Wheel alignment

Thursday 5 May 2011

The other petrolhead in the family

My C.E.O has always been a terrific pillion passenger.  Would hardly know Jennie was there, apart from the fact that she also acted as a human Speed Governor with a whack on the helmet or prod in the ribs if I was getting a bit enthusiastic for her liking. A rather public bollocking out the front of a biker cafe/pub for excessive speed a few minutes earlier with a couple of dozen riders and their significant others laughing their heads off  will remain burned into my memory forever.  Be that as it may, there's still no-one I'd sooner have on the back - absolutely unflappable and almost telepathically connected to what I'm going to do.

With our old BMW K100RS

With the Blackbird on a charity toy run

Jennie's prowess isn't just limited to pillioning though, oh dearie me no!  A few years ago, we spent nearly a month touring NZ's south island by car.  We were staying in Queenstown, NZ's adventure capital and I saw an advertisement for going on a quad bike ride into the mountains.  Jennie wasn't at all keen but after some pouting and generally childish sulking on my part, she reluctantly agreed to come along.  I'd assumed that they would be docile farm quads but when we arrived at the base camp, they turned out to be Polaris 2 stroke screamers with a pretty narrow power band - oh hell!  Cowardice prevailed and I kept my mouth shut.  The guide / instructor was superb and gave us both a bit of practice on undemanding terrain first with Jennie taking to it like a duck to water.  Going into the mountains proper she absolutely lapped it up and on one scary downhill section littered with boulders, she was sticking with the instructor and pulling away from me like there was no tomorrow; a perfect example of where your mental limits are set - what a girl!!!

The Remarkables mountain range - NZ south island

When the last of our kids left for university, meaning that Jennie didn't have to drive them to sport or anywhere else; she decided that the boring old Mazda saloon she owned was cramping her style and it was time to get out and have fun.  Fun came in the shape of a Mk 1 Mazda MX5 in British Racing Green, tan leather upholstery and Panasport lightweight mag wheels.  I was impressed with just how much fun they were to drive.  Cornered like it was on rails and perfect for the twisty roads of NZ.   You didn't need to go super fast to have a lot of fun either.  Jennie loved that car and drove it well too.

Jennie's Mk 1 MX 5 outside the Warbirds airfield

NZ's north island East Cape region
Active island volcano on the horizon

Unfortunately for Jennie, a hip problem was limiting her pillion riding to relatively short journeys on the Blackbird and my solo riding increased.  It didn't dampen Jennie's enthusiasm for driving though and a short while before our retirement to the beach, the question of a later model MX5 was raised as the current one had accumulated a decent mileage.  

We knew a reputable local car dealer who sourced low mileage performance cars direct from Japan and asked him to keep an eye out for one on his trips to Japan.  After one or two false starts, we got a call from Tokyo.  He said he'd found the perfect car which was going to auction that very day.  He'd email photos and some details and did we want him to bid for it?  After seeing the photos and specifications, Jennie took about a nanosecond to decide that she wanted it whatever the price.  And she calls me impulsive on occasions!  The dealer won the auction, Jennie was over the moon and surprisingly, we didn't quite have to sell our first-born to pay for it.  This is her baby in rare metallic merlot paint:

MazdaSpeed-prepared Mk2 MX5

It came kitted with a whole raft of MazdaSpeed performance engine and suspension parts and with only 21,000 km on the clock, it was/is absolutely mint.  The cream leather interior and Bose stereo topped it off nicely.  It goes like a cut cat and the exhaust note is absolute music to the ears!  As per Jennie's first MX 5, she doesn't pussyfoot about in it either!  The eagle-eyed might have noticed the same numberplate on the second photo of the Mk 1 and on the Mk2. In NZ, it's relatively easy to get personal plates and transfer them to new cars.  The plate was a birthday present from me.  Jennie is a keen family historian (genealogist) and the small print at the top of the plate says, "It's all in" and the big letters say "DGENES". Ok????

One happy lady - the secret to staying forever young!

The additional good news is that with Jennie's hip problem now resolved, she can resume being the passenger in a million.  However, she's made it clear that Hell Will Freeze Over before she scrunches up on the back of the Street Triple but she's quite enthusiastic about a cruiser or a trike.  As I'm not ready for either, it'll have to be travelling together in the Mazda for a wee while yet, haha!  Oh yeah, and I'm occasionally allowed to drive it provided I keep it clean and serviced.  Generous of her, isn't it?


  1. Hi Geoff,

    I've always been a fan of the MX5, and although I've never "actually" driven one, I have piloted them around many of the world's roads and racetracks via various playstation games!

    That colour is fantastic. Jennie is one lucky lady.


  2. Having different hobbies, yet at the same time able to enjoy them together is very healthy for any relationship. I love the car, and having seen it in person can understands Jenni love affair with it.

    Perhaps I could recommend another bike to add to the stable, that way you and Jenni can both get out together on the bike...now perhaps a bonnie...or maybe a nice thunderbird...of course no need to thank me.. I will be here all night offering wonderful advice and pearls of wisdom.

  3. Hi Anthony,
    Yeah, they're far from a "toy" car; they have seriously good handling. There are several companies which do small block V8 conversions, including one in NZ. That could be seriously tempting :-).

    I understand that the merlot Anniversary Edition model only had 3000 released world-wide.

    You'll love it even more when you get an opportunity to drive it at some stage!

    However, with smart-arse comments like that which are simply calculated to land me up to my neck in doo-doo, I think that putting a passport control at the entrance to the Peninsula to keep Aucklanders out (well, one anyway) would be the best way of showing my thanks ;-).

