In celebration of these achievements, Mazda has brought a 25th anniversary special edition Miata to the New York auto show, a glimpse into the next generation Miata set to arrive within the next 12 months, and an array of 15 iconic Miatas from the past 25 years – including the 1996 M Coupe concept and the only 1998 Miata ever built.
The philosophy of the original Miata was simple: Create a two-seater sports car that evokes a sense of passion; a car that makes you smile. It wasn't about numbers or statistics. Nor was it about following a form book; although it clearly took inspiration from the legendary British roadsters of the 1960s. What was expected to sell in the range of a few hundred a month turned into thousands. Today, around 1 million Miatas have been sold globally, making it the best-selling two seater sports car this world has ever seen.
Over the years, imitators have come and gone – such as the BMW Z3 and the Pontiac Solstice. When GM released its roadster in 2005, Bob Hall, a former car journalists turned product planner at Mazda who was responsible for imagining the original Miata, remembers the time well: "They just didn't get it," he said. "And it was the same with BMW. I couldn't help but laugh. A Miata is not about a number; it's about a feeling."
Tom Matano, the designer of the first Miata, noted that the car initially had no competition. It stood alone in its class – affordable, simple and yet infectious. Matano, the man we must thank for the original's glorious pop-up headlamps, feels confident that the fourth-generation Miata, slated to arrive at next year's Chicago auto show (the location of the original's debut), will be further inline with his original design: "I think our mentality from back then is still very present here at Mazda, and you will see that in the new car."
Complementing Matano's statement, Mazda revealed that next Miata, arriving on its SkyActiv platform, will be around 220 lbs. lighter than the current model. Don't expect a massive power increase though – as Hall put it, "A Miata is not about power. That's isn't why you buy one."
If you can't wait for the upcoming fourth generation roadster, 100 special edition Miatas will be arriving on U.S. shores this spring. The changes are aesthetic and mild, but in another 25 years, they too may be gracing the show floor at the New York auto show; as Mazda Chairman Takashi Yamanouchi said, the Miata has become the company's "brand icon."
With the deep, yet ever-present roots set forth by Hall and Matano, we wouldn't be surprised.