Welcome back to Miata week here at JNC. We’ve covered the origin story of the world’s favorite sports car, and now we’re at the New York Auto Show, where Mazda’s party for the Miata’s 25th birthday is in full swing. Other automakers take note: This is how you celebrate your history — with 13 historic examples of your heritage at the centerpiece of your booth. Mazda’s display pretty much stole the show, outdoing even Ford’s marking of the Mustang’s New York debut 50 years ago.
Some of these cars may look familiar to you from our article earlier this week. In fact, the cars we photographed where immediately whisked away on a trailer after our shoot, to New York City.
Leading the pack were the red and blue production examples displayed at the Chicago Auto Show in in 1989 at the Miata’s debut. The white one was also a Chicago car, but became the first racing Miata and then the first Miata to win an SCCA race. All of its If you doubted our claims that they were the 14th and 15th Miatas ever built, just check out Mariner Blue’s placard.
Mazda also created its own 25th Anniversary logo for the MX-5, based on a simple line drawing of the NC’s silhouette. And because enthusiasts are so much a part of the MX-5’s quarter century of success, Mazda conjured up the hashtag #MX5turns25 and rotated through photos of MX-5 owners on a large digital collage.
The yellow Club Racer was also a Chicago Auto Show car, proving that Mazda knew about the infinite customizability of the Miata straight from the outset. It still wears its original Yokohama AVS tires wrapped around 15-inch Panasports tucked under flared fenders. We’ll have an in-depth look at this car in an upcoming article.
In 1995 Mazda returned to the Chicago Auto Show with the M-Speedster Concept. With a chopped windscreen and double-bubble cowl headrests, it evoked racing roadsters of yesteryear.
Its electric tangerine re-paint and garish wheels were added on later as an unfortunately result of its appearance in a Fast and Furious film. The original color was a beautiful merlot.
This red car is the only 1998 Miata in existence, a design study conducted between generations that put the NB’s styling on the body of an NA. Removing the pop-up headlights to save weight was a priority, as was a larger trunk. From the head on front view and cut lines along the hood and door, one can see the inspiration taken from the FD RX-7. OZ wheels were emblematic of the times and showed the gulf that existed between US designers and JDM car culture.
Mazda also displayed a 1999 Spec Miata from the SCCA’s one-make series, a tribute to the Miata’s prolific contributions to weekend racing. Only shocks, springs, sway bars, an exhaust and roll cage are required to hit the track in the hugely popular league. Mazda estimates there are over 5,000 MX-5 race cars currently in service around the world.
Finished in one of the NB’s most distinctive colors, Evolution Orange Mica, this particular example also happens to be the half millionth Miata built. It even comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by Mazda’s president. It’s part of Mazda North America’s permanent collection. The current MX-5 count is around 900,000.
Five years later Mazda built its 700,000th Miata, a Velocity Red 2004 Mazdaspeed MX-5. The “Miata” name was dropped, bringing it in line with the global “MX-5″ branding. A slew of mechanical changes were made to make this a Mazdaspeed car, including a turbocharged 1.8-liter putting out 180hp and a 6-speed manual. Even the oil cap and dipstick were lighter than those of the stock MX-5, and Racing Hart wheels rounded out the package. 5,142 Mazdaspeed MX-5s were built over two model years.
The Super20, rocking gray Enkei wheels and painted in Hyper Orange Mica for the 2011 SEMA Show, was a supercharged mod showcase putting out 250hp and built for road racing. Mazda followed it up at the 2012 SEMA Show with the Super25, an enduro-inspired machine with the racing number 55, a tribute to the legendary 787B.
Rounding out the display were two 2013 NCs. The blue and white car, affectionately called “Halfie,” takes a bone stock example and divides it down the middle, with the passenger side remaining stock while the driver’s side becomes a Spec Miata racer. It was an exercise to show how easy it is to take an MX-5 racing.
Speaking of which, beside it sat a former race car that’s competed in 112 hours’ worth of endurance racing (one 13-hour, one 24-hour, and three Thunderhill 25-hour races) in addition to 13 MX-5 Cup events and five Mazda Club Racer Shootouts. After that it lived a life testing tires and shocks for the SCCA Pro Racing MX-5 Cup before retiring to become the pace car at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Over the 25 years the Miata has hosted a slew of special edition cars. To cap off the birthday celebration — and as a last hurrah before the ND debuts — Mazda unveiled the latest, the 2014 25th Anniversary MX-5. Finished in Soul Red with a black hardtop, only 100 units will be produced. Embroidered headrests, 25th Anniversary logos and 17-inch graphite-finish wheels will distinguish it from standard NCs, and if that’s not enough a matching commemorative wristwatch will be included with the car. Mazda will begin taking orders May 20.
Here’s a frightening fact: All these cars will be displayed during the public days of the NY Auto Show. That means the unwashed masses will have free reign to paw and claw these priceless pieces of Mazda history. When we expressed our concern about this, a Mazda PR rep joked that they were going to invite the local Miata club to stand guard.
The show opens to the public April 18 and runs till the 27th. If you happen to be in the Big Apple, we highly recommend stopping buy the Jacob Javits Convention Center to see the cars. And maybe help with the preservation efforts.