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Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/20/23 11:58 a.m.

I'm hosting a discussion panel of six of the Miata's originators tomorrow. What questions would you have for them?

https://miatareunion.com/#meet-original-design-team

It'll be livestreamed on Flyin' Miata's YT channel from 3:00-4:30 Pacific on Saturday, Oct 21 (tomorrow).

 

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
10/20/23 12:07 p.m.

Wow. I don't have any questions (for now), but I know what I'm doing tomorrow night.

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
10/20/23 12:12 p.m.

What decisions did they make which were specific to driving feel and feedback, beyond really broad things like keeping it light?

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
10/20/23 12:21 p.m.

As an engineer, I know everything in a design is about compromise. Drivetrain and suspension designs have to compromise, everything has to compromise due to budgetary concerns.  Everything has to play nicely.

What is one overall design compromise that you wish you had pushed back on, what is one engineering compromise you wish you had pushed back on?

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/20/23 12:24 p.m.

In reply to Mr_Asa :

I had that exact same question already :) It's getting asked for sure.

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) UltimaDork
10/20/23 12:31 p.m.

Why didn't they make the passenger compartment just a few inches longer.....like 2-3"?

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt UltimaDork
10/20/23 12:33 p.m.

I recall seeing a clay model of a FWD proposal. Was it later developed into the Ford Econobox ZX2? It looked very similar.

Another rejected concept was mid engined. Do you think that might have also succeeded?

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
10/20/23 12:37 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

In reply to Mr_Asa :

I had that exact same question already :) It's getting asked for sure.

Its such a hard one too.  "You created a classic.  What did you screw up?"

Datsun240ZGuy
Datsun240ZGuy MegaDork
10/20/23 12:44 p.m.

I was at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show when it was unveiled.  My first thought was; they've built a new Lotus Elan.  Look at that DOHC Lotus (LOL) engine!

Did they have that in their minds too?  Was some based on this car?

mtn
mtn MegaDork
10/20/23 12:57 p.m.

 

  1. We've all heard about the Elan as the inspiration. How much experience did the team have with an Elan, before and during the development process? Were there any other benchmarks from automotive history that were used as inspiration?
  2. What was the reasoning for the unique door handles on the NA? And, if any of them were involved, why the change with the NB?
  3. The seats, while not terrible, are one of the common things that people wish was better. Why did they go for the relatively unsupporting and high-sitting ones that they did?
  4. Have any of the team owned their own Miata's? If they've modified them, how did they do so?
  5. What is their impression of the car 35 years later?
  6. Did they know they were designing one of the most successful sports cars, if not the most successful, at the time? What were their feelings before the release?
  7. How did this experience compare to others in their careers? What has been their favorite project? 
mr2peak
mr2peak GRM+ Memberand Dork
10/20/23 1:10 p.m.

For Tom Matano: is he more proud of the Miata or the FD RX7?

For the board: Why didn't we get a fixed top version in America at any point? Why was it such a limited run?

nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
10/20/23 1:47 p.m.

I'm curious what they feel about the NC and ND generations.

How feasible is an affordable EV sports car?  Would they be happy to see an EV Miata in the future?

wspohn
wspohn SuperDork
10/20/23 1:56 p.m.

I liked some of their initial styling mules a bit better than the body style they ended up with (they were more Italianate) but that is a minor quibble.  I think that the car they ended up producing was pretty good the way it was and sales proved that.

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
10/20/23 2:01 p.m.

How did they end up using a piston engine instead of a rotary?

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/20/23 2:05 p.m.

y u no sleepy eyes?

how do you feel about hellaflush?

etc

NermalSnert (Forum Supporter)
NermalSnert (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
10/20/23 4:38 p.m.

A must see for sure. I'd like to hear about something that each one wanted in the design and felt passionately about but didn't get, if anything.

Tom1200
Tom1200 PowerDork
10/20/23 5:10 p.m.

Very cool.........I talked to a couple of them at an SCCA regional ages ago. They told me all sorts of cool stuff which I've sadly forgotten.

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
10/20/23 5:49 p.m.

Why did the solid roof GT version not go into production?

Yeah, as someone who was involved in product planning and development for a living, I kinda know the answer, but it would be nice to hear the "Fly on the wall" details if there is anything interesting to be learned.

 

Pete

Mndsm
Mndsm MegaDork
10/20/23 6:02 p.m.

Is there anything about the enduring Miata culture that surprises you? Are there things happening now that you'd never have anticipated? 

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
10/20/23 6:14 p.m.

How close did the Miata come to being FWD or was it even considered?

mtn
mtn MegaDork
10/20/23 6:17 p.m.
Mr_Asa said:

As an engineer, I know everything in a design is about compromise. Drivetrain and suspension designs have to compromise, everything has to compromise due to budgetary concerns.  Everything has to play nicely.

What is one overall design compromise that you wish you had pushed back on, what is one engineering compromise you wish you had pushed back on?

What about the opposite? What was something you pushed back on and wished you hadn't? Or something that you didn't push back on, and in hindsight were glad you didn't?

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/20/23 6:18 p.m.

Did you have the sense that you were building something truly special and remarkable?

 

What astonishes me most about the Miata is not how good it is, it is that the market segment didn't really even exist.  That had to have been a huge gamble.  

Or maybe, given that the Z and the RX-7 had fallen into the bigger/more powerful/more luxurious trap, the market segment used to exist but had been left behind?

 

Either way, kudos for making the driving experience look and feel a lot like all of the good points of the early RX-7.  I sometimes refer to the early Miatas as the true second generation RX-7, and this is high praise.  It was a new and excellent car that had something somewhat rare for Japanese cars at the time: a sense of corporate identity and history, without being so steeped in nostalgia that the vehicle itself was compromised.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
10/20/23 7:26 p.m.

Most think Elan, but the books I've read as well as other cues say Alfa spider. Where are influences of each?

jimbob_racing
jimbob_racing SuperDork
10/20/23 9:02 p.m.

Not so much of a question here.

Just say thanks for me. Thanks for using your passion and belief that the Miata would succeed to move the project along and into production.

Nothing makes me happier than flipping two latches, dropping the top and hitting the road. Thank you all for giving us such a remarkable car.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/20/23 11:15 p.m.

I love this forum. Thanks everyone. 

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