No car is perfect, but the first-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata comes close. There’s a reason pretty much every current Road & Track staffer owns or has owned one. For the money, it’s one of the most enjoyable cars on the planet, and a truly pure driving experience.
Thinking about buying an NA Miata of your own? Fantastic choice. Here’s how to pick the right one.
An Icon Is Born
In the late Eighties, Mazda set out to produce a sporty two-seat convertible aimed directly at the affordable performance segment. It had three initial designs: a front-engine front-wheel-drive car, a front-engine rear-wheel-drive car, and a mid-engine rear-wheel-drive car. In the end, executives chose the front-engine, rear-drive layout. The first production Miatas went on sale in 1989 as 1990 model-year cars after debuting at the Chicago Auto Show.
Early NA Miatas use a 1.6-liter naturally aspirated inline-four