By on January 10, 2012

Here’s another SEMA refugee: the Mazda MX-5 “Spyder”. The current Miata’s choice of normal fabric roof or what-the-f***-are-you-thinking power retractable hardtop is neatly avoided in favor of the kind of stretchy, do-it-yourself job that ensures Porsche 911 “Speedster” owners never actually drive their cars anywhere.

We’ve seen a better Miata Spyder, though… click the jump for a blast into the wacky kit-car past.

This is the Simpson Design Italia. In the metal, it’s a very pretty combination of first-gen Miata and NART Spyder. Simpson makes a variety of Miata kits. Check it. Which leads to the question: If a guy in a shed can make the Miata pretty, why can’t Mazda do it?

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27 Comments on “NAIAS Tidbits: Mazda MX-5 Spyder...”


  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    what doesn’t make sense on a porsche also doesn’t make sense on a mazda

    if you’re gonna copy, why copy stupidity?

  • avatar
    AKADriver

    “what-the-f***-are-you-thinking power retractable hardtop”

    I thought I was the only one. Look: if my crappy, self-installed budget soft top could survive having two feet of snow stacked on it, you don’t need a PRHT.

    For what it’s worth if someone really wants a “Miata speedster”, there is an outfit that produces a bikini top for the NA/NB. An aftermarket roll bar is required to act as the central rib of the top, but other than that it latches to the stock detachable hardtop points.

    http://www.projectgla.com/gstring_na.html

    • 0 avatar

      The people who bought the original car in 1990 are now at the age where a PRHT is appealing. My Dad is now closer to 60 than 40, and for a guy like him, who would drive the car year round in snow and crappy, cold conditions, he much prefers it to my 1997 with the soft top, and his worn out knees would rather not have to drag a hard top to and from the basement (no garage at home)

      • 0 avatar
        Disaster

        The PHRT is a death trap for side impact…at least if you are taller than 5 foot 10. I’m 6 foot and the solid steel frame that operates the PHRT mechanism is 6 inches from my temple. I can’t imagine any air bag could fill in time to stop my head from clubbing it.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex French

      Wow, that looks great. I didn’t think I would like it at all.

  • avatar
    redliner

    Not to be “that guy,” but I find all the Simpson Designes to be less than pleasing, to my eye anyways. But then again, I never thought the Miata (err, MX-5) was a bad looking car.

    • 0 avatar
      Feds

      Agreed. Those kits are all kinds of not doing it for me.

      The Miata on the other hand, while I’ve officially moved up from “used Miata” to “used Z3”, that second photo gives me an overwhelming urge to tickle it under the chin while saying “Ooo’s a goood me yah tah? You are! Yes you ARE!”

    • 0 avatar
      Mullholland

      Jack, your post is based on a faulty premise and the embedded link proves it. Your “guy in the shed” can’t make the Miata pretty. I had a look.
      Perhaps your time would be better used by thrashing about to find the proverbial guy in the shed who can make Venus pretty.

  • avatar
    skidaniel

    Curious about the PRHT and why it’s a bad idea…

    My understanding is that it quiets the ride significantly and eliminates that old “mustang roof” feel of soft tops, and doesn’t tangibly impact performance due to weight.

    What do you guys think, any NC MX-5 owners have an opinion on this?

  • avatar
    skidaniel

    This also seems to substantiate owners prefer PRHT

    http://forum.miata.net/vb/showthread.php?t=445245

  • avatar
    Jack Baruth

    From a business perspective, it makes sense for Mazda to offer, but it’s yet another nail in the coffin of the original jinba ittai/cheap and simple Miata concept.

    • 0 avatar
      skidaniel

      True on the Jinba ittai front. I went to the mx-5 launch about 6 years ago at one of the Mazda ‘race days’ and remember them focusing on that. PRHT is somewhat similar to the Cayenne funding 911 development; might not be 100% on-brand but it does generate profit that can be rolled back into r&d for the low volume purist rides.

  • avatar
    niky

    The hardtop is a luxury, but it’s not too big a compromise. The PRHT doesn’t weigh all that much more than the non-PRHT car… maybe an additional hundred pounds… but that’s not all that much on a 2,400 lb car, and the hardtop adds a whole lot of noise insulation, protection (from theft and vandalism) and a little bit of stiffness to the car. While it’s not the night-and-day difference that putting on your NA’s hardtop was, the car is still noticeably sharper and firmer with the top in place.

    The important thing is, despite it being a bit heavier, the PRHT still drives exactly like a Miata.

    Now if we’re talking about straying from jinba ettai, let’s talk about that two tonne CX-9…

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Next stop: Secret basement garage oblivion in Mazda’s N.A. H.Q.?

  • avatar
    Disaster

    Most people will be disappointed with anything from Mazda that is less than a new design. The MX5 is overdue for one.

    • 0 avatar
      JCraig

      Well the next generation is supposed to go back to its roots, smaller, cheaper and much lighter.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Thank god, that extra 1.9 inches of length and .8 inches of height was really starting to piss me off. Lower weight, maybe, with high strength steel and aluminum. Lower price? Doubt it, the price is already amazing for a lower volume rear wheel drive convertible, and, as I point out below, lower when adjusted for inflation than it was in 1990.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    The power retractable hard top adds 113 pounds to the weight, but makes the car noticeably more solid with the top up (yes, so does the removable top, but that can’t be added, away from home, with the push of a button).

