Santa's sleigh is small, lightweight, and has a droptop.
Think of the happiest car you can, and you'll likely think of the Mazda MX-5 Miata. It's almost impossible to see the smiling face on any of the four generations and not grin broadly at the sight. But that's not the only way the Miata brings joy to people's lives. In Japan, cheerfulness of a different kind is spread around this time every year, as an army of Miata-driving Santas spreads Christmas cheer to Japanese children. That's because the Mazda Roadster Club of Japan has made a tradition out of decking their cars with tinsel and decorations and taking local kids out for a drive as the cars parade through the streets.
This year marks the 13th annual running of the Santa Drive. What originally started in Yokohama when the city asked various organizations for Santa-themed charity over the festive season has blossomed into something more, as even Mazda HQ is now in on the action, starting in 2018 and continuing with its own run every year since.
The parade, which features Miatas decked in Christmas gear driven by Santa of all ages, doesn't just bring a smile to the faces of kids that get to ride along, but raises money for a good cause too, raising funds for single-parent families in the Tokyo, Yokohama, and Hiroshima areas.
All in, around 280 families took part in this year's festivities. In Japan, convertibles are not a common sight, despite the Miata and other historic greats like the Honda S2000 hailing from the country. The MX-5 Miata is one of the last remaining Japanese drop-tops after the demise of the Nissan 370Z Roadster, with no confirmed replacement at this stage for the Z cabrio. Despite rumors suggesting the next-gen MX-5 will go hybrid, we can be sure that the famous roadster will live on as a convertible. The 2021 running of the parade carries special meaning, as just a few short weeks ago Shunji Tanaka, the designer of the fist-gen Miata, passed away at the age of 75.