Ah, the history of the Mazda Miata MX-5. A little roadster with a big personality. This car has been turning heads and putting smiles on drivers’ faces since it debuted at the Chicago Auto Show on this day in 1989. It all started in the 80s, when the folks at Mazda started feeling a bit nostalgic for the classic British roadsters of the ’60s. So, they decided to build their own, with a Japanese twist. The result was the MX-5 Miata, a compact, lightweight sports car that was designed to be fun and affordable, and it was. When it first hit the lot it had a starting price of about $14,000.
The first generation of the Miata, the NA, was a hit from the get-go. With its snappy handling, quick acceleration, and drop-top fun, the Miata quickly became the go-to car for weekend warriors and gearheads alike. More than 400,000 units sold globally between its release and the end of NA production in 1997. But Mazda wasn’t content to rest on their laurels. Over the years, they continued to improve the Miata, adding more power, more features, and more style with each new generation.
Mazda MX-5 NB
One of the highlights of the Miata’s evolution came with the introduction of the “NB” model in the late 90s. This iteration of the car was even more stylish, with a sleek, modern look that still managed to harken back to its classic roots. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on who you ask. The car lost its pop up headlights due to pedestrian safety concerns. However, it did gain more Zoom-Zoom, up to 142 horsepower over the 116 of the NA generation.
While numberous special editions came from the NB production run, the Mazdaspeed MX-5 stands out as the only MX-5 to be turbocharged at the factory. The Mazdaspeed variant, built for 2004 and 2005, saw power increased to 178 hp thanks to its turbocharged 1.8-liter engine. This extra oomph pushed the car to a 15.2 second quarter mile and a 0–60 mph of 6.7 seconds.
Mazda NC & ND Miata
A real game-changer came with the third generation of the Miata, the “NC.” This model, introduced in 2005 and lasting until 2015, added a power retractable hardtop, which made it easier than ever to enjoy the Miata’s top-down driving experience. And it also featured a more powerful engine, which meant that drivers could have even more fun with the throttle. The NC won the Car of the Year Japan award for 2005-2006 and landed on Car and Driver’s ten best list from 2006 through 2013.
And now, we have the latest generation of the Miata, the “ND” This model is lighter, more powerful, and more technologically advanced than ever before. And yet, it still manages to stay true to the spirit of the original Miata, with its focus on fun, affordability, and classic roadster style. On April 22, 2016, Mazda broke its own Guinness World Record by producing its one millionth MX-5. It had first snagged the record for best selling two seat sports car in history in the year 2000 after the 531,890th Miata left the assembly line.
So there you have it, a history of the Mazda Miata. A car that’s not just a mode of transportation, but a way of life. A car that proves that sometimes, the simplest things in life are the best. And a car that will always put a smile on your face, no matter what. They’re pretty cheap, too, and that’s sweet. Hey, Jordan, sing your car happy birthday today.