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Rob Schwartz, one of the 120 or so members of the Miata Club of Minnesota, loves his Miata convertible. "It's fun, it feels good and it changes your outlook. When you drive it on a highway, it makes you feel euphoric, like a runner's high. And when you look at it, it smiles at you."

Schwartz bought the first model ever available on the market when it came out in 1990, and still has it. After 100,000 miles of trouble-free driving, he calls it "next to bullet-proof, the best car I've ever had." And he's owned luxury cars.

Other club members share Schwartz's affection for Mazda's affordable, rear-wheel drive two-seater. "It's a reliable, fun-to-drive version of a classic English sports car," says member John Miller, whose current Miata (now known as the MX-5) is a 2006 Touring model. "You can drive it forever and not have to spend a lot of your time underneath it [doing repairs]."

Club president Bob Brennan, who tired of being out in the rain, dust and heat on motorcycle vacations with his wife, likes his '95 Miata's styling and comfort, but he especially likes its handling. "It hugs the road. It's sure-footed and you feel confident in turns," he explains.

Club members aren't required to own a Miata but almost all do because, as Miller notes, they're into driving "twisty roads with the top down." During our nice-weather driving season, club members take Wednesday evening drives and longer Sunday drives each month. The club also sponsors what it calls spring and fall rallies, which are really just longer drives involving overnights.

The club holds Clean Up Days in the spring and fall at its sponsor, Morries Mazda, to ready the cars for summer driving or storage, depending on the season. Founded in 1990, the club has a bi-monthly newsletter and social outings include trips to drive-in movies and St. Paul Saints baseball games. A few members also take an annual fall trip "up north" and occasional longer trips. One member will visit Michigan's Upper Peninsula this year.

While some members drive their Miatas in autocrosses (the club is considering doing a couple this summer with another club), Miller describes the club as "a drive-and-eat type." He says members - mostly empty-nester couples in their 40s and older - "want something that corners fast and a top if it rains." He admits that the cars are "toys" that people can afford after their kids move out. "I always wanted something that corners fast," he says, "and now I can afford it."

With four-cylinder engines, Miatas aren't built for straightaways - unless you happen to have a Mega Monster from Monster Motorsports, which stuffs Miatas with supercharged 5.0-liter Mustang V-8s rated at 400 horsepower. Schwartz has one, a '92 sunburst yellow model that does not, as he puts it, "impede the flow of traffic."

For more information on the club, call 651-645-5133, e-mail, or visit