Today’s Mazda MX-5 Club is the descendant of a revolutionary model—sort of. We say sort of, because while back in 1989 Mazda indeed started something of a revolution with the introduction of the MX-5 Miata, it was more the reigniting of a previous revolution. The true revolution actually dated all the way back to the late 1940s, when sports cars first started getting their footing in North America. Many American World War II veterans, having become enamored with the style and agility of European sports cars, brought them home after the war.
As a result, models like the MG TC and the Triumph TR2 became quite popular among American motoring enthusiasts. Other manufacturers, recognizing the potential of this slice of the market, started shipping over two-seat convertible models as well. Truly enjoyable to drive (though glacially slow and rather ponderously handling by today’s standards) and distinctly affordable to purchase, they went on to became icons in their own right. Thing is, they offered very little protection from the elements and they were notoriously unreliable.
Didn’t stop sales though; by the middle of the 1970s, the wealth of such offerings had ultimately come to include the MG-B, Triumph TR7, Triumph Spitfire, Alfa Romeo Spider, Fiat X1/9, and the Fiat 124 Spider. Eventually though, their faults began to outweigh their virtues, and while weather protection eventually became more substantial, reliability remained an issue. With the fuel crises and economic slowdowns of the late 1970’s, the market petered out and eventually ceased to exist—or it seemed to. By 1989, when the MX-5 was introduced, there was but one other relatively affordable, two-seat convertible sports car left on the market in the US—the Alfa Romeo Spider—and its days were numbered.
Thus, when Mazda showed the Miata (nee MX-5) at the Chicago Auto Show in 1989, the car was a breath of fresh air. Good looking, fun to drive, exceptionally reliable, and incredibly affordable (if you could find one at sticker price) the Mazda MX-5 was the beginning of the small sports car revolution—all over again.