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Motoring: Mazda MX5 - 1989

The Mazda MX-5 (it is known as the Miata in the US) is Madza's most successful model ever, having taken the concept of the European budget price 2-seater sports car a-la-MGB, improved on it and beaten the masters at their own game in terms of style, reliability, value for money and sustained re-sale value. During its first 15 years on the market, it had reigned supreme as the world's most popular 2-door sports car during every year of its production, and its popularity shows no signs of abating.

The car came into being in the early 1980's, as a result of Mazda taking a serious look at its future. It was noted that no car manufacturer had filled the gap in the market left when British Leyland stopped making the MGB. A design competition was held between MANA (Mazda North America) and Mazda Tokyo to come up with an idea for a sportscar. The Japanese worked on a front engine, front wheel drive (FF) version as well as mid engine, rear drive alternative (MR). MANA chose the front engine, rear driven (FR) concept for their model. The first comparisons between the competing teams took place in April 1984. The mid engine variety was scrapped and the two teams went back to the drawing boards. A few months later they met again to review their designs.

By September 1985 the first prototype was built. After an initial test drive in England where it had been built, the car was shipped to Santa Barbara, California. There they took it for a drive through the streets and the response was enormous. By 1986 plans were in full swing for a production model with the first car rolling of the production line in 1989. The rest, as they say, is history. Like the Volkswagen Beetle and the Porsche 911, subtle styling changes have taken place over the years, but it has remained true to the timeless design that Mazda originally came up with for the model's initial release.

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