February 10 2014 will be a landmark date in automotive history, as the Mazda MX-5 celebrates its 25th birthday. That’s right, everybody’s favourite two-seater roadster will be turning a quarter of a century old, and we’d like to start the celebrations early with a picture special to highlight how the sports car has evolved through the years.
The Mazda MX-5 was unveiled to the public in February 1989 at the Chicago motor show. It was available with either a 1.6 or 1.8-litre naturally aspirated engine, with power being sent to the back wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox. Weighing just 980kg, the 1.8-litre, 131bhp version reached 62mph from standstill in just 8.1sec and gained immediate widespread acclaim.
Exactly nine years later, the second generation Mazda MX-5 was released to the world with more power and styling influenced by the cult-classic RX-7. Gone were the pop-up headlights, while the car’s dimensions as a whole grew and a six-speed manual ‘box was introduced. A mid-life facelift in 2001 brought with it even sportier looks and further power increases for both engines.
Perhaps the most revolutionary evolution for the Mazda MX-5 was the third and current generation of the model. The roadster’s styling was completely overhauled to give a much sharper design, with the bonnet being accentuated by its long, swooping lines.
Most impressive was the MX-5’s new folding metal hard-top roof which folds elegantly into the rear of the car and was an immediate hit with motorists in the UK. The 2009 facelift is the model we know today.
Jota Mazda MX-5 GT
Initially a skunkworks concept, the Jota Mazda MX-5 GT was realised in late 2013 and certainly takes the prize as being the MX-5 with the most brawn in regards to its blend of power and looks. Armed with the current car’s 2.0 engine, Mazda’s race engineering team, Jota, have upped the power to 203bhp through substantial upgrades, but retains its core sports car credentials when it comes to dynamic handling.
BBR MX-5 Turbo
A cult-classic, the BBR MX-5 Turbo was a modified version of the first-generation car that was graced with 68 new parts from Brodie Britain Racing who are based in Brackley. Arguably, the single most important new part was the turbo that saw power increase to 150bhp. A newer package for the same generation car released in 2011 increased power to a massive 220bhp - the car achieving a 0-62mph time of just 5.5sec as a result.
900,000 and counting
The Mazda MX-5 broke the world-record for the best-selling two-seater sports car when it reached 531,890 units sold in 2000, but has since surpassed 900,000 sales and is rapidly on its way to cracking 1,000,000.
For an in-depth look at the Mazda MX-5’s history, take a look at our anniversary companion feature over at Simonscarspots.com.