Chicago Celebration: Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary Edition

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Mazda is celebrating the original Miata’s 1989 debut at the Chicago Auto Show by taking the wraps off a 30th Anniversary Edition of the MX-5 at the same locale. Limited to just 3,000 units worldwide, the special edition will be offered as both the ragtop convertible and hardtop RF. Like previous anniversary editions of the famous roadster, Mazda is offering a unique color (Racing Orange, this time) and a handful of upgrades that should help collectors rationalize the elevated price tag.

We’re going to tell you right now that the only way to have this car is with a manual transmission. While we tend to always lean that way with the MX-5, having a clutch is the only way to get the 30th Anniversary Edition’s Bilstein dampers and a mechanical limited-slip differential. Otherwise, you’re basically paying extra to have one of the best parts of the package removed from the vehicle.

However, the automatic version still comes with the orange pant — which extends to the vehicle’s brake calipers (front Brembo units and Nissins in the rear), heated Recaro seats, door trim, dashboard, and shifter. It also gets the same commemorative badging, black mirrors, nine-speaker Bose audio system, and 17-inch aluminum wheels from Rays.

While we would have loved to see a few extra ponies crammed under the hood, Mazda upgraded the Miata’s 2.0-liter SkyActiv engine to 181 horsepower a few months ago. It would be a pretty big ask to have them go even bigger on this special edition, so we won’t complain. The standard engine is more than enough for track-day fun and backroad hooliganism.

With only 500 examples coming into the United States, pricing for the Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary Edition begins at $34,995 for a soft-top with the manual. Going with the very handsome RF will bring that sum up to $37,595 and optioning the six-speed automatic carries a $500 premium. While it is one hundred bucks cheaper to have the clutch removed on the ragtop, we still think having those dampers and the differential is the way to go.

Or, you could always just buy a base Miata for $25,730, use the savings to modify it six ways from Sunday, and chuck on a coat of orange paint yourself.

[Images: Mazda; © 2019 Tim Healey/TTAC]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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2 of 12 comments
  • Bloodnok Bloodnok on Feb 08, 2019

    ghastly colour on a really nice car. but they're sold out so no worries.

  • AJ AJ on Feb 10, 2019

    I remember 30 years ago, driving my then RX-7 to a small, local dealer to check out the first Miata. Today's car is what I expect, and it's just beautiful. And I like the orange! Bright colors do the car well.

  • Moris Nice cars .my nissan 1988 beautiful I own one
  • CKNSLS Sierra SLT I am thankful for those who have served/and serve this country to protect our freedoms.The "usual suspects" are quiet.......
  • KevinB Hemmings ran an article on the 1960 Cadillac Series 62 grille and its complexity. It took a lot of work.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Now going for $7000.
  • SCE to AUX Working on a deck project. Also replaced the A/C compressor in a Subaru.