The Tree Won

I’ve driven the same car for the past 21 years: a 1990 Miata that I bought in 1991. It’s been a great car, and it’s so much fun to drive.

But, did you know that trees are bad for Miatas?

Poor car

Yes, the tree won. (Thankfully my son and his girlfriend are just fine. I’m so glad for that.) Even the tree was ok, but the starting estimate to repair just the obvious damage on my car is $8K.


I haven’t yet made up my mind what I’m going to do. My son feels horrible about what happened, and will of course be paying for at least a reasonable amount of the damage.

I feel a little bit ridiculous that I like a piece of metal as much as I do, but I am still considering repairing it. It’s not about the money for me; it’s about that particular car.  I just don’t know if it will really be ok afterward or not.


I did spend the weekend though test driving other cars to see what’s even out there that might appeal. I discovered that I don’t like the new Miatas (maybe because they aren’t mine) and am not a fan of the Camaro, Volvo C70, or Z4.  So far, out of the cars I’ve driven, I like the Mini and the BMW 135 the best.

I have to say that the car-looking experience has changed a lot in 21 years, which was the last time I bought a car for myself. It’s much more pleasant now, since people no longer tell me to come back with my dad or my boyfriend.

Paying cash or nothing

Whatever I end up doing — repairing or replacing —  it will be with cash. But I don’t actually need a car at all, so the only decision I need to make right now is what to do with the Miata. I live within walking distance of almost everywhere I go, and of course my husband has a car.  So I could also just do nothing, and get more exercise. (And that certainly would not be a bad thing.)

Have you ever had to deal with something like this? How did you handle it? I don’t usually have trouble making decisions, but in this case what’s holding me back is the uncertainty of how effective repairs might be.


  • Sorry to hear about your car! It’s funny how emotionally attached we get to our cars – and by funny, I really mean excruciatingly sad in situations like this.

    I think you’re doing the right thing by looking around and test driving other cars. I’d run the numbers financially and see whether it makes sense to get another car – it sounds like you don’t really need one so maybe there’s no need at the moment.

    • Financially it makes no sense to get a car at all, since spending nothing is a lot better than spending thousands of dollars :)

      But, I’m not going at this from the financial sense point of view really…

  • Nick

    I have a Miata as well. Mine is an ’02 and I paid 12k for it in 06, which was probably too much. I know you can get a decent used first gen like yours for under $4000, so repairing yours should obviously be a bad idea. If I were you, I’d consider the car a total loss and get a new (used) one. I also dislike the new Miata’s, but would consider a 1st- or 2nd-gen used model. As you know, they’re well-built cars so buying a used one shouldn’t concern you too much; just be sure to have someone who is mechanically inclined go over as prospects for you before you hand over the cash.

    • Yeah, I could probably get another 90 for about $3-$4K, although they range in price from $2K for one with tons of problems to $15K. Many I’ve seen are in the $5K range.

  • SwearJar

    IF you buy another car, you should definitely buy something you might love as much as the miata.

    I see plenty of smart people buy boring, practical, transportation appliances, only to hate them a few short years later, not take care of them as a result, and want something different way too soon.

  • I’m glad your son is okay!

    When I was in my car accident, it was a bit of a blessing. I was heading off to college and my younger brother was still more than a year away from getting his license. I went car-less all through college and then bought a car off my parents with cash after school.

    Not the same issue as you, plus my car was totaled so I didn’t have much of a choice. But I would say, focus on the fact that everyone is fine and that you’re going to get a new car that will last you another 20+ years.

    • Well, my car is totaled too — pretty much any little bump would have totaled it because its Blue Book value is so low. But yes, I’m glad everyone is fine!

  • DO NOT GET THE BMW! My dad got that model a few years ago, and HATES HATES HATES it. I can’t emphasize his hatred enough. He’s now thinking about the Volvo model you mentioned, instead.

    • What does he hate about it? I really enjoyed driving it. (It was one of the M kind…) But I won’t be getting it because it was kind of boring looking and insurance costs are much higher.

  • What a shame :( I totally understand being so attached to a car – and especially one that you had for over 20 years! Some marriages don’t even last that long! It’s of course a wonderful thing that your son and his girlfriend are fine. That is obviously concern #1. But as for the car – it looks like it would take a lot to repair that baby. Fortunately, you are not in desperate need to rush into something new, so you can wait for the right car to come along.

    I also appreciated your comment about the car-buying experience these days. Totally agree – much more respect for women now!

  • YIKES! Glad they’re ok. My husband’s family at one time had a whole fleet of Miatas — a blue, a green, and a white. lol! I always felt terrified riding in one because they are so tiny. It felt like we could drive right under a semi.

  • My brother’s SUV just got hit by a drunk driver (while it was parked). He didn’t have it paid off, so it almost screwed him. He got it fixed.

    I’d be a bit worried about damage to the engine and the types of problems that crop up months after.

    I’d probably go for another vehicle or not repairing. At $8,000, that’s a big risk.

    • Oh no! At least your brother wasn’t in it…

      Believe it or not, my car actually still runs — although I suspect running it for long would destroy the engine, because a part was damaged that helps regulate the temperature. If I do get it repaired, I will just have the shop do the parts I couldn’t, so it wouldn’t cost the $8K.

  • For $8k you’re probably better off buying another used car, but I like the walking idea. I gave up my car over a decade ago. Everything I need is just a few blocks away which makes it easy. With the summer coming it only makes it nicer.

    • Oh there’s no question that I’d be better off financially just getting a new car, or better off still getting no car at all. I’ve been enjoying walking more, but summer will be a different story here since it gets up to 115+.