Ever since the 1950s, lightweight, front-engined, rear wheel drive sports cars have been an extremely popular choice for the discerning British motorist. UK manufacturers Lotus, MG and Triumph (amongst others) all used this formula successfully for a number of decades, and the public loved it. These cars sat low on the road, had punchy engines and great handling; it was everything people wanted from a sports car, but there was an issue, and it was a big one. Reliability. British cars unreliable? “Surely not!” I hear you cry. But unsurprisingly it’s true. Whilst it was all good and well packing your picnic, putting your hat and gloves on and going for a blast through the countryside, you could never be entirely sure that you’d make it home again (or even out of your driveway in the first place). It wasn’t until the late eighties that a solution was developed, and it came all the way from Japan in the form of the brand new Mazda MX-5. Mazda took all the ingredients that had made British sports cars so lusted after for decades, and wrapped them up in a solid, stable and most of all, dependable, shell. The MX-5 was born, and what a journey it had ahead of it.
Officially launched worldwide in 1989, badged as a ‘Eunos Roadster’ in Japan and the ‘Miata’ in the USA, it wasn’t until 1990 that it reached European shores. The Mk1 MX-5 (production code NA) was a hit here in the UK and had people flocking to their local Mazda showrooms. Sporty, reliable, and affordable – it was like Christmas had come early for those who had been toiling away for years trying to keep their Lotus Elans and MGBs going through the cold winter months. Suddenly here was a car that captured all of the British sports car experience with none of the pain.
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