Vroom Vroom! A Brief History of the Mazda Miata


Sometimes there are objects designed so well we could never see them another way. Many times it’s their simplicity that makes them iconic. No surprise then that the best-selling two-seater sports car in Guinness World Records is the Mazda Miata.

Ever since first appearing on the scene, the Miata fits the category of iconic. And the design changes over the years have been few. Here’s a brief history of Mazda Miata, the little roadster that turns people on.

Mazda Miata Makes a Big Splash

The love affair was instant for many when the MX-5 Miata debuted at the Chicago Auto Show in 1989. At only 2,000 pounds, it got billed as a lightweight sports car. The Miata lived up to its marque with rear-wheel drive and an inline four-cylinder motor.

The simple rounded front design, two seats, and a top that goes down spoke sportscar all over. Since its inception, Mazda Miata has seen only three style design changes in thirty-plus years.

The car began as a sketch drawing in the 1970s by Bob Hall. The journalist gave the drawing to Mazda’s head of R &D. It took some convincing, but it became a reality a decade later.

First Generation

Mazda agreed to begin making the affordable sports car at the end of the 80s. The model years 1989 to 1997 first featured a 1.6 L engine, which produced 115 horsepower.

By 1997, the lightweight sports car received a 1.8 L mother, increasing the output to 131 hp. But the lightness of the car made the powerplant fast. And the slim design made the MX-5 Miata very agile.

The first American models came in 1990. And it didn’t take long for the roadster to catch on with people looking for fun. The original design had a rounded front with pop-up headlights.

Second Generation

MX-5 Miata NB debuted at the 1997 Tokyo Auto Show. Yet, the first model year was 1999 for the revamped model. The only significant style change was the headlights.

New laws forced the Manufacturer to do away with pop-ups. But there were other improvements such as a six-speed transmission and leather interior. Upgraded shocks and new color choices added to the classier look.

Mazda also added a special edition model, including a turbocharged high-performance edition. In 2002, the Mazda Miata SP sported a 180 hp engine that went from 0-60 in only six seconds. Mazda built only 7,500 of these models of the SP edition.

But even before the SP model hit the road, Mazda Miata broke the record for the best-selling sports car in 2000. The love affair was complete. Competitors tried to imitate the MX-5 Miata’s success, but they would never catch up.

Newest Generation Mazda Miata

The Geneva International Auto Show got the first glimpse of the 2005 version of the Mazda Miata. New to the lineup was a 2.0L engine and a retractable hardtop roof. The Mazda Roadster Edition became an instant hit with the public.

In 2014, the one-millionth MX-5 Miata rolled off the line. The following year, Mazda Miata got a more prominent grille design.

The lightweight sports car is now one of the most accessible convertibles on the market. Buyers have no trouble getting Miata parts anywhere they live.

Fun Under the Sun

Simple design and sporty fun are what gave the Mazda Miata its popularity. The look has changed a little, but the excitement remains. Lightweight sports car dynamics at a reasonable price keep drawing fans to the MX-5 Miata.

It won’t surprise if Mazda Miata continues to outsell all comers. So if this article revved you up, come back for more excellent stories about the cars we love.


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