MX5 Miata VR-Limited (NA,J) '95

History

The MX-5, also known as Miata in North America and Eunos Roadster in Japan, is a lightweight two-seater roadster, of front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout, built by Mazda in Hiroshima, Japan. The model was introduced in 1989 at the
Chicago Auto Show. The MX-5 was conceived as a small roadster – with light weight and minimal mechanical complexity limited only by legal and safety requirements; technologically modern, but a philosophically direct descendant of
the small British roadsters of the 1960s such as the Triumph Spitfire, Austin-Healey Sprite, MG Midget and Lotus Elan.

The second generation MX-5 (NB) was launched in 1998 and the current (NC) model has been in production since 2006. It continues to be the best-selling two-seat convertible sports car in history and by February 2011, 900,000
MX-5s have been built and sold around the world.

Since the launch of the third generation MX-5, Mazda consolidated worldwide marketing using the MX-5 name, though enthusiasts in the USA still refer to it as Miata, a name that means "reward" in Old High German.

Generations and overview

The MX5's first generation, the NA, sold over 400,000 units from 1989 to 1997 – with a 1.6 L (98 cu in) straight-4 engine to 1993, a 1.8 L (110 cu in) engine thereafter (with a de-tuned 1.6 as a budget option in some markets) –
recognizable by its pop-up headlights. The second generation (NB) was introduced in 1998 with a slight increase in engine power; it can be recognized by the fixed headlights and the glass rear window. The third generation (NC) was
introduced in 2005 with a 2.0 L (120 cu in) engine.

It was launched at a time when production of small roadsters had fallen into almost total disuse. The Alfa Romeo Spider was the only comparable volume model in production at the time of the MX-5's launch. Just a decade earlier, a
whole host of similar models - notably the MG B, Triumph TR7, Triumph Spitfire and Fiat Spider - had been available.

The body is a conventional, but light, unibody or monocoque construction, with (detachable) front and rear subframes. The MX-5 also incorporates a truss marketed as the Powerplant Frame (PPF) which connects the engine to the
differential, minimizing flex and contributing to responsive handling. Some MX-5s feature limited slip differentials and anti-lock braking system. Traction control is an option available on NC models. The earlier cars weighed in at
just over a ton, with engine power output usually 116 bhp (87 kW). The later cars were heavier, with higher power engines.

With an approximate 50:50 front/rear weight balance, the car has nearly neutral handling. Inducing oversteer is easy and very controllable, thus making the MX-5 a popular choice for amateur and stock racing, including, in the USA,
the Sports Car Club of America's Solo2 autocross and Spec Miata race series and in the UK the Ma5da racing championship.

The MX-5 has won many awards including Wheels Magazine 's Car of the Year for 1989 and 2005; Sports Car International's "best sports car of the 1990s" and "ten best sports cars of all time"; 2005-2006 Car of the Year Japan; and
2005 Australian Car of the Year - and making Car and Driver magazine's annual Ten Best list 10 times.

In 2009, Automotive critic Jeremy Clarkson wrote:
“The fact is that if you want a sports car, the MX-5 is perfect. Nothing on the road will give you better value. Nothing will give you so much fun. The only reason I’m giving it five stars is because I can’t give it 14.”

From idea to production

In 1976, Bob Hall, a journalist at Motor Trend magazine who was an expert in Japanese cars and fluent in the language, met Kenichi Yamamoto and Gai Arai, head of Research and Development at Mazda. Yamamoto and Gai Arai asked Hall
what kind of car Mazda should make in the future:
“I babbled how the simple, bugs-in-the-teeth, wind-in-the-hair, classically-British sports car doesn't exist anymore. I told Mr. Yamamoto that somebody should build one inexpensive roadster.”

In 1981, Hall moved to a product planning position with Mazda US and again met Yamamoto, now chairman of Mazda Motors, who remembered their conversation about a roadster and in 1982 gave Hall the go-ahead to research the idea
further. At this time Hall hired designer Mark Jordan to join the newly formed Mazda design studio in Southern California. There, Hall and Jordan collaborated on the parameters of the initial image, proportion and visualization of
the "light-weight sports" concept. In 1983, the idea turned concept was approved under the "Offline 55" program, an internal Mazda initiative that sought to change the way new models were developed. Thus, under head of project
Masakatsu, the concept development was turned into a competition between the Mazda design teams in Tokyo and California.

