It was 1989. Mazda came out with this neat little car called the MX-5 Miata, an anachronistic two seat roadster that looked of 1960s British origin, with solid build quality (shiny paint, precise and consistent body panel gaps, reliable electronics), and a starting price of around $13,000 ($25,000 in 2014 dollars).
Lo and behold the market embraced it and the Miata became a runaway hit. Fast forward to 1998 and Mazda did it again with the next generation model. By 2000, with more than 700,000 units sold, it was named the best selling two seat convertible of all time by the Guinness Book of World Records.
At the 2005 Geneva Motor Show Mazda unveiled the third generation MX-5 for model year 2006. The U.S.-only Miata moniker was formally dropped in favor of global consistency, but seems to have survived nonetheless.
Body and Chassis
Designed as a lightweight, compact two seat roadster with the simple purpose of pure driving pleasure, it shares its platform with the rotary engined Mazda RX-8. Engineers worked diligently on a “gram strategy” to reduce weight wherever possible.
Compared to the outgoing model (internally designated NB), the third generation NC model is slightly longer and wider. The wheelbase grew 2.6 inches while track width increased more than three inches. These changes allowed for placement of the engine and gearbox about six inches further back in the chassis for improved weight distribution and reduced polar moment of inertia, which can be explained as running around a corner with a bowling ball instead of a ladder of the same weight. It’s easier with the bowling ball.
Further weight savings were achieved through the use of aluminum in the hood, trunklid, wheels and front suspension arms. Double wishbone front suspension and a five link setup at the rear, to better control toe angle, are connected to the road via standard 16 x 6.5 inch wheels all around.
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