For as far back as I can remember, my dad's side of the family has been a Mazda family. Between my dad, my aunt, and my grandmother, I can count at least 7 Mazdas that they've owned in just my lifetime: three Mazda 626s, two Mazda Proteges, a Mazda6, and a Mazda MPV. My dad actually currently owns a Hyundai Sonata, but growing up, Mazdas were pretty much all I knew. They were always a little bit sportier than their Honda/Toyota counterparts, and they were definitely cooler. To this day, I still remember the awesomeness that was the oscillating air vents in that fourth generation 626 that we had. Their motion always reminded me of caterpillars, and as far as I was concerned, the oscillating function needed to always be on when we were driving. Why more cars didn't adopt that feature, I have no idea.
Other than the incredibly cool oscillating air vents though, that 626's best feature was the fact that it also had a manual transmission. I don't think I ever fully understood what I was doing, but sometimes, when I was riding with my dad, he'd let me be in charge of shifting the gears. We'd be driving along, usually blaring Mike Cross's Best of the Funny Stuff tape, and he'd call out a number. I, being the super helpful and best son that I was, would then move the shifter into that gear while he handled the clutch and accelerator. It took way, way longer to let me shift for him, but he was kind enough to try to let me feel like I was helping, and that was awesome. There's also a slight chance that allowing a 4 year old to shift gears from the passenger seat is technically illegal, but it was over 20 years ago, so I'm not terribly worried.
Being able to help shift was always the coolest. None of my friends' parents drove cars with manuals, and none of their cars had oscillating air vents, so clearly my dad's car was the coolest, even when it had 200,000 miles on it. Basically, my dad spent many of my most impressionable years of my youth indoctrinating me with Mazda and manual transmission superiority. If any of my friends are getting tired of the fact that I keep trying to get them to buy a Mazda3 with a manual transmission, they have only my dad to blame. It's all his fault.
Not everybody has the luxury of having their dad indoctrinate them properly though. Some people don't even know someone who owns a manual (or even a Mazda). Thinking about this travesty eventually led to my latest post over at The Smoking Tire, and I'd appreciate hearing your thoughts too.
Collin writes a weekly editorial for The Smoking Tire. He currently owns a BMW, not a Mazda, but he still insists that Mazdas are awesome. Just last Saturday, he tried to convince a friend to buy an RX-8 instead of an Accord. He failed.
Photo Credit: TrialX