In the late Eighties, European car makers said that there was no demand for affordable open-topped sports cars; we had GTi hot hatches instead. Mazda thought differently. But while the competition talked about bringing the concept back to reality, only the company from Hiroshima actually got on and did it.
The result, launched in the UK in 1990, was the MX-5 Miata (though the Miata name was not used here). It was a car conceived, designed and built by enthusiasts.
To say that the car has been successful is probably the understatement of the year. Close to half a million are on the roads world-wide and even in rainy Britain, annual sales are higher than ever.
Originally, the car was offered in just one form, with 1.6-litre power. In 1994, however, a more potent 1.8-litre version was added to the line-up, offered in standard and plusher S variants. Various special editions - including the SE, Gleneagles, Monaco, Merlot, Harvard, Monza and California were offered. In April 1998, the range was replaced by an all-new second generation version.