Automotive Maxim No. 3: It’s more fun to drive a slow car fast, than it is to drive a fast car slow. After “slow in, fast out” and “the left lane is for passing, the right lane is for travel,” this is one of the truest proverbs of the car world.
There are limits, however; for instance, driving a CVT-equipped Nissan Sentra at 10/10ths isn’t that much fun. It’s not just the caning of any car – it’s the spirit of the machine in question, whether or not it’s a sprightly little pony that loves to run even with stumpy little legs.
Here are a few of our favorite machines to drive with the needle in the red, yet with the speed limit still safely unbroken.
Mazda MX-5 Miata
Let’s get the obvious choice out of the way first. The Mazda MX-5 Miata, particularly the original with the 1.6-litre four-cylinder, is a deeply slow machine. It’ll get straight-line stomped by nearly any modern crossover, and a Toyota Sienna will show it taillights like the minivan was a top-fuel dragster.
It absolutely doesn’t matter. Flogging a Miata, even a bone-stock car with pizza-cutter wheels and a roly-poly worn-out suspension, is one of the most thrilling things you can do with your pants on. The steering is wonderfully alive, the curb weight is that of a roller skate and with the top down, you get to smell the bakeries and feel the breeze.
It’s all the best bits of classic British motoring without the need to keep fixing something every five minutes. So cheap, and so common, everyone should have one.