Source: Mazda
Source: Mazda

A Photo History of the Wonderful, Weird Mazda Miata

Earlier this month, Mazda announced pricing for the $53,000 MX-5 RS, the available-in-Japan-only racing version of its popular roadster. Don't recognize the name? It's the updated version of the best-selling Miata, which gained the MX-5 moniker a decade ago. Not that anyone noticed. The car—known by either name—is the best-selling roadster of all time. Look back at its history since 1989 and see if you can understand why.

Mazda has made nearly a million MX-5s since the car arrived in 1989, making it the most popular roadster of all time.

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The new Mazda MX-5 Miata sports car, officially known as the Roadster in Japan, at the vehicle's unveiling in Japan. Mazda displayed a new version of its iconic MX-5 Miata sports car for the first time in nine years, counting on the model to help sustain rising sales.

Photographer: Akio Kon/Bloomberg

When the car first came out in 1989, consumers could choose an optional hard top on red models. The car also came in blue and in white.

Photographer: David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Modern MX-5s have things the early ones didn't, including airbags, traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes, and LED headlights. Shown here are models from 1997 (left), 1996 (center), and 1990.

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The original version of the two-seat convertible like this one had four-wheel disc brakes, double-wishbone front and rear suspensions, and a 1.6-liter engine. 

Photographer: Denver Post via Getty Images

The modern version weighs just over 2,300 pounds, 150 lbs. less than earlier models. The models shown here are from the early 1990s.

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The 2016 MX-5 has a two-liter, four-cylinder engine that gets 155 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. These cars are special SEMA models from 2010 and 2011.

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A Miata in New Jersey in 1990.

Photographer: Mario Ruiz/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

The MX-5 has both automatic and manual transmissions available in six-speed, rear-wheel-drive transmissions. These Mazda Roadsters are from 1990 (left), 2005 (center), and 2013.  

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Current models get to 60 miles per hour in six seconds. (This is not very fast.) The gold MX-5 shown here is the 500,000th one ever made; the red one represents model year 2005. 

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A 2003 Mazda Miata. It is only very slightly changed in styling and performance from previous years.

Photographer: David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The new MX-5 has fuel economy of 27 miles per gallon in the city and 34 on the highway, according to Environmental Protection Agency ratings. Older models were considerably less efficient. The Mazda on the right is a 2013 MX-5 Spyder concept. 

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A 2006 Mazda Miata. The car has lightweight aluminum components in the hood, trunk lid, foot control arms, rear uprights, and rear calipers. Its unibody design uses high-strength tensile steel, which increases body strength while decreasing weight. 

Photographer: Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The MX-5 Miata was developed primarily for the North American market. It is available with two head wraps: the Z-fold design soft-top or a power retractable hard top. The orange car on the right is a 2011 SEMA Concept car called the Mazda MX-5 Miata Super 20; the red car on the left is called Mazda MX-5 Miata Super 25. 

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A 2013 Mazda Miata. It has a MZR 2.0-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine with 167 horsepower and 140 lb-ft of torque.

Source: Mazda