One From the Vault: 2001 Mazda Miata Test Drive car test drives motoring memories mazda
2001 Mazda Miata. Click image to enlarge
Test Drive: 2003 Mazda Miata SE
Test Drive: 2005 MazdaSpeed Miata

Manufacturer’s web site
Mazda Canada

Originally published September 25, 2001

Review and photos by Grant Yoxon

Photo Gallery:
The Barefoot Miata

A new pair of Nikes can make a twelve year old feel like Shaquille O’Neal. It’s like fitting a new set of tires on your car. There’s nothing quite like fresh rubber on the ground to make a kid (or your car) sprint, turn and stop like an NBA All Star.

The seven-foot, one-inch, 310-pound Shaq may have it all on the basketball court, but he’ll never have the pleasure of driving a Mazda Miata. Nor will my twelve-year-old son, who was fitted with a size 11 shoe this fall. My son’s foot may only be half as big as Shaq’s size 22, but that is still too big to fit comfortably between the clutch pedal and the side of the footwell in a Mazda Miata. I know, because I can wear my son’s shoes and my foot won’t fit.

I was just as excited to test drive the 2001 Miata as a 12-year-old would be to meet Shaquille O’Neal in person, such is the reputation of the legendary Japanese sports car. Imagine my disappointment when I settled into the deep, butt-hugging seat, pulled my legs into the car, and found I couldn’t squeeze my foot past the clutch to reach the dead pedal.

One From the Vault: 2001 Mazda Miata Test Drive car test drives motoring memories mazda
2001 Mazda Miata. Click image to enlarge

And when I tried to shut the door, it crushed my knee against the steering wheel. No problem, I thought, I’ll adjust the steering wheel. But there was a problem, a 2001 Miata doesn’t have tilt steering.

So I wiggled my foot under the clutch pedal and shut the door without injury. I was in. I tried moving my right foot from gas pedal to brake pedal. No problem – lots of room there. But my left foot was stuck under the clutch pedal and I couldn’t easily pull it out to push the clutch in so that I could start the car. My knee was jammed between the steering wheel and the arm rest.

One From the Vault: 2001 Mazda Miata Test Drive car test drives motoring memories mazda
2001 Mazda Miata. Click image to enlarge

Now I could understand the difficulty if I was Shaquille O’Neal. Heck, Shaq probably had to move the seat tracks back in his Mercedes to fit into its driver’s seat. But I’m more than 10 inches shorter than Shaquille O’Neal, which might be a bit taller than normal, but not unusual, certainly no more unusual than my D-width size-11 foot.

I would have to think of something or I wouldn’t be able to drive away from the Mazda dealership. If only my foot were a half inch narrower and my leg a half inch shorter…

I reached down, unlaced my shoe, slipped it off and tossed it onto the passenger seat. Problem solved.

Yes it’s true. I drove the Miata for a week with a bare left foot. Get in, take off the shoe. Get out, put the shoe back on.

And I didn’t mind at all. I could have run over to the corner store to pick up a jug of milk in the family van, but that would have been no fun. Given the choice between a couple of larger, roomier vehicles parked in the driveway and the Miata, the decision was easy. I took the Miata, of course. And a five-minute trip to the convenience store might take a half an hour or more, just to make the shoe ritual worthwhile.