    The other cons are that it takes another inch away from the headroom in a car that already does not have enough headroom (the legroom on the driver’s side of the NC actually is pretty good, but there is an intrusive hump on the passenger side), and that, in my experience, the PHRT actually is noisier with the top up than the soft top, because the hard plastic liner that Mazda uses reflects noise more than the fabric liner of the soft top.

    The implementation of the PHRT on the NC is not perfect, but in the long run the retractable hardtop haters are luddites. A well designed retractable hardtop will add insignificant weight while offering potential huge benefits in durability, security, top up rigidity and top up NVH.

    Here are some facts, for all of the hipsters that think the Miata has become some overpriced bloated “sell-out.”

    1990 base Miata: 2,182 pounds

    1997 base Miata: 2,359 pounds

    2002 base Miata: 2,387 pounds

    2004 Miata MAZDASPEED: 2,529 pounds

    2011 Miata Sport: 2,447 pounds

    2011 Miata Touring PHRT: 2,480 pounds

    2011 Miata Touring PHRT: 2,593 pounds

    2011 base Porsche Boxster (5-speed manual, with the weight advantage of an integrated transmission and differential, and no driveshaft): 2,893 pounds (94 pounds more for an S with more power and a 6-speed manual)

    Mazda is doing pretty well, since the NC2 only weighs 121 pounds more than the structurally reinforced, 1.8 liter NA2, and 413 pounds less than a Boxster.

    The PHRT adds 113 pounds to the Touring model (which weighs 33 pounds more than the Sport, probably mostly because of the 6 speed vs. 5 speed) – not nothing, but not exactly WTF territory either.

    As for price:

    1990 base Miata: $13,800 (adjusted to 2011 dollars = $23,886.56)

    2011 Miata Sport: $23,110

    2011 base Porsche Boxster (just for laughs – significantly less quality, even if IMS is resolved): $48,100

    For $776.56 LESS inflation adjusted dollars one gets 51 more horsepower, air conditioning, power windows and locks, a much better stereo, passenger and side airbags, antilock brakes, a leather steering wheel (hey, it’s nice) and an overall more solid, better driving car.

    • 0 avatar
      Morea

      2011 base Boxster: 255 hp
      2011 Miata Sport: 167 hp

      With extra hp comes the need for extra unibody stiffness and, thus, extra weight.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        On the other hand being mid-engine should allow for less weight, since the body does not have to handle the driveline twist from a front engine to a rear differential.

        I’m not saying the Boxster is a pig, I’m just saying the Miata is 413 pounds less than the next lightest convertible sports car on the market.

  • avatar
    Morea

    How does the new roof effect roll bar placement? I have been told by MX-5 owners who track their cars that you can get a roll bar under the soft tops of early cars but not the later ones. (A real roll bar, not the roll hoops.) Seems like the PHRT will not improve the situation.

  • avatar
    jeanpierresarti

    I have thought for a long time Mazda made a huge blunder by not making a true hard top Miata. Hell, MG came out with a coupe for their quintessential roadster!

    Some how I hate convertibles. I have driven many over the years to see if I would ever accept them. Just never could get used to driving with all that road noise and wind and unfortunately I live in a part of the country where there are not any “winding back roads” to even enjoy the convertible. So for me the appeal of a Miata is the small RWD lightweight fun to drive and cheap to maintain issue and nothing about the stupid convertible appeals to me.

    The PRHT kinda of made me like the Miata but having driven it I was not all that impressed.

    The Toyobaru basically has made me never to look twice at a Miata…sorry Mazda but you blew it.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Wow, those Simpson designs are really nice!

  • avatar

    Miata kits are for people who like kits, or who are more interested in making their Miatas look like something different or something more expensive, which often makes the cars look cheaper and kills their resale. Nonetheless, if a kit trips your trigger, go for it.

    Likewise, the power hardtop is for people who want a power hardtop. People who want a new Miata without a power hardtop still have that option.

    I encourage people who don’t want a Miata, a kit, a convertible or a power hardtop to pursue their automotive dreams through other, more accomodating venues.

    I wish I could carry my Co-Motion tandem in the trunk of my 1996 Miata, but I’d have a hard time saying Mazda made a mistake by designing the car the way they did. After all, carrying a tandem is the reason Ford still makes my Ranger. Err…

  • avatar
    Manny Calavera

    Miata never was as “competent” as a Boxster, but then, it never claimed to be. It is as simple fun as you can get while remaining affordable and roadworthy (safety regs, reliability etc).

    The PRHT is a convenience option. It’s not as Bad as having a slushbox in a Miata (heaven forfend), only because it doesn’t take much away from the fun factor. But then it is added complexity and weight, and that is against what an MX-5 stands for. So it is a Mild Transgression, and can be forgiven on a case-by-case basis..

    The spyder is also another transgression: an MX-5 should also be simple. And there can be nothing simple about pitching that Bedouin tent, especially when you already have a soft-top that can be flipped back in two seconds flat.

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