For its birthday, it hasn't been profiled on 60 Minutes or been to Jay Leno's Garage, and it isn't going on a retrospective tour of vintage racetracks or getting a special Spyder Zagato edition. That doesn't mean we think any less of the Mazda MX-5 Miata, the roadster with a simplicity that was as enjoyable as it was barely believable when it arrived in 1989. A quarter of a century and three generations later, the Miata remains the go-to roadster when you want easy, balanced and economical thrills.

It grew from a 116-horsepower speedster with a five-speed manual transmission and a curb weight of 2,116 pounds, to a 167-hp go-kart with a five-speed manual coming in at 2,480 pounds (in Sport guise). Along the way it's picked up hundreds of awards, including 14 nods on Car and Driver's "10Best" list, its most recent eight-year streak coming to an end last year, the Guinness Book of World Records title as "Best-Selling Two-Seater Sports Car" and innumerable trophies as weekend racer extraordinaire.

We'll see the fourth generation at next year's Chicago Auto Show, and we're certain to hear more about its 25-year milestone this year. Until that happens, enjoy the images above and the gallery and press release below, as well as a just-announced special Mazda microsite.
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- Celebrate the World's Best-Selling Two-Seat Roadster on Twitter with hashtag #MX5Turns25 -

CHICAGO, Feb. 7, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- On February 9, 1989, the world was introduced to the all-new Mazda MX-5 Miata at the Chicago Auto Show. A few months later, it was named as one of the five "World's Best Cars" by Road & Track and never looked back.

Twenty-five years later, MX-5 has racked up more than 200 awards and sold more than 920,000 worldwide as of December 2013, making it the Guinness Book of World Records holder for "Best-Selling Two-Seater Sports Car." Adding to these great achievements, more MX-5s are road-raced on any given weekend than any other model of car.

"The MX-5 Miata has hit a number of milestones over the years and we're honored to say that 25 years later it's as much a global success and favorite among enthusiasts as it was on day one," said Jim O'Sullivan, president and CEO, Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). "At the Chicago Auto Show in 1989, MX-5 Miata set the bar for sports car performance and driving pleasure. Here we are on its 25th birthday still looking up at that bar."

MX-5's success is that it has not strayed from its promise to deliver pure driving enjoyment at an attainable price. Its introduction in 1989 revived the two-seat roadster segment, and it went on to be named to Road & Track's "World's Best Cars" list and was 14-times one of Car and Driver's "10Best".

Enthusiasts are encouraged to wish the MX-5 Miata a happy birthday on Twitter using the hashtag #MX5Turns25.

25 Years of Greatness – A Look Back
Launched in May 1989 with a starting price of $13,800 MSRP, the first-generation MX-5 Miata featured a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 116 horsepower and 100 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual transmission was standard, but a four-speed automatic was available as an option. Suspension was by independent double wishbone on all four wheels, and braking consisted of four wheel-disc brakes with the front ventilated. The engineering team created a three-fold, easy-to-operate soft top with one-hand operation that was lightweight and offered superior weather protection, and is still the model of simplicity in today's roadsters. All together, the MX-5 Miata weighed a low 2,116 pounds curb weight and could reach 60 mph in less than nine seconds.

The second-generation MX-5 Miata debuted in 1998 as a 1999 model year, offering a more powerful 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with 140 horsepower and 119 lb-ft of torque, and new styling that was most obvious in the front as the first generation car's distinctive pop-up headlights were replaced with a faired-in design. In addition, the plastic rear window in the MX-5's soft top was replaced with a heated glass window. Features such as a straight intake port, a variable-inertia exhaust system and a dual exhaust manifold were incorporated to aid the sporty feel. The base model could reach 60 mph in 7.9 seconds, with a top speed of 122 mph.

A special limited edition model was introduced in 1999 to celebrate MX-5's 10-year anniversary. This model ramped up performance by use of a new six-speed manual transmission, Torsen® limited-slip differential and sport-tuned suspension with Bilstein® shock absorbers. A special Sapphire Blue Mica paint with blue soft top also was offered on the special edition model.

In 2005, the third generation MX-5 was introduced with a new 16-valve, 2.0-liter MZR I-4 engine, producing 170 horsepower and 140 lb-ft of torque, coupled to either a five-speed or a six-speed manual transmission or 166 horsepower with the optional six-speed automatic transmission. Every component on the car was either all-new or extensively revised, with the only part shared with the earlier generations being the side-repeater turn signal lamp on non-U.S. models. A front wishbone/rear multilink suspension was used beginning with the 2006 MX-5 to increase ride quality and handling. Technologies like traction control and stability control also were added.

