By on March 5, 2019

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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11 Comments on “Rare Rides: A 2003 Mazda Roadster Coupe That’s Not for Americans...”


  • avatar
    Jean-Pierre Sarti

    in deference to what the snobs on miata.net say, there are people who like the Miata despite it being a convertible not because of it. i live in a place that having a convertible makes no sense.

    even the PRHT is just not the same, to me it still feels like a flimsy substitute for a true tin top.

    maybe i am in a very small group. or maybe they used the same market research that told Toyota that Supra buyers put having a manual low on their decision list…

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    You’d really have to have a Miata hankering to lay out forty grand for this, particularly when there’s a brand new one with a retractable steel roof for basically the same money.

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I LOVE IT! I’d happily take it over the convertible anyway of the week.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    The absence of a coupe version of the Miata is one of the reasons why I own an Infiniti G37S coupe. The Toyota/Subaru coupe wasn’t available back then. I have always referred to it as the Miata coupe Mazda refused to make. Well, they made it but refused to import it to the US. Either way, it cost them a sale.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      I always said if the Miata came in a hatchback with a turbo I would have owned one. I don’t like convertibles and need more power. Mazda doesn’t seem to want to address either of these issues. I think this coupe looks SO much better then the ‘vert. The new hardtop model is nice looking as well, but a fixed roof that slopes back into a hatch would be ideal.

  • avatar
    FrankE39

    I wish the seller showed a COMPETE side profile shot.
    Maybe the proportions are off and it doesn’t look good.

    Just did a google image search… the front doesn’t “fit” with the back:
    http://www.j-spec.com.au/lineup/images/Mazda_Roadster_Coupe_NB8C_5.jpg

    I see a lot of MX-6 in the rear section.

    Anyway, it’s still an interesting car.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    A pretty sweet ride!

  • avatar
    StudeDude

    I believe Mazda made a mistake not making this coupe available outside of Japan. Their rationale probably was that if folks wanted a coupe in other countries, they could buy the removable hardtop which was available on the NA through NC models.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

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

  • avatar
    bobmaxed

    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.


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