Twenty years. Can you believe it's been two decades since we first heard the Japanese phrase Jinba ittai (meaning "rider and the horse are one")? To catch you up, way back in 1976, some Mazda engineers asked American auto journalist Bob Hall what they should build next. Mr Hall, who later wound up working for Mazda, mentioned the bugs-in-the-teeth British roadsters that every gearhead both loved and loathed. Their reputation as great driver's cars was only preceded by their rep for breaking down and stranding you on the side of the road.
If Mazda could engineer a tight, compact, great-handling roadster that didn't dump all its fluids every other Wednesday, they'd surely have a hit. Back at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show, the world met the MX-5, much, much better known as the Miata. Since then, nearly 1,000,000 Miatas have been built, with just under 400,000 of them getting snatched up by American consumers. In other words, the Miata gambit worked.
To commemorate twenty years of building such great sports cars, Mazda will be introducing a 20th Anniversary Limited Edition MX-5 Miata at next month's Geneva Motor Show. Pay special attention to the "Limited" part of the name, as only 2,000 anniversary cars will be built, and they'll only be available in Europe. One reason for the latter might be that the 20th Anniversary cars are based on the smaller displacement 1.8-liter car, a version of the Miata not sold in the States, or it could be that we may get our own commemorative edition to be announced at a later date.
Like most anniversary packages (see the big four-oh Nissan Z), nothing too exciting is happening to this Miata. There is, of course, the requisite numbered plaque. There's a chrome grille surround, chrome door-handles and chrome headlight surrounds. You also get "silver-look" fog light surrounds, plus special 17-inch wheels with "20th Anniversary" logos. The 20th Anniversary cars are available only in red, white or a new Aurora Blue, which we find rather sharp looking. And lest you think Mazda's not tossing a bone to performance enthusiasts, the car comes with a strut-tower brace.