There are many flavors of the world's favorite roadster to choose from.
With over 30 years of history under its belt, the Mazda MX-5 Miata can legitimately claim to be the people's roadster. There are clubs and groups dedicated to owning, maintaining, road-tripping, and racing MX-5s, but it's also popular with the mainstream. It's the quintessential affordable weekend sports car and a useful little commuter for those that want to enjoy it all week long. The MX-5's long history also means a long line of special editions ranging from dealer-added graphics to full-on factory performance specials, and everything in between. Mazda isn't afraid of spamming special editions, mainly aesthetic only enhancements aimed at particular countries, though. That means some special editions are more special than others, and these are our favorites.
In 2019, Mazda celebrated its 30th anniversary in style. Only 3,000 units were built for worldwide distribution, and the US got 500 of them. It came only in the freshly developed Racing Orange and had a plethora of upgrades along with unique tuning. The lightweight forged aluminum wheels were developed especially for the anniversary edition by Mazda and RAYS Wheels. Other performance upgrades included a Brembo brake system and Bilstein dampers on manual transmission models. In the cockpit, the driver and passenger sit in exclusive seats developed with Recaro and can listen to a Bose sound system. Mazda doesn't often mess with engines for the MX-5, so it came with the standard 184-hp four-cylinder engine.
The Mazdaspeed Miata, aka the Roadster Turbo in Japan, aka the MX-5 SE in Australia, is a rarity because it came from the factory with a turbocharger fitted. It was also the last special edition for the second-generation MX-5, with around 5,500 built from 2004 to 2005. The Mazdaspeed Miata was highly sought after for its factory-fitted turbocharger, but it also came with an aero kit, 17-inch wheels, Mazdaspeed suspension with Bilstein shocks, and an uprated clutch and driveshafts. With the turbocharger fitted, the 140-hp engine was bumped up to 178 hp and got a little extra dose of torque.
The 2002 Special Edition Miata was the first special to come in two colors, Titanium Gray or Blazing Yellow. Mazda built 1,250 units in total, and they both shared the same wheels, white-faced gauges with chrome surrounds, a Nardi steering wheel, and a Bose sound system. For performance, the drivetrain featured a Torsen LSD. The difference between the two, other than exterior color, was the interior colors. The gray car came with brown leather, and the yellow car featured black leather.
While Porsche will charge you to remove standard equipment, Mazda did the exact opposite in 2003. The Miata was popular in SCCA Club Racing, so the Club Sport was designed to take all of the time and some of the cost out of prepping a car to race. A total of 50 were built, split equally between hardtops and soft tops. However, they all came without equipment such as air conditioning, audio, speakers, and power steering. Mazda also enforced the $19,995 sticker price so dealers couldn't price gauge based on the rarity. Speaking of scarcity, you're more likely to see a McLaren F1 up close than one of these.
The MX-5 entered its fourth generation of production as a 2016 model, and the Club Edition arrived complete with Bilstein shocks, shock tower bracing, a limited-slip differential, an aero kit, and a Bose sound system. Optional were BBS wheels and Brembo brakes, but, with or without them, that MX-5 had returned to its roots as a dynamic, sharp, and lightweight sports car. Power from the four-cylinder engine was only 155 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque, but it weighed a feather-like 2,313 lbs.
In 2003, Mazda introduced an MX-5 Coupe to Japan. It was only available with the base 1.6-liter engine making 158 hp, and the roof added some weight. However, none of that matters because it was a coupe. If you're wondering why that's a good thing, consider that an actual roof adds structural rigidity to help with handling and improved storage space behind the seats. Anyone that's attempted a road trip in an MX-5 knows the value of that. There is no hard number on how many were made in total, but it was likely somewhere between 500 and 1,000.
Brodie Britain Racing now independently supplies aftermarket fitment of turbochargers and other performance parts to MX-5s, but, back in 1990, the company was responsible for the dealer order turbo kit for the Mazda MX-5 BBR Turbo model. In 1991, the company also supplied the forced induction for the 1991 Mazda MX-5 Le Mans edition. It celebrates Mazda's overall victory at the 1991 Le Mans 24 Hour with the little MX-5 sporting the livery echoing the 787B racer's war paint to go with the 1.6-liter engine's uprated 152 hp, Tokico springs and dampers, and OZ wheels. Each model also came with a certificate signed by Mazda's winning Le Mans driver Johnny Herbert, and only 24 were built.
The GT Jota initially showed itself at the 2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed as a concept. However, there was enough interest that a run of models was built and sold through a single Mazda dealer in the UK. Techs at the Jota racing company managed to add an extra 46 hp and 21 lb-ft of torque for a total of 205 hp and 160 lb-ft. It also came with revised suspension, Recaro sports seats, and meatier sound from the exhaust, and, because Mazda authorized it, owners got a full warranty, and it could be serviced at any Mazda dealer.
This isn't a roadster set on defending gun rights in America, but a Japanese market only version of the MX-5 designed to meet specifications for NR-A category "Roadster Party" One Make Races in Japan. From the factory in 2001, the MX-5 NR-A came with height-adjustable Bilstein dampers, larger brake rotors, a torque-sensing limited-slip differential, and front strut tower braces, aluminum gas/brake/clutch pedals, and standard 16-inch steel wheels.
In 2015, the latest generation MX-5 got a road-legal NR-A makeover with virtually the same upgrades as above plus a larger radiator to help the engine cope with the demands of racing. There was also a version available for those that wanted it just for the road. The Roadster RS trim added Alcantara trim, Nappa leather Recaro seats, and a 9-speaker Bose sound system. It also, literally, piped-in sound from the engine intake to the cockpit to enhance the aural experience.