• May 27th 2009 at 8:32AM
  • 44
Mazda MX-5's 20th Anniversary at LeMans - Click above for a high-res image gallery

It's hard to believe it's been two decades since Mazda first showed the world how to build a classic British sports car right. The roadster known as the Miata and MX-5 at different times and places around the world is 20 years old and to celebrate, Mazda has invited 200 examples and their owners from across Europe to a party in France next month at the 24 Hours of LeMans.

Over the course of two decades and three generations, Mazda has sold over 850,000 MX-5s and it remains one of the most entertaining roadsters available. While it's never been the most powerful sports car and some dismiss it as a secretary's chosen chariot, the compact, lightweight roadster has won over even the most insecure alpha males with taut handling, a balanced drivetrain and one of the simplest convertible mechanisms known to man.

European MX-5 owners who want to participate in the party should contact their national MX-5 club or Mazda France. The 200 attendees will watch the race from the Mazda camp alongside the circuit and a best in show will be awarded, along with plenty of goodies.


Roadster Enthusiasts to celebrate 20 Years of Mazda MX-5 at Le Mans

  • 200 Mazda MX-5s from all over Europe to gather at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans
  • Special Mazda Camp reserved for attendees near the circuit
  • An award for the most beautiful MX-5 attending the event

Leverkusen, 25 May 2009. This year, the world's most legendary endurance race will be venue for the 20th anniversary celebration of the world's most loved roadster: the Mazda MX-5. First shown at the Chicago Motor Show in February 1989, the original Mazda MX-5 (called Miata at the time) triggered a rebirth of the two-seat roadster. Then as now, the car embodies Jinba Ittai (a Japanese expression meaning "rider and horse as one") and delivers the very essence of sports car fun. This has been perpetuated by subsequent Mazda designers of three generations of MX-5 since then, earning it a place in the Guinness Book of World Records with more than 850,000 units sold to date.

A total of 200 MX-5s from all over Europe will meet at the 24 Hours of Le Mans to commemorate 20 years of Mazda's cult roadster, and the special relationship it has with thousands of fans worldwide. The event has been organised in cooperation with MX-5 clubs around Europe and will take place on 13 and 14 June this year.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans – the perfect venue to thrill Mazda enthusiasts
Mazda MX-5 owners and fans wishing to be part of this exciting event are requested to contact their national MX-5 club or visit the Mazda France website HYPERLINK "http://www.mazda.fr" www.mazda.fr. A complete package is on offer for attendees, including a place for their car, an anniversary polo shirt, a rally plate, dinner and breakfast and some other surprises; all from 100 Euros. It also includes a unique chance to experience the thrill of watching the 24 Hours of Le Mans race live, since the participants will be invited to camp at an exclusive Mazda Camp reserved for them bordering the circuit. From here Mazda MX-5 fans will have the opportunity to show their support to the 3 teams motorized by Mazda engines in the LMP2 category. A "Best of Show" competition will also be held during the event with a special award going to the most beautiful MX-5.

Endurance – a field of expertise for Mazda
Mazda wrote motor sport history by winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 23 June 1991 with the Mazda 787B piloted by Johnny Herbert, Volker Weidler and Bertrand Gachot. This was the first victory ever by a Japanese manufacturer and also the first for a rotary engine at Le Mans – a double success still unrivalled today. The high-performance Mazda 787B displayed the superior reliability of Mazda rotary-engine technology that day, and was subsequently entered in the Hall of Fame of motor racing.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      With the SolsticeSky soon to be killed,the Miata will have the market to itself.
        • 6 Years Ago

        "Solstice/SKY has outsold the MX-5 every year of production"

        Perhaps only taking into account NA, but the SKY (as an Opel) has been a failure in Europe, and isn't sold at all in Japan or Australiasia, so I find that very hard to believe.
        • 6 Years Ago
        # MoustacheRide

        The S2000 is also going to be killed shortly.
        • 6 Years Ago
        nope, s2000 is still around.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @ Dude

        Yeah, Obama had Pontiac killed. He also had the UFO moved from Area 51 to Disneyland.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Did the Sky/Solstice or S2000 ever really threaten the MX-5? I don't think those cars ever had the numbers, success or accolades to compare with the little Mazda.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @ Alex
        The Solstice/SKY has outsold the MX-5 every year of production.

