX-5’s are so popular. The car’s handling is incredible!” said Dale.
“It just handles so well on the road,” Sheila Ann said. “I’d never been to an event like this, and it made me excited about driving. The whole experience of driving the MX-5 is just intuitive, and I feel younger behind the wheel!”
Back home in Cleveland, the summer months have meant driving the “twins” and reflecting on the great luck in being able to buy two RF’s. The Schmidts enjoy driving the pair, and love it when neighbors, who see the duo together in their home garage, ask “Why did you buy two?” Dale just chuckles and answers, “Why not?”
As it turns out, the Schmidts have become brand advocates for Mazda, encouraging the purchase of a new CX-5 for the eldest son, and an MX-5 for the skating coach of their youngest daughter. Sheila Ann already has her eyes on a CX-5, as well.
“I thought Dale had lost his mind when he bought two of the same car, and was experiencing a midlife crisis,” Sheila Ann said. “Now, we always debate amongst our family of seven who will get to drive the cars. I think it’s safe to say we’ll have many good years enjoying our Mazdas.”