Motoring: MY MOVE INTO THE FAST LANE

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The Independent Culture
KATE LLOYD, A GRANDMOTHER WHO RECENTLY TURNED 60, TALKS ABOUT HER NEW AND LONG AWAITED ACQUISITION, A MAZDA MX5 1.8i

I'VE ALWAYS loved sports cars. I think it's partly something I inherited from my father, an amateur pilot who raced cars; learning to drive on a boyfriend's TR3, back in the late Fifties, probably also had something to do with it. All my male friends then tended to have sports cars, which they'd let me dr-ive; in fact the first car I drove after passing my test was a boyfriend's Jaguar XK120. Not that I told him that I'd only just got my licence ... I couldn't afford to buy a car of my own then, and once I got married and had children, a family car was the only practical option.

So it wasn't until this April, when I came into a little money, that I finally got the chance to have a two-seater of my own. My 12-year-old Saab 900 was getting a bit weary and, besides, I didn't have to be the family taxi any more. So I started to look around to see what was available. Most makes were out of my price range, and I thought the ones I could afford - like the new-style MG - were ugly. But each time I went to my adult-education course I'd drive passed a Mazda garage. And I started to like the look of the little cars on the forecourt. Their line reminded me of the classic cars of my younger days, but combined with the look that cars have now - you know, the squat, tubby bum.

People I told that I was thinking of buying a two-seater said: "What fun! Go for it!" So I did. It cost me, with a few extras, about pounds 17,000, and thus far I'm very pleased with it. It's quite nippy and easy to handle, but what's nicest about it is the sense of excitement you get driving it: it sits in the road like an eager pet dog, waiting to go on an adventure with you.

Before I bought my Mazda I was slightly concerned that a certain type of driver might take exception to seeing an older woman in a sports car, but I've had no bother so far. Off the road, a few men (usually the very married, very boring types) have seemed a bit disapproving, but generally reactions have been positive. Apart, that is, from one younger woman, who was quite sarcastic about the whole thing. I told her that perhaps when she was my age she could have an MX5 too.

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