Mazda recently announced another automotive milestone for everyone’s favorite little roadster. The “Best selling two-seat sports car in the world” is again the Mazda MX-5 Miata.
The announcement stated that “Total production of Mazda Motor Corporation’s MX-5 sports car (known as the Mazda Roadster in Japan) reached 900,000 units on February 4, 2011. This significant milestone was achieved 21 years and 10 months after mass production of the first-generation MX-5 commenced in April 1989. The MX-5 was initially certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s “Best selling two-seat sports car” when production reached 531,890 units in May 2000. Guinness updated the record when production passed 700,000 and, later, 800,000 units. Currently, Mazda is reapplying to Guinness World Records to have the record updated to 900,000 units”.
Mazda took the title from the MGB (1962-1980) when production surpassed 514,853 units. Second place on the list is held by the Porsche 911 series (1963 – Present) which has sold over 700,000 units.
But, before anyone could pop the champagne bottles, cries of foul rose from the automotive blogosphere. It seems that the Chevrolet Corvette hit the same milestone years ago, and sales now are estimated at 1.5 million copies. Gearheads and forum harpies can’t figure out why the Vette is not the world record holder, and they are ripping up the internet with complaints. I looked for an answer, but only found the assumptions that the Corvette is classified as a luxury sports vehicle, or the award is rigged.
Either way, the Miata is a great little car. I bought one about a year ago, and am constantly reminded of my old MGB when I am behind the wheel. The Miata feels and looks like a modern car. It has plenty of power for its size, and sports a modern, well equipped interior. The mechanicals are excellent, with a proper rear wheel drive setup that you can let out easily in the corners. Styling has improved from the “marital aid” look, to a more muscular stance, with a beefier rear end. New models even offer a steel retractable hardtop. From the outside, it is a typical subcompact.
It’s when you are driving the car that its shows it’s personality. Handling is quick and precise. Power is instantly available (though limited) and comes with a nice throaty exhaust note. With the top down it transports you to the days when Spitfires ruled the skies, and Triumphs ruled the roads. Driving this car is an absolute blast.
It does have its downside, however. The Miata is the size of a toaster, and is limited as a daily driver for anyone with friends. For example, having a child and a wife forces you into a “Sophie’s Choice” situation. One of them has to go. If you have a flat, there is no spare tire…but there is a kit in the trunk that allows you to repair it using a rubber tree and some glue. On long trips, the car shrinks until it becomes the size of a baby’s shoe, causing you to gasp for air like a Louisiana fish. Passengers over 5’ 10” can fit in the car, as long as they can place their feet on their shoulders. Finally, even with the roof up, the noise on the highway will be more than your stereo (or ears) can handle.
Aside from all that, the Miata is cheap, fun, and very stylish. For the money, nothing else comes close. Back when it was introduced in 1989, it was hailed as the ultimate retro-car, bringing back a sense of open top motoring from the 1960’s. It still has that feel. During the 22 years it’s been with us, it has gone through two complete redesigns, spawned the Spec Miata racing series, and gained legions of dedicated (though short) fans across the world. Not bad for a typical subcompact.
Photos courtesy of motortrend.com, ictmotorsports.com and netcarshow.com
Article courtesy of Chris Raymond