1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Cars can’t have biological parents, but it’s safe to say that Bob Hall is as close to being the father of the Mazda MX-5 Miata as a person can get. As an employee of Mazda’s American R&D department, Hall virtually single-handedly promoted the idea of a classically British sportscar to the Japanese company, appealing to their history of producing excellent sportscars. With the help of several sympathetic employees both stateside and in Japan, Hall got his wish, and Mazda approved production of the kind of car Hall wanted—a rear-drive, two-seat convertible with a peppy conventional inline piston engine (rather than the Wankel rotary that Mazda used in its higher-end RX-7). Devoid of the heavy gadgetry and gimmicks of sportscars of the time, the Miata debuted as an instant hit, and has gone on to be far and above the highest selling two-seat convertible ever produced. By 1994, the Miata received several upgrades, including better chassis bracing, an available limited-slip differential, and a new 1.8-liter DOHC engine. What didn’t change is the Mazda’s fun-to-drive factor, which recalls the classic roadster while providing a modern driving experience. The MX-5 Miata is also the foundation of a popular one-make series, Spec Miata, and a quick drive in the tiny but nimble Mazda will make it clear why it’s a favorite of drivers everywhere.

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