1: Attend a winter Cars & Coffee meet
Anyone can go to a car meet in summer, but it takes a special kind of commitment to go to one in the depths winter. Believe us, they do exist. And they’re worth attending.
On the face of it, it doesn’t sound particularly appealing. Why would you get up early, and leave a warm bed or house, to go and stand in a car park and look at cars in the freezing cold?
Because only the hardy venture out to car meets at these times, and they are the best types of car enthusiasts. They’ll be the ones to don a flying jacket and pilot an open-wheeled Blower Bentley through the freezing mist, or to arrive in a track car fitted with frozen-stiff semi-slicks.
And these types know all-too-well just what it takes to display that level of commitment, and they’ll happily chat to anyone else who joins them. Car meets in the freezing cold usually cultivate the types of social interactions that don’t always happen when its warm and the sun is shining.
That, and a hot coffee is so much more satisfying when you’re freezing cold. And just think of how good you’ll feel for the rest of the day, knowing that you got up early and made something of your winter Saturday or Sunday morning, instead of just writing it off as ‘too cold out’.
2: Fix the one thing that bothered you for all of 2017
We’ve all got that one niggling little issue with our MX-5 that drives us mad, but is not so disrupting that it warrants immediate repair. It might be a squeak or a rattle, or maybe a clip is broken on a door trim and it sits proud on one edge. There could be an ugly looking dealer sticker on the window, a scratch on the bumper, the plastic headlights could be yellowing, or maybe there’s a slight engine hesitation under certain circumstances.
Whatever it is, put aside some time and get it sorted! Go into the repair expecting the worst, and you’ll likely be surprised at how easy it was to fix and question why you didn’t do it a year ago.
3: Go on a Continental road trip
There are literally millions of possible adventures waiting for you just across the Channel, so get out there and explore them!
Time passes us by, and sometimes we forget just how close we are to some pretty cool things. Make a date in your calendar, apply for leave, and make it happen. It could be as grand or as basic as you make it; a three-month long tour, or just a short weekend camping trip to Northern France.
Why not plan a trip to the Spa or Le Mans Classic events? The great driving roads of the Alps and famous passes such as the Stelvio, Furka, Gottard, Susten, Grimsel and Grossglockner all sit waiting. You could drive to an obscure art exhibition in Italy, lap the Nurburgring, sip Negronis on the French Riviera, cruise the Portugese countryside or blast along the German Autobahn.
The opportunities really are limitless, and all of them are undoubtedly enhanced by the addition of an MX-5. And if this short video doesn’t inspire you in some small way, we don’t know what will…
4: Attend the MX-5 Owners Club Spring Rally
The Spring Rally is one of the largest annual gatherings of MX-5s in the United Kingdom, and presents an excellent opportunity to get to know people from other club regions. Maybe you already know them from an interaction on the forum, or maybe you are familiar with their car after seeing it online or in the club magazine.
Either way, what better opportunity to spend a weekend with likeminded company.
5: Do something mechanical yourself
Even the least mechanically inclined among us would be familiar with that warm sense of achievement and satisfaction that comes with successfully doing something yourself. Not only that, but the more you work on your car, the more familiar you become with it, and the closer the bond becomes.
No matter how simple a job, why not make a point of tackling something yourself? Because at the end of the day, even the most complex cars are just nuts and bolts. Of course, we’re not advocating that you get in over your head.
Things come apart a lot easier than they go back together, and there’s nothing worse than having hundreds of loose bits and no idea where they all go. And especially when it comes to safety issues with brakes and suspension, you do need at least half an idea of what you’re doing.
However, there are a lot of small and basic jobs that even the most mechanically illiterate can achieve. As long as you take your time and ask the right questions, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t attempt something.
Maybe it could be as simple as replacing a blown globe, cleaning out the air filter or swapping a faulty component like an airflow meter or a sensor. Just make it a point this year to do something yourself on your MX-5.
