Which Miata makes the best race car: NA, NB, NC or ND?

Steven Cole
By Steven Cole Smith
Nov 8, 2023 | Mazda, Miata, MX-5, NB, NC, NA, ND, Cup | Posted in Features | From the Feb. 2016 issue | Never miss an article

Photography Courtesy Mazda

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of Grassroots Motorsports.]

The Mazda MX-5 Miata: It’s really the gift that keeps on giving, isn’t it? 

Those of us who were around in 1989 knew that Mazda had delivered something truly special in the 1990 Miata–and yes, we know Mazda might prefer that we call them MX-5s, but …

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Comments
nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
10/28/20 9:14 a.m.

Great story, bro yes

Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter)
Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
10/28/20 9:27 a.m.

Super good story. I like it. 

350z247
350z247 New Reader
10/28/20 2:49 p.m.

"Name another model that has been in production for 25 years that doesn’t have a substandard offering in the mix."

That's because they are the "substandard offering", excluding the lone Mazdaspeed. Miatas are entry level sports cars with great bones; proof that cheap doesn't have to mean bad. However, they just can't compare to higher market cars; all that research and devolvement money does actually count for something. While the Miata wasn't as comparatively slow in the malaise years of the 90s, the lap time delta to the Americans, Germans, and slightly more expensive Japanese rivals has grown larger with each subsequent generation.

Kent Krueger
Kent Krueger None
10/28/20 4:56 p.m.

Miata manual transmissions have been textbook-good since the first 1990 model rolled off the boat, but you just couldn’t ask for more than this ND delivered. 

From what I can tell this article was written back in 2016, before the ND1 transmission problems were known. Those of us with pre-2019 MX5s refer to them as glass transmissions. It's not if it will break...but when. Mazda and the Global MX5 competitors got so tired of breaking transmissions that now a SADAV sequential is required. Sigh. Enthusiasts like myself are left out in the cold by Mazda.

thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter)
thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
10/28/20 5:55 p.m.
350z247 said:

"Name another model that has been in production for 25 years that doesn’t have a substandard offering in the mix."

That's because they are the "substandard offering", excluding the lone Mazdaspeed. Miatas are entry level sports cars with great bones; proof that cheap doesn't have to mean bad. However, they just can't compare to higher market cars; all that research and devolvement money does actually count for something. While the Miata wasn't as comparatively slow in the malaise years of the 90s, the lap time delta to the Americans, Germans, and slightly more expensive Japanese rivals has grown larger with each subsequent generation.

Breaking News: more expensive car is faster

ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter)
ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) Reader
10/28/20 6:27 p.m.
thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter) said:
350z247 said:

"Name another model that has been in production for 25 years that doesn’t have a substandard offering in the mix."

That's because they are the "substandard offering", excluding the lone Mazdaspeed. Miatas are entry level sports cars with great bones; proof that cheap doesn't have to mean bad. However, they just can't compare to higher market cars; all that research and devolvement money does actually count for something. While the Miata wasn't as comparatively slow in the malaise years of the 90s, the lap time delta to the Americans, Germans, and slightly more expensive Japanese rivals has grown larger with each subsequent generation.

Breaking News: more expensive car is faster

Not just more expensive to buy, but more expensive to run.  A big part of the appeal of a Miata racecar is the low cost of consumables.  You can get a turbo I4 Camaro 1LE for around the cost of an ND Club, but expect to pay about double for everything that the car uses up. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 Dork
10/28/20 8:24 p.m.

350z247 does bring up an interesting point; for some people Miata lap times are such that for some people will spend the extra bit of cash to get something that turns faster lap times.

My take is and has been this; I driven some really cool cars on track, almost every Porsche ever made from 356 to GT3RS, raced prepped Vipers and some pretty rapid single seat race cars and anytime someone offers me a chance to drive a Miata I jump on it. They are the most fun car ever.

350z247
350z247 New Reader
10/28/20 10:11 p.m.

In reply to ShinnyGroove (Forum Supporter) :

That specific example isn't worth it as the I4 in the Camaro is hardly inspiring, but there are other examples of cars that are worth the added costs. I could buy a used E92 M3 for 10K less than the top of the line ND. Sure, I'll spend more in consumables, but I'd rather pay more for a car I'm excited to drive than settle for the bare minimum. That said, I can't afford to run a 458 GT3 no matter how badly I want to; so, we all settle to some extent.

Tom1200
Tom1200 Dork
10/28/20 10:53 p.m.

In reply to 350z247 :

You are correct we all settle to.some degree BUT

 If I hit the mega-super-bucks-jumbo lotto tomorrow I will but a vintage Formula Super Vee or Formula Atlantic or SCCA P1 car and you guessed a Miata track day car. 

Miatas are fun as he'll to hoon around in because your traveling at relatively low speeds so you can get away with so much in them. We've owned two Miatas and I never considered them as settling. 

APEowner
APEowner GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/29/20 9:46 a.m.

I own three race cars. 

 

A 650 HP Camaro

A Crossle 32F Formula Ford (pardon the mess in the shop)

 

And a Spec. Miata

 

 

The Miata is the slowest of the three but it's also the one that gets raced the most and I wouldn't say that any one of them is more or less fun to drive than the other.  The Miata is without question the cheapest and most reliable. 

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