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1989 to Today: The History of the Mazda MX-5 Miata



On the morning of February 9, 1989 the majority of the attendees at the Chicago Auto Show probably had no idea they would be watching the unveiling of what would become the worlds best selling two-seat convertible. Heck, I doubt the team from Japanese care maker, Mazda, could imagine the popularity their "British style" roadster would soon have. That day the original Mazda MX-5 Miata was unveiled to the world by Japanese car maker Mazda Motor Corporation.


At Motorsport Enterprises Racing we specialize in maintenance, repair, tuning, and every other aspect of keeping your MX-5 on the road whether it's your daily driver, weekend cruiser, or souped up track car.


From that iconic 'NA' that debuted in 1989, with its flip up headlights and soft lines that made it appear as if it was smiling to oncoming drivers on the road, to the absolutely MEAN appearance of the MX-5 RF of today, the Mazda MX-5 Miata has gone through several stages of it's evolution. It doesn't matter which Miata showcases your garage, this 2 seat British style roadster is a ton of fun to drive. Let's take a look at how the MX-5 Miata has changed since it hit American roads in 1989 to today.


First Generation Mazda MX-5 Miata 'NA': The Car Whose Smile was ALMOST as Big as it's Drivers



It took 7 years of planning, research, development, and testing before the first Miata MX-5 was run through the production line. It was first introduced to the world in February 1989 at the Chicago Auto Show, and the first models went on sale in May of the same year. It featured those iconic flip up headlights that were so popular on the sports cars of the 80's, and a large front grill that made it appear almost as if it was smiling at oncoming drivers on the road. Although it's 1.6-liter, four-cylinder still took approximately 9 seconds to reach 60mph, and only peaked at 115 horsepower, the grin on the drivers face as the wind blew through their hair still outshone the grin on the grill of the car they drove.


Second Generation Mazda MX-5 Miata 'NB': The MX-5 Evolves to Pack a Bigger Punch



In 1998 the MX-5 made its first major evolution toward what we see today. The MX-5 now featured a more "in your face", aggressive look than it's 'NA' predecessor, and packed a larger punch with it's 1.8-liter, 140HP motor. The 'NB' MX-5 could reach a top speed of 130MPH which was 4 more than the 'NA' regardless of the nearly 300lbs of extra weight. It carries a significantly higher speed through the corners than both the 'NA' and the 'NC' that would follow it. Manufactured for year models 1999 through 2005, this Miata might be the fastest and most fun around the track.


Third Generation Mazda MX-5 Miata 'NC': The Callum Family Steps in for a Redesign



While the 'NB' Miata may be the fastest, most balanced car around the track, fans of the car were less than impressed with the car's design. In steps the Callum Family. Known for their work with Aston Martin and Jaguar, the Callum Family's influence on the Mazda MX-5 Miata 'NC' can be seen in it's unibody design, pronounced wheel wells, and bulging hood that made the car appear as if the engine had it bursting from the seems. Featuring a 2.0-liter, 170HP 4-cylinder engine and the first standard option, 6-speed transmission for the Miata this car looks COOL. The 2006 MX-5 also introduced the Power Retractable Hardtop (PRHT). The 'NC' Miata ran from 2006 to 2015 ushering in the current 'ND' model available today.


Forth Generation Mazda MX-5 Miata 'ND': Faster, Lighter, and Absolutely Gorgeous, the Miata Enters the Future




Reducing the horsepower 15HP, but reducing the car's weight by over 200lb, in enters the 'ND' Mazda MX-5 Miata. Sporting a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, and a GORGEOUS redesign of this bada** roadster, the fourth generation MX-5 quickly became the most popular of all the Miata's. Not only that, but sales of the MX-5 surpassed 1 million units. This makes it the best-selling, 2-seat option, open-top sports car of all time.





In 2017 Mazda introduced the MX-5 'RF' which without question is the best looking Miata and possibly one of the best looking roadsters ever built. It added 113lbs from the standard 'ND', but in return added a folding top system that allowed the power retractable top to fold behind the rear pillars.


Mazda decided in 2019 the 'ND' needed more power, so they went back to the drawing board redesigning the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine adding 26HP and moving the redline from 6800 RPM to 7500 RPM.


Looking Into the Past to Tell the Future


When you look at the current style of the Mazda MX-5 Miata it is hard not to draw comparisons to that smiley little roadster debuted by the Japanese car maker back in 1989. The MX-5 certainly has a cult following among motorsports enthusiasts. As Mazda looks toward the future of the Miata, they look to bring the Miata closer to the future of motorsports by considering a hybrid or even full electric MX-5 with the coming of the fifth generation.


At Motorsport Enterprises Racing we LOVE to see Miata's of all shapes and sizes, from racecars to daily drivers. We are experts in providing you with whatever you need to ensure your MX-5 stays on the road or the track. Come see us at our shop at Motorsport Ranch located at 9035 Performance Rd. in Cresson, TX just southwest of Ft. Worth whether you need maintenance, repairs, upgrades, or simply wanna talk shop with our experienced mechanics, we look forward to seeing you soon!

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