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Did the car buying public abandon affordable lightweight open-topped sports cars, or did manufacturers abandon them? Either way, Mazda spotted a gap in the market and in 1989 released the MX5.

The concept for this car is rumored to have grown from a conversation that automotive journalist Bob Hall had with Kenichi Yamamoto, the managing director of Mazda in spring 1979. Two years later when Bob Hall joined Mazda's product planning department, the MX5 took one step closer to production. Mazda North America (MANA) soon went to work producing several designs, meanwhile Mazda's Tokyo design studio was producing designs of it's own.

In April 1984 the design sketches were presented to head office, at this stage the Tokyo mid-engined coupe design looked more promising, but MANA didn't give up. In August of the same year, the teams met again at Hiroshima to compare full sized clay models. This time there was no contest and MANA's two seater rear wheel drive design was selected.

A British company, International Automotive Designs (IAD) were charged with the task of building a working prototype. This was completed by August 1985 and the plan was to ship it straight to Japan for review in marketing clinics, but Masataka Matsui, head of the Testing and Research division had other ideas. Instead the car was taken to Santa Barbara, California where it could be viewed by potential buyers in it's main target marketplace. The car was an immediate hit and in the words of one of the engineers "we had people chasing us down the street asking us who made the car". The car's future was assured and in January 1986 the project was given the official go-ahead.

At this point serious consideration was given as to how the car should be built. A crucial decision had to be made , whether to build the car on an existing floor plan or to start from scatch and build a new one. Mazda decided that it had the opportunity to build exactly the car it wanted and that there was no point in building it, if they didn't build it right. The attention to detail and the amount of effort put in by the teams was astounding. For example Toshihiko Hirai the Product Program Manager made an audio tape of his favourite car exhaust notes and played it over and over until he had decided on exactly the right sound. Meanwhile, back in California, Rod Bymaster was searching for a name for this new car. Finally one day he came across the word 'Meed' in the dictionary which was derived from the old German word Miata meaning 'Reward'. The name stuck and the MX5 was badged the 'Miata' in North America.

In August 1988 the car was presented to a select group of car magazine editors at the Mazda test track in Miyoshi. They loved the car, but were sworn to secrecy. The first spy pictures appeared in 'Autoweek' in November 1988 and in June 1989 Mazda held a press conference to announce the launch of their new light-weight sports car. Since then the MX5, has collected awards, rave reviews and a place on the short list for car of the century. The rest, as they say, is History......

Kyosho Mazda MX 5 (with optional hardtop )
 

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A great read ARV6!!! I just love MX5s, they are super fun to drive and not too expensive all at the same time! My wife had a 1993 silver Eunos Roadster (the Japanese market version of the car-lots of them are in Ireland now as far more were imported second hand than there were MX5s sold new here! Japan is RHD like the UK and Ireland which is very handy!) which differed from the Euro market MX5 mainly in the fact that it had A/C and electric windows. It also had speakers in the headrests.

I had so much fun driving that car as did she! We sold it after only a year as Eleanor was pregnant with our son and we needed a more practical car unfortunately. Otherwise we would quite likely still have it!!! :cheers
 

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Thanks for the info, AR_V6!

You can definitely tell the Miata was one of Kyosho's earlier efforts.
 

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Interesting story!
Never knew how this car came about :confused :nicejob

I bought the Gate version for my buddy since he has a 1:1 and its a pretty nice model :happy
 
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