A group of ex-rally drivers and their navigators piloted "the world's best handling sports cars" around rural Whanganui roads yesterday.

There were 13 Mazda MX5 sports cars parked up at Bushy Park Homestead while their owners - some of the 48 members of the Manawatū MX5 Club - had lunch.

Club co-ordinator Peter Griffiths had sent them off from Feilding at 10.30am, for a run along rural Rangitīkei and Whanganui roads. Following his instructions they travelled "lovely country roads" around Marton and reached the homestead via Brunswick Rd.

After lunch they planned to motor off to Bason Botanic Gardens.

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MX5 sportscars of all eras park up at the Bushy Park Homestead. Photo / Lewis Gardner
MX5 sportscars of all eras park up at the Bushy Park Homestead. Photo / Lewis Gardner

The Mazda MX5 is a cult car, Griffiths said. It doesn't suffer from rust or need repair, and is superbly reliable and easy to handle. It has the features of a more expensive car but a new one costs just $50,000 and a second hand one could be priced as low as $5000.

The first MX5 series was made in 1989, and the cars are still being made and still popular.

"Quite a few of the owners are ex-rally drivers, or hoons when young," Griffiths said.

The club meets twice a month for runs and dinners, and members have made good friendships.