The Californian team proposed a front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout, codenamed Duo 101, in line with the British roadster ancestry, but their Japanese counterparts favored the more common front-engine, front-wheel drive layout or
the rear mid-engine, rear-wheel drive layout.

The first round of judging the competing designs was held in April 1984. At this stage, designs were presented solely on paper. The mid-engined car appeared the most impressive, although it was known at the time that such a layout
would struggle to meet the noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) requirements of the project. It was only at the second round of the competition in August 1984, when full-scale clay models were presented, that the Duo 101 won the
competition and was selected as the basis for Mazda's new light-weight sports car.

The Duo 101, so named as either a soft top or hard top could be used, incorporated many key stylistic cues inspired by the Lotus Elan, a 1960s roadster. International Automotive Design (IAD) in Worthing, England was commissioned to
develop a running prototype, codenamed V705. It was built with a fiberglass body, a 1.4 L (85 cu in) engine from a Mazda Familia and components from a variety of early Mazda models. The V705 was completed in August 1985 and taken
to the U.S.A. where it rolled on the roads around Santa Barbara and got positive reactions.

The project received final approval on 18 January 1986. The model's codename was changed to P729 as it moved into production phase, under head of program Toshihiko Hirai. The task of constructing five engineering mules (more
developed prototypes) was again allocated to IAD, which also conducted the first front and rear crash tests on the P729. While Tom Matano, Mark Jordan, Wu Huang Chin, Norman Garrett and Koichi Hayashi worked on the final design,
the project was moved to Japan for engineering and production details.

By 1989, with a definitive model name now chosen, the MX-5 (as in "Mazda Experiment", project number 5) was ready to be introduced to the world as a true lightweight sports car, weighing just 940 kg (2,100 lb).

Jinba ittai

The design credo Mazda has used across the three generations of the MX5's development was the phrase Jinba ittai, which translates loosely into English as "rider (jin) horse (ba) as one body (ittai)".

With the first generation of the MX-5, the phrase was developed into five specific core design requirements:

That the car would be as compact and as light as possible while meeting global safety requirements.
That the cockpit would comfortably accommodate two full-stature[clarification needed] occupants with no wasted space.
That the basic layout would continue with the original's front-midship rear-drive configuration with the engine positioned ahead of the driver but behind the front axle for 50:50 weight distribution.
That all four wheels would be attached by wishbone or multi-link suspension systems to maximize tire performance, road grip, and dynamic stability.
And that a power-plant frame would again provide a solid connection between the engine and rear-mounted differential to sharpen throttle response.

Although Mazda's concept was for the MX-5 to be an inexpensive sports car, the market proved extremely eager for it; the car became an overnight novelty, resulting in many dealers placing customers on lists for pre-order due to the
demand exceeding the anticipated supply. Several dealers across North America resultingly took advantage of this high demand and dramatically increased the markup on the vehicle; some asked for as much as USD $17,000 retail price.

First generation (NA)

The MX-5 was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show on February 10, 1989, with a price tag of US$14,000 (US$25,400 in 2011 adjusted for inflation). The MX-5, with production code NA, was made available for delivery to buyers worldwide
in the following dates: March 1989 in Japan; May 1989 (as a 1990 model) in the USA and Canada; and 1990 in Europe. An optional hardtop was made available at the same time, in sheet moulding compound (SMC). Demand initially
outstripped production, fueled by enthusiastic press reviews.

In Japan, the car was not badged as a Mazda, as the company was experimenting with the creation of different marques for deluxe models, similar to Nissan's Infiniti and Toyota's Lexus (both brands of which launched at the same time
as the Miata). Instead, the Mazda MX-5 was sold as the Eunos Roadster in that market.

The body shell of the NA was all-steel with a light-weight aluminium hood. Overall dimensions were 3,970 mm (156 in) in length, 1,675 mm (65.9 in) in width, and 1,235 mm (48.6 in) in height. Without options, the NA weighed only
2,150 lb (980 kg). Drag coefficient was indicated as 0.38. Suspension was an independent double wishbone on all four wheels, with an anti-roll bar at the front and rear. Four wheel-disc brakes, ventilated at the front, were behind
alloy wheels with 185/60HR14 radial tires. The base model came with stamped steel wheels from the then-current 323/Protege.

