Mazda MX-5 — The Choice of a Million Mazda Fans

By way of saying thank you, we take a look back over the history of this iconic model


In April 2016, production of the Mazda MX-5 (we call it the Mazda Roadster in Japan) reached one million units. We are very grateful for all the love and support this model has received since the first ever MX-5 rolled off the production line 27 years ago in April 1989.

What follows is brief summary of the model’s 27-year history. Consider it a small token of our appreciation.


Life is richer and more fun with an MX-5

Our aim with the Mazda MX-5 was simple: To share with as many people as possible a life made more brilliant through the pleasures of driving a compact open-top sports car.

We knew what it would take. The body had to be lightweight but still offer good safety performance. The engine had to be responsive and rev smoothly all the way to the top of its range. And the suspension had to draw every ounce of potential from the car.

During the development of the original MX-5, engineers settled on the phrase “Jinba-Ittai” (which means horse and rider as one) to express the type of fun-to-drive roadster they intended to build. The pursuit of Jinba-Ittai has defined every generation of the MX-5 since.

Under the hood of the 1st generation MX-5


■ Original MX-5 (NA)

Premiering at the Chicago Auto Show in February 1989, the original MX-5 went on sale in Japan the following September as the Eunos Roadster. Tipping the scales at a scant 940 kilograms, the NA truly deserved its “lightweight sports car” title and its instant popularity encouraged other automakers to also try their hand at developing open-top sports cars.  


■ 2nd generation MX-5 (NB)

The NB was renamed the Mazda Roadster when it went on sale in Japan in January 1998. The second generation saw a number of limited editions, including a high-performance turbocharged model and a coupe version. In 2000, the MX-5 was recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s best-selling convertible two-seater sports car.


■ 3rd generation MX-5 (NC)

The NC featured a 2.0-liter engine for the first time and launched in Japan in August 2005. A year later a retractable hardtop model was added to the lineup. It was designed to make the pleasures of open-top driving accessible to a wider audience and was a hit with fans around the world.


■ 4th generation MX-5 (ND)

The latest iteration of the MX-5, the 4th generation (ND) was unveiled in Japan at a fan event to celebrate the model’s 25th anniversary. Production of the model reached one million units almost exactly twenty-seven years after the first ever MX-5 rolled of the assembly line. 

World premiere of the ND at “Mazda Roadster THANKS DAY IN JAPAN”


In creating the Mazda MX-5 RF, the hardtop version of the 4th generation MX-5, Mazda stayed true to the hardtop’s aim of making open-top driving more accessible, but freed itself from traditional ways of thinking and took on new challenges in order to create something completely new.

The idea was to give the MX-5 RF gorgeous fastback styling with the roof closed, yet produce an exhilarating open-air feel with the top down.


Envisioning the future with two different MX-5s

While the 4th generation soft-top honed the pure driving pleasure of a lightweight sports car, the hardtop model, with its exquisite fastback styling and a new open-top feel, has a personality all its own. We hope the MX-5 RF will awaken hidden emotions and dormant sensibilities among our customers.

Now with two distinct MX-5 models, Mazda hopes to introduce the joy of convertible sports cars to a wider audience and help even more people live rich, fun-filled lives. In order to achieve this, the company will continue its efforts to “innovate in order to preserve.”

These photos are from the OASIS Roadster Meeting 2016, held on Japan’s Awajishima Island on May 8. Already one of the biggest gatherings of MX-5 enthusiasts in Western Japan, this year was the event’s most successful, with 700 MX-5s and their owners in attendance. Those who took part had the chance to sign their names on the commemorative one-millionth MX-5 and the smiles on their faces showed the depth of their passion for the car.