Rare Rides: A 2003 Mazda Roadster Coupe That's Not for Americans

rare rides a 2003 mazda roadster coupe thats not for americans

Mazda has always been fond of making special edition trims of the MX-5 Miata. In 2003, the engineers in Hiroshima decided to put together something a bit more unique than the usual colored trim/new wheel design combo. Presenting the 2003 Roadster Coupe.

Mazda’s original Miata (NA) debuted to critical and customer acclaim for the 1990 model year. By 1995, Mazda had a second-generation offering in the works, fittingly known as the NB. The new, more curvy roadster debuted at the Tokyo Motor show in the fall of 1997, going on sale in early 1998.

Wider and more aerodynamic than the original, the NB MX-5 borrowed some of its styling from the more expensive third-generation RX-7 coupe. Power increased, and the characterful pop-up headlamps were replaced with flush units that took smaller chunks out of pedestrians.

Changes were few until 2001, when a facelift brought a sharper look to the front-end styling, new seats, and slight revisions to the instrument cluster. Rigidity increased as well, and North American MX-5s received a horsepower bump from 140 to 143.

That brings us to 2003, when the engineering and technology people at Mazda drew up a Roadster Coupe version of the MX-5. They designed a metal roof that was fixed in place. The new roof added additional side glass and a rear window, which required a redesign of the trunk lid. This resulted in a weight gain of 22 pounds, but the solid roof meant the chassis was now stiffer than any convertible version.

While Mazda offered 1.6- and 1.8-liter engines across four trims of the Roadster Coupe, only the base model had the 1.6. The top trim S version had the 1.8-liter engine with 158 horsepower — a bit more than the standard MX-5. Power traveled rearward via a six-speed manual.

Mazda made between 179 and 1,000 Roadster Coupes, depending on who you ask, and they were only sold in the Japanese marketplace. Today’s Rare Ride is one of just 63 S trims produced, making it a very rare version of Roadster Coupe. In excellent restored condition and located in Hong Kong, the red beauty asks $39,700. It is, of course, eligible for importation into Canada.

[Images: seller]

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2 of 11 comments
  • Flipper35 Flipper35 on Mar 06, 2019

    What is a roadster coupe? Seems contradictory to me as it has no open top.

  • Bobmaxed Bobmaxed on Mar 06, 2019

    I have always judged car styling by the width of the C-pillar. Oh how I hated vinyl roofs. This Miata with its slim c-pillar has just shot to the top as my all time favorite Miata. Along that line I have serious doubts about the new Mazda 3 hatchback.

  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
  • Arthur Dailey I am normally a fan of Exner's designs but by this time the front end on the Stutz like most of the rest of the vehicle is a laughable monstrosity of gauche. The interior finishes suit the rest of the vehicle. Corey please put this series out of its misery. This is one vehicle manufacturer best left on the scrap heap of history.
  • Art Vandelay I always thought what my Challenger really needed was a convertible top to make it heavier and make visability worse.
  • Dlc65688410 Please stop, we can't take anymore of this. Think about doing something on the Spanish Pegaso.
  • MaintenanceCosts A few bits of context largely missing from this article:(1) For complicated historical reasons, the feds already end up paying much of the cost of buying new transit buses of all types. It is easier legally and politically to put capital funds than operating funds into the federal budget, so the model that has developed in most US agencies is that operational costs are raised from a combination of local taxes and fares while the feds pick up much of the agencies' capital needs. So this is not really new spending but a new direction for spending that's been going on for a long time.(2) Current electric buses are range-challenged. Depending on type of service they can realistically do 100-150 miles on a charge. That's just fine for commuter service where the buses typically do one or two trips in the morning, park through the midday, and do one or two trips in the evening. It doesn't work well for all-day service. Instead of having one bus that can stay out from early in the morning until late at night (with a driver change or two) you need to bring the bus back to the garage once or twice during the day. That means you need quite a few more buses and also increases operating costs. Many agencies are saying for political reasons that they are going to go electric in this replacement cycle but the more realistic outcome is that half the buses can go electric while the other half need one more replacement cycle for battery density to improve. Once the buses can go 300 miles in all weather they will be fine for the vast majority of service.(3) With all that said, the transition to electric will be very good. Moving from straight diesel to hybrid already cut down substantially on emissions, but even reduced diesel emissions cause real public health damage in city settings. Transitioning both these buses and much of the urban truck fleet to electric will have measurable and meaningful impacts on public health.