6: Spend an entire day detailing your MX-5
We don’t want to get all romantic here, but a special bond is formed between you and your MX-5 when you lavish an entire day detailing it. And you only need to do it every so often – once it’s properly clean, all it takes is a little regular maintenance to keep it that way.
Wash it thoroughly with warm water, and carefully dry it with a leather chamois. Pay special attention to the wheels – jack up the car one corner at a time so that you can remove each wheel to clean inside it. With the wheel removed, clean inside the wheel arches, and clean the brake calipers, suspension arms and dampers.
Open the doors and clean all door jams and seals, paying special attention to built-up dirt and grease around the hinges and latches.
Polish the external paintwork if required, then apply a protective layer of carnauba wax. Use window cleaner and a proper window cleaning towel to thoroughly clean all the glass inside and out, and carefully vacuum the interior. Take a small paint brush and use it to remove all the built-up dust and grit from the dash, door trims and console, and treat all leather surfaces with a good quality leather cleaner.
Don’t forget to look under the bonnet – use a damp cloth to remove all the accumulated dust and dirt from the engine and its components, and a light degreaser and a rag to clean the underside of the bonnet and its latches.
And finally, the most important two steps. Once you’re completely satisfied, take your MX-5 for a short drive and marvel at how it now feels like a brand-new car. Then, find a seat with a good view of your car. Open your favourite beverage, and sit back to take in the fruits of your day’s labour.
7: Do a track day
Track days are a lot more accessible than most people think. Of course, the dedicated track rats will have their sticky tyres, roll cages, loud exhausts, garish stickers and big bills. But you don’t need any of that to have some fun.
For every highly prepared car, there are places at most track days for novices and beginners who have little regard for lap times, but just want to enjoy driving their MX-5 at speed on a closed course. The track days run by the MX-5 Owners Club are especially good for that.
A track day can be a fantastic learning experience. You’ll be able to safely explore the limits of your car in a controlled environment, experience the thrill of driving as fast as you dare, lap the types of circuits that most people have only seen on TV, and improve your skills behind the wheel. You will undoubtedly meet some brilliant people, too.
A lot of people think that a track day is too risky, but it’s only as dangerous as you make it. As long as you drive within your limits, watch your mirrors, and stay away from other cars in braking zones and around corners, the risk of damage is minimal. Most road cars will easily handle a track day or two without incurring too much wear and tear, and any mechanical problems that happen on track would likely have happened on the road sooner or later, anyway.
The biggest risk is that you’ll enjoy it so much and want to do another… and another.
8: Take some proper photos that you’ll be proud of
Decent photography doesn’t just happen by chance, but with a little planning and careful consideration, make it a point this year to take some photos of your MX-5 that you’ll be proud of.
A DSLR is obviously ideal, but a good phone camera will do just fine if that’s all you have access to. Good photography is governed more by light, planning and composition than by the quality of the camera or lens used.
The number one ingredient is good light. If the light isn’t good, don’t even bother. Sunrise or sunset, when the sun is low in the sky and the light is soft, is best. However, sometimes an overcast or cloudy day can produce some interesting results. Pay attention to the shadows – if they are dark and harsh, your photos won’t be great no matter how hard you try.
Carefully select a location with an interesting backdrop. It could range from a grand vista, a forest, or even an interesting brick wall. Most important is to make sure that it is free from elements that might distract the viewer from the car – an awkwardly located power pole or tree, a bright yellow bin or a sign. Don’t be afraid to move things around, and keep changing the placement of the car until it is perfect. Try several different locations if needed.
The general rule is to keep the sun behind you so that it is illuminating the subject. However, rules are meant to be broken, and interesting shots can be had by shooting into the sun. Shoot close, shoot distant. Shoot from down low, climb a tree or fence to shoot up high. Look at the photos that inspire you on Instagram and try to replicate them. Just get creative with it.
Once you’ve found good light, prepared your subject, chosen a location, cleared the clutter and carefully composed your shot, pushing the shutter is the easy part. Remember, some of the best and most iconic photos were taken on an iPhone!
And if you need somewhere to share your expertly captured shots, why not send them across to the club Instagram team? Find out more info here.