Mazda North American Operations is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States and Mexico through more than 700 dealers. Operations in Mexico are managed by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.

SOURCE Mazda North American Operations

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      Just picked up a 1990 NA "B" this summer with40k miles on it. Had to see what all this hubbub was about. And I must say...fantastic little car!
      • 1 Year Ago
      You know, it's cars like these that show how different Mazda is compared to the other Japanese auto makers. They know good handling and fun to drive, and they know to make it affordable. More details on the powertrain of the next MX-5 please.
        • 1 Year Ago
        While I generally agree I was a bit disappointed by the new Mazda 3 lately. The steering felt artificial. I hope the new Miata doesn't get an electronical steering!
      • 1 Year Ago
      Congrats to 25 years! With the new MX-5 just around the corner, and with Mazda's technical renaissance in full swing, thanks to its SkyActiv philosophy, the next-gen is going to be phenomenal.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Have owned three of them. Wish it was not -17C and snow covered. I would love to bring mine out to celebrate.
        • 1 Year Ago
        Yeah, can't wait for better weather here as well. Mine is locked away safely
      • 1 Year Ago
      Keep it small, keep it light. Just say no to super sizing.
      • 1 Year Ago
      can they please celebrate properly by releasing the new model already. Its been 8+ years now.
        Travis C. Vasconcelo
        If it ain't broke, don't fix it! The first generation lasted 10 years…so 8 is nothing!
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Travis C. Vasconcelo
          A lot has changed in 8 years, but as great as the MX-5 is; it's still a very low volume car for Mazda. Its probably not very cost effective to have a short cycle life for it. I'm just glad that they are still producing it.
      Joxer The Mighty
      • 1 Year Ago - so I guess you can remove the Jay Leno's garage bit?
      • 1 Year Ago
      Happy Birthday, Miata. To celebrate, I'll take my red '91 (with '94 1.8L engine) out for a top-down spin in the Florida sun today. Nothing like a drive down the beach in my "Mazda-rati." Congratulations, Mazda, for bringing the affordable sports car back to life.
      Travis C. Vasconcelo
      What can I say about the Miata? I own one. I love my car. It is great. But all of that is clique. THe thing is you have to experience the Miata to understand. Words just don't do its greatness justice. I remember the first one I sat in. It was at an auto show. I said "this thing is too small, i can barely get in and out of it". To know what a Miata is you have to drive it. 3 years ago I had opportunity to drive one. With in an hour, it was mine. I have a 96 NA base. Sure it is hard to get a corpulent American physique in and out of it. But what happens once you are inside is worth the whole thing! This is more than a car or for that matter a mere appliance. A Miata becomes an extension of yourself as it motors down the road. You find yourself driving different in a Miata. You are looking at the road ahead with a different and more exciting prospective. 25 years ago Mazda did more than release a car…the released a new phenomenon in driving artistically linked to the sports cars of yesteryear with modern reliability and durability. Thanks Mazda…you have made my last 3 years so much more fun. I look forward to many more years to come with my little machine!
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Travis C. Vasconcelo
        couldn't have said it better myself. buying my NB 2 years ago was the best decision I ever made.
      • 1 Year Ago
      How about Mazda celebrate the new Miata by showing it to us?
      • 1 Year Ago
      Drove my '04 Mazdaspeed to work today to celebrate. Happy birthday Mazda, I'll see you at Laguna Seca in September to celebrate at the Miatas at MRLS event.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I never planned on owning a Miata, so I never cared to drive one. The first time I finally did drive a Miata was at a track day. HOLY SH!t, that was the most fun I'd ever had driving a car!! Suddenly my twin turbo SC300 wasn't as enjoyable as I thought, as well as the 15+ other cars that came before it! When my girlfriend needed a commuter car, I convinced her that an '05 Mazdaspeed Miata made sense and we got one. Unfortunately the small size scared her out of it and I got stuck with it after she joined a vanpool. I can honestly say that the '05 MSM is the most fun car I've owned. Every little trip feels like a track day experience. I pity some of the dipsh!ts here that think it's a "girls" or "gay" car. Apparently nobody ever told them that girls and gays can (and do) drive whatever they want. And these fools never got the memo that the Miata is the most tracked car EVER!! Grow a set and get over yourselves. You might actually enjoy life if you do! Happy 25th Miata!
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