The Mazda MX5, or Miata as it was initially known in North America, is one of those cars that have marked automotive history. And to top it off, it was designed by a small independent Japanese manufacturer (small, if we compare it to the giants that are Toyota or Volkswagen, for example).
In the 1980s we witnessed the death throes of the roadster. In continental Europe there are only the Fiat 124 Spider and the Alfa Romeo Spider, which are still in production because they have been profitable for decades and the handful of tifossi who buy them are enough to keep them in production. Of course, in England the Morgan, TVR, Caterham and Westfield are still making a name for themselves, but outside the UK their sales are anecdotal.
However, to the general surprise of the public and the press, Mazda presented a small roadster at the 1989 Chicago Motor Show. At the time, the car was very popular, but all the analysts predicted failure and millions of dollars in losses for Mazda. "If roadsters don't sell," they said.
Mazda knew what they were doing. Without going into the details of the genesis of the MX5 (we'll tell you later), Mazda knew that this type of car could be successful, as the Triumph Spitfire and MG B were in their day, as long as the price was affordable and the reliability was impeccable.
The architecture is classic, front-engined and rear-wheel drive, while the design is reminiscent of the original Lotus Elan in its proportions. Even the oval air intake and the Minilite design wheels are homages to the Elan.
Finally, the car is an unprecedented success. The US market needs 7,000 cars a month, when the Hiroshima factory can produce no more than 3,500 MX5/Miata/Eunos Roadsters a month. Four generations later, MX5 production now exceeds 900,000 units - a Guinness Book of Records-certified record.
The European market had to wait until 1990 to get its hands on an MX5. And the success was similar on this side of the Atlantic, the first 2 years there was some speculation with MX5s brought from the USA.
Almost 20 years later, the original MX5 hasn't aged a bit and continues to turn heads and has a legion of fans. One of them is Garcia (you won't see him in the pictures because he has asked for anonymity) and he has got himself a first generation Miata.
Garcia's Miata (MX5) is not in a perfect condition, the passing of the years is noticeable, but when it came to choosing a MX5 he had to choose a first generation one. As chance would have it, he chose an American version, hence the Miata.
"Mazda is always present, it is one of those brands with personality, able to bring a different vision to the increasingly homogeneous automotive world".
When asked why a Miata, he answers the question himself. "As a car enthusiast Mazda is always present, it is one of those brands with personality, capable of bringing a different vision to the increasingly homogeneous automotive world without falling into banality or nonsense; it is capable of surprising from a mechanical and design point of view."However, he didn't take the plunge until he returned from a trip to Japan: "We stopped in Hiroshima, a city with a tragic history, but a symbol of resurgence, of overcoming adversity; a city that moves and makes you think about the world we live in. Taking advantage of the stop and knowing that Mazda, in addition to the factory, has a museum we decided to make a visit ....
It was as if they opened the doors of their house and invited us to know their history, to show us their photo album, the grandfather's armchair... with Japanese cordiality and education. It was an unforgettable visit where we could see together and touch the history, the present and the future of Mazda... Absolutely free, absolutely priceless.
Once back and as a car enthusiast I found almost unintentionally (...) a small piece of automotive history; a car with an absolutely deserved fame, simple, fun and charismatic. It's a little piece of Japan, it's my Miata NA 1.8, a car that you can love".
Garcia found his NA in Spain, already registered and homologated. The car was originally bought in the United States by its first owner, a military man who was stationed in the UK for a while. He had his car and wasn't going to sell it badly, so he took it to the UK. Since he would have to drive on the left, at least he would have the steering wheel on the "right" side.
The car was then sold in Andalucia, when he was stationed in Rota. After a series of owners in Andalucia, Garcia finally bought the NA and brought it to Barcelona with the firm intention of restoring it.
Obviously, the car has a slightly different equipment than the European one, such as the speakers in the headrests. The passing of the years can be seen -clearly- and in spite of the terrible care shown towards the car by the previous owners, the Miata is still running perfectly. We decided to publish Garcia's Miata even though it's not a concours car because it's a living demonstration of the passion for the MX5 and the reliability desired by the project's creators. Without that bombproof reliability, the MX5 would have followed the same fate as the MG B and Triumph Spitfire.
A tribute to Mazda and its sporting and technological heritage