        Too bad Obama had Pontiac killed off. The competition between the two cars would have been great to watch over the years.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Happy Birthday.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The MX-5/Miata: the true British roadster. It is truly a joy to drive.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I have owned and driven a true British roadster ( 1963 Triumph TR4 ) and an Mx5. Both fun, but you smelled like hot oil and gasoline after a drive in the TR which I thought was pretty cool. It's not just the driving experience, but also the ownership experience. Ask anyone who has owned old British cars.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I worked for Foote, Cone & Belding advertising in Santa Ana in 1989. It was the agency for Mazda from their arrival in the U.S. until the early 90s. I was part of the launch team for the Miata (as it was called at the time), and ended up writing some great TV and print ads for the car. A spectacular vehicle that provided all the inspiration any ad guy could want. Got to drive one of the 1st PP versions ever to roll on our shores. It was gumball blue. Couldn't say much for the color, but everything else about the car was perfect. Top-down on PCH for the weekend? Doesn't get much better. Many happy returns, Miata.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Miata/MX-5 dynamically incorporates just about everything I love in a car. Excellent handling, great steering feedback, modest-yet-adequate power, and light weight. Too bad I really don't care much for convertibles. I wish there were a fastback or hatchback version of the Miata-- then I'd be sold.

      No, the PRHT isn't the solution. And yes, the Mazda3 is a nice little ride, but it's unfortunately wrong-wheel-drive.
        • 6 Years Ago
        a shooting brake mazda... now theres an idea whos time needs to come. Come on Mazda... make something brazenly interesting and WTF worthy! Nothing screams WTF like a practical miata!
      • 6 Years Ago
      And as with all things, 20 years later, the little Mazda has packed on some weight. Just like that cheerleader you saw at your high school reunion.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Packed weight? Wasn't it weighting less than the old one yet... Oh screw you.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Never said I wouldn't still take her for a ride. ;-)
        • 6 Years Ago
        It's just muscle mass anyway :-)

        Happy 20th, MX-5. I'm on my second and have yet to encounter a car that's more fun to drive.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Way to go, MX-5. Don't ever change the formula.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I would have rather seen them celebrate this with a mazdaspeed version with either the 2.3 turbo or the wankel from the rx-8...
      • 6 Years Ago
      Wake me when Mazda passes through this "Grinning Idiot" styling phase they are stuck in right now.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I love my Miata ... I bought a pristine 96 R-Package Miata last year after having looked at them for years, I was always hesitant to drop 5k on a Miata ... figured it would bore me and it wouldn't be as much fun as my Subaru STi.

      Not the case, I think it is one of the best purchase decisions I have ever made, my Miata is so much fun to drive. Sure I can't out-accelerate a mini-van but I am smiling the whole time! Plus I take it to the track 10-15 days a year.

      My neighbors think I am crazy because I spend so much time taking care of the car - always up on it's maintenance, but I really hope it lasts for a long time.

      I wish Mazda would offer special edition 20th anniversary Miata and do something really interesting and unique with it (make it a coupe!)

      *Happy 20th Birthday, Miata!*
        • 6 Years Ago
        I had a '97 (sport package I think?)... sure it was slow.

        Then a year later put on an Autorotor, dyno'ed 180 rwhp. That was nice.

        Then another year later put on a FMII turbo, dyno'ed 250 rwhp. That was nicer. one of those portable G-dyno thingies said 4.5 seconds to 60. Got 13.6 at a dragstrip my first time out with atrocious 60 ft times, by all accounts should have been in the high 12s at the very least. A bit quicker than your average mini-van.

        Went that way for another 2.5 years until I sold the whole thing and 'grew up' purchasing a '95 Dinan M3 w/ 300 rwhp. I dunno, the Miata was quite a bit more visceral and I still miss it dearly.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I didn't realize Mazda is supplying engines in LMP-2. Who's making the chassis for that LMP car in the background?
        • 6 Years Ago
        There is one more Mazda powered car on the grid (that I know of), Kruse Schiller Motorsport and they use Lola LMP2 chassis.


        Happy anniversary.
        MX-5 - perfect car. Le Mans - perfect venue.

        Mazda is so far the only Japanese manufacturer that won at Le Mans - in 1991. It's also the only victory for a non-piston powered car. Rotary engines were banned next year....
      • 6 Years Ago
      Putting on only about 300 lbs over 3 generations isn't unforgiveable. Especially given that you can still operate the top with one hand, still flick the tail at will and given that it still weighs less than 2500 lbs. Still an appreciatable car.
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