  4. Geoff:

    You must have contacts in high places, Passport Control at all entrances to the North Island ? We also had an MX5, 1st Gen. Yes it was fun. We also had a couple of RX7's, one was a GSL.

    at least you will have something to Retire to

    Riding the Wet Coast

  5. You have some nice toys, I would keep the Mazda polished all the time so I could drive it all the time ;-)
    My wife did the same, even though we have a 14 year old daughter at home, she went out and bought a convertible VW beetle :-) Her number plate is "BTIL QT" get it?

  6. Gidday Bob.
    Nah, there's a narrow bridge from the direction of Auckland onto the Peninsula. Passport control just to keep Raftnn (Roger)out might be a touch excessive so I'm going to propose a toll booth instead to make him wince every time he comes through ;-). RX7's eh? How was your fuel bill? A friend has just sold the latest RX as it's so thirsty.

    Cheers George!
    It's nice to have a few toys - what else do we live for after slaving all our working lives? I use the Meguiars carnauba wax on it.... good stuff.

    Haha - love the Beetle plate, that's great. Jennie always wanted an older generation VW with a lurid paint job because we grew up in the flower power days!

  7. Gorgeous car. Love the color. I don't know if you remember, but you showed me a pic of it before. Came up in a discussion about the best car color, or something like that. A perfect ride of the 4-wheel variety!

    It's so awesome that you both enjoy spending time together. So many couples don't seem to do that, so it's always refreshing to meet those who do.

    Love the story on the public bollocking - lol. Probably well deserved! :)

  8. Hi Kari!
    I do now, thanks for reminding me :-)

    We do have our separate interests which as Roger (Raftnn)said, is a healthy thing. However, we're best mates too and really enjoy each other's company, even though next year; we'll have been married for 40 years!

    I might just elaborate on the public bollocking. There were actually 3 of us guilty of the same offence, all with wives on the back. What made it so enjoyable for all the onlookers was that all 3 wives launched into us at the same time and all we could do was shuffle and hang our heads. To grin would have been fatal.

  9. Geoff:

    I'm still grinning as I read this again . . .

    Riding the Wet Coast

  10. Great post Geoff. Love the little Mazda in the merlot paint. Very nice combination. Good choice Jennie.

    I can empathize with crouching on the back of the Street Triple. I have spent many hundreds of miles scrunched on the back of the Sprint ST when Troubadour had it and, I tell you with long legs the back of the Tiger is almost worse.

    Someday you will have a happy medium, until then let Jennie take the wheel and motor around in the Mazda.

  11. Geoff:

    the older RX7's (R12 engine) just drank petrol. Economy was like driving a V8 engine. It's the same with our Subaru WRX, not very economical but then power doesn't come cheap. Also uses premium fuel too

    There was a company locally that did V8 conversions with the MX5 but you also had to beef up the suspension, cooling system, and brakes. It was just cheaper to buy the "vette.

    Riding the Wet Coast

  12. Trobairitz:
    Thank you - Jennie will be delighted!

    Yep, even the Blackbird had high rear pegs and a trade sprang up in both front and rear peg lowering kits. Sport tourers in general just aren't set up for a pillion. The Striple would cramp a 5 year old! My old K100RS was ok though.

    You may well grin. We all know who really has the power in our households, don't we?

    My mate's RX8 slurped it too and it wasn't any better out of town. I can well imagine the WRX swallowing fuel - the power has to come from somewhere!

    Good point regarding the conversion, you end up chasing your tail. I doubt that a 'vette would be cheaper in NZ though. I guess that the main point is that people are prepared to pay a premium for something a wee bit different.

    Hope your foot is much improved!

  13. Good to hear that Jennie's health issues have been resolved, and she will eventually be back riding pillion. However, I have a hard time picturing you on a cruiser, but maybe a Triumph Trophy could do it for you both, or you go Teutonic in your 'old days' and get an RT?

    A convertible however is also a good choice, I wouldn't complain if my hubby would get me one should my riding times be over (which I hope doesn't happen too soon...).

  14. Geoff:

    my foot has had a relapse. Before it really healed I cut the lawn twice, weeded the garden, swept up the carports, got rid of tree branches, washed the car and stopped taking medication. Now it has all caught up with me. I now have to take it easy and just sit somewhere and watch the clouds float by.

    I forgot myself for a few days and pretended that I was a 53 year old youngster, like yourself

    Riding the Wet Coast

  15. Hi Sonja!
    Ahem.... you're not saying that you have a mental picture of a hooligan, do you? Shame on you ;-). Maybe it's because I haven't got a beard and tattoos! I think a cruiser like a Thunderbird would be really enjoyable, just not as my main bike for a while.

    Thanks, I'm pleased that Jennie is in great nick again too.

    Very sorry to hear about the relapse - bet Yvonne is not well-pleased. Be a good boy and follow orders and you'll be back riding everywhere before the really good weather arrives.

    Oh haha! My 63 year old knees are creaking a bit now the cooler weather is here....

  16. Geoff

    "Human Speed Governor" - I like it!

    Poor Mrs N cannot see the speedo over my shoulders and anyway (being of German extraction) she does not readily understand that it is marked in mph - means that I get away with 8/5 times more naughtiness.

    Oh, she does a really soothing shoulder massage too...

    Best wishes from wet Britain -:( N

  17. Nikos:

    Never fails to activate :-)

    I think Mrs N probably knows very well when you've succumbed to temptation. You've probably been punished multiple times without knowing - new shoes, a nice new coat etc slipped into the wardrobe! However, I mist be charitable as it's Mother's Day here and a nice lunch awaits!

    A wet Britain??? Don't feel bad - still the same for us.


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