Moss Miata
The Miata of the Month from

July 2012

Fred Santillo and his 1997 STO

Congratulations to Fred on the selection of his STO as the July Miata of the Month!

My Miata experience all started out as just being a rental in 1993 for an ex girlfriend of mine for her birthday. I was in San Diego at the time and she had always wanted to drive a Miata. So for her birthday I thought what better gift to give her then a weekend with a Miata?

There was an auto rental location that I found that had Miatas as rentals. It was a white Miata with your basic black interior. We were working at the same location so at lunch on her birthday I drove her down to pick it up. She was totally surprised.

We had it for 3 days and drove it everywhere. I also managed to get some behind the wheel time and was really impressed on how well this little roadster handled.

That led me to my first Miata, a 1993 Black and Red Limited Edition with a hardtop that I bought new that same year. It was a beautiful car and always thought it was destined to be classic. Three years later after moving to the Bay Area and then needing to relocate to Orange County due to a job move I found myself having to sell my “Black and Red” due to financial reasons. This was a very sad day and as I saw it drive off under new ownership I was already looking forward to my next Miata.

It happened five years later. I had been looking but nothing was clicking until I saw a 1997 sitting in the used car lot at a Mazda dealer in almost perfect condition. After a test drive, I said to myself this was it. I knew this also was another Limited Edition model when I found the “STO” floormats in the trunk and a badge beside the glove box that reads “STO” Edition 1248 of 1500.

After some quick negotiating and a drive only a Miata can give you, it was parked happily in my garage. I did some research on-line when I made it home that day and first learned the history about this model. The paint color for the “STO” Edition is Twilight Blue Mica with tan leather interior and a tan top which truly makes this Miata stand out from the rest. Also included were stainless sill plates and a rear lip spoiler along with a Nardi leather wrapped shift knob and 15” Enkei 5-spoke wheels.

Out of all the Limited Edition Miatas I feel this one truly has a story to tell. It was the last of the NAs to be produced in a Limited Edition run of 1500 Miatas before they closed the assembly line to start the NB Models. The one I own was manufactured in July of 1997. So this year would be the 15th Anniversary of this special model.

I managed to get personalized plates that read “STO LE” (Special Touring Option Limited Edition) and this is always an attention getter. Lots of people ask me what my plates mean and I am more then happy to tell them the “STO” history.

It’s now modified, mostly suspension and some performance and appearance enhancements but the basic “STO” package is still apparent. I am now engaged and my fiancée Tina just loves our Miata adventures. She is always looking forward to the next drive. Over the years I have had so much fun and have met some of the nicest people all because of this truly incredible roadster. It's hard to believe but for me this all started with a rental.

Fred Santillo
Laguna Niguel, CA. USA

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