The original MX-5 came with a 1.6 L (98 cu in) dual overhead cam inline four-cylinder engine, producing 86 kW (115 bhp) at 6,800 rpm, and 136 N·m (100 lbf·ft) of torque at 5,500 rpm. The engine employs an electronic fuel injection
system using a vane-type air flow meter and an electronic ignition system with a camshaft angle sensor instead of a distributor. This engine, codename B6ZE(RS), was specifically designed for the MX-5 and featured a lightened
crankshaft, flywheel, and aluminum sump with cooling fins.

Standard transmission was 5-speed manual. In Japan and the USA, an optional automatic transmission was also offered but proved to be unpopular. The Japanese and American markets also received an optional viscous limited slip rear
differential, although it was only available for cars with a manual transmission. To achieve the low introductory price, the base model was stripped. It had steel wheels, manual steering, roll-up windows, and no stereo or
air-conditioning. Power steering, air-conditioning, and stereo were added as standard equipment in later years.

The NA could reach 60 mph (97 km/h) in 9.1 seconds and had a top speed of 116 mph (187 km/h). This first generation of Miata (often referred to as the NA) included a special edition in 1991, produced in British Racing Green with
the first use of tan interior.

1500 LE (Limited Edition) cars were produced in 1993. This model featured red leather interior, upgraded stereo, Nardi shift knob, leather wrapped steering wheel, cruise, limited slip differential, power windows, power mirrors,
power steering, air conditioning, BBS wheels, Bilstein shocks, front and rear spoilers, ABS brakes, stainless sill plates, and Harley style peanut tank door speaker trim. All 1993 LE cars came in black.

For the 1994 model year, the first-generation MX-5 was freshened with the introduction of the more powerful 1.8 L (110 cu in) BP-ZE engine, dual airbags and a limited slip differential in some markets. The chassis was substantially
braced to meet new side-impact standards, most visibly by adding a "track bar" between the seatbelt towers inside the car, but also to the front and rear subframes. Also, 1994 and 1995 were the only years in which Mazda offered a
light metallic blue paint (Laguna Blue Mica), making these cars rare collectors cars to some. 1994 also saw the introduction of the "R" package, a sport-themed package with Bilstein shocks and subtle underbody spoilers, in addition
to the removal of unnecessary items such as power steering. No body style changes were made, however.

The new 1.8 L (110 cu in) engine produced 98 kW (131 bhp), which was then increased to 99 kW (133 bhp) for the 1996 model year. The base weight increased to 990 kg (2,200 lb). Performance was improved slightly, the additional power
being partly offset by the extra weight. In some markets such as Europe, the 1.6 L (98 cu in) engine continued to be available as a lower-cost option, but was detuned to 66 kW (89 bhp). This lower-powered model did not receive all
the additional chassis bracing of the new 1.8 L (110 cu in). Japanese and US cars were fitted with an optional Torsen LSD, which was far more durable than the previous viscous differential.
The retractable headlamps of the NA (front car) were replaced by fixed headlamps on the NB (rear car).

There were a number of trim levels and special editions available, determined by local Mazda marketing departments. In the US, the base model was offered for US$13,995 at launch and was very basic, with manual windows, steel wheels,
and without A/C or power steering. The "A Package" offered power steering, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminum alloy wheels and cassette stereo. The "B Package" added power windows, along with cruise control and headrest
speakers, while the "C Package" included a tan interior and top and leather seats. The "R Package" was for racing, and the annual special editions were formalized as "M Editions". These included all of the luxury options from the
"C Package" as well as special paint and, sometimes, special wheels. In the UK, to celebrate Mazda's 24 hours of Le Mans win, Mazda brought out a special edition of the MX-5, with the winner's color scheme (see Mazda 787B) and came
equipped with BBR (Brodie Brittain Racing) turbo conversion; the car is one of the most sought after special edition cars of the MX-5s.

The first generation MX-5 was phased out with the 1997 model year (with the exception of 400 limited edition Berkeley models sold only in the UK in 1998 to mark the end of the NA), with the final 1500 NAs produced for the US market
being the "STO" ("Special Touring Option") versions.


GT5 Specs

 

Country
Japan
Production
Start
End
Cost
US$
Body Style
2 DR
4 DR
Hatch
Wagon
SUV
Seats #
Engine
Type
Displacement (cc)
Power (HP)
Matrix Power (HP)
Best
Stock
Stealth
Max
Torque
LB/FT
Stock
Stealth
Max
PowerPoints
Default
Minimum
Maximum
Stock
Stealth
Weight
Min
Max
Aspiration
Stock
Supercharger
Turbo
Drivetrain
FF
FR
MR
RR
AWD