The California Automobile Museum Will Host the Father of the Miata, Tom Matano

The California Automobile Museum will host Tom Matano—known as the father of the Miata—at their museum in Sacramento on November 2. There will also be an informal cruise-in featuring Miatas in front of the museum beforehand, culminating in Matano discussing his journey in the automotive world. Tickets can be purchased online here

Find the full press release below, and leave a comment. 

(Sacramento, CA) The California Automobile Museum is proud to present An Evening with Tom Matano, Father of the Miata, to be held at the Museum on November 2nd, 2019.  In conjunction with the Sacramento Area Miata Owners Association, with support from presenting sponsor Elk Grove Mazda, participants are invited to bring their Miatas to the Museum for an informal “Cruise-In” starting at 4:00 PM. Guests will have the opportunity to meet Tom and get their picture taken with him as well as listen to him speak about his journey. Food trucks and craft beer will enhance the festive atmosphere of the gathering. 

Over one hundred MX-5 Miatas are expected to park at the museum located at 2200 Front St., Sacramento, CA 95818. Ticket prices are $27.50 for museum members and car club members and $35.00 for non-members. Museum admission is included in the ticket price.

California Automobile Museum board member Tom Tyer is the driving force behind this event. A Miata owner himself, he enthusiastically shared, “This will be a special evening with Dr. Matano. I can’t wait to have the “Father of the Miata” sign my glove compartment!”

The Mazda MX-5 “Miata” debuted at the Chicago Auto show in 1989. Hailed as “a unique new sports car for the ‘90s, born of traditional sports car values,” the Mazda MX-5 “Miata” was promoted as a synthesis of contemporary automotive advances and traditional sports car qualities. The idea for the Miata came to Mr. Matano who longed to design an affordable sports car featuring the classic look and quality of 1950s and 60s sports cars like his own Fiat M50 Spider or the popular Triumph Spitfire. 

In 1983, he joined Mazda’s North American studio as a Chief Designer. From there, he went on to become Executive Vice President of Western Operations for Mazda R&D North America, Inc., and Executive Designer & Director of Mazda North American Operations. The overriding goal for the Miata was focusing on educating the public to work on the cars themselves, much as enthusiasts did in the 1950s and ‘60s. Because of that commitment, the aftermarket for Miata parts exploded, allowing enthusiasts freedom to easily customize their cars. This led to the passionate devotion of MX-5 owners and a love affair that has lasted through 5 generations of the little sports car.  

In a 2015 interview by Tara Hulin for, Matano shares his philosophy: “Miata’s design doesn’t oversell its power; the internal mechanical engineering delivers exactly what it looks like on the outside,” Matano said. “It’s well-proportioned and balanced — simplicity is key. It’s a car you can jump into and take for a drive. It’s worry-free and fun, especially with the top down. There’s nothing quite like taking winding roads in a Miata, with fresh air filling your nostrils and sunshine radiating against your skin, bringing you closer to the great outdoors.” 

His accomplishments at Mazda include the 1993 RX-7 and Miata, in addition to many other projects produced by the design teams he built and managed.

Since 2002, Mr. Matano has been committed to becoming an educator, using his diverse knowledge and experience to enhance the Industrial Design program at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, CA, now ranked #4 in the Red Dot World Ranking of Industrial Design schools.

Tickets are on sale now at and must be purchased on line. There will be no tickets available at the door. 

For more information, please visit the Museum website at or call 916-442-6802.

Join Free Join our community to easily find more Miata and California Automobile Museum news.
View comments on the GRM forums
Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/23/19 5:07 p.m.

Where did you dig up that photo? That's a pre-production car, probably the one that was in R&T back in the day. Is it one of the Chicago cars?

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela Digital Editor
10/23/19 5:57 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

It's from our archives; we actually have quite a few from this shoot. I'll ask David tomorrow if he knows where we got the photos from. 

dculberson MegaDork
10/23/19 9:09 p.m.

Tom Matano Miata has a certain ring to it. Tom's Miata. Which tom? Tom Matano. Tom Matano's Miata? Yeah! Matano's Miata might miss Messerschmitts. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/23/19 9:12 p.m.
Jordan Rimpela said:

In reply to Keith Tanner :

It's from our archives; we actually have quite a few from this shoot. I'll ask David tomorrow if he knows where we got the photos from. 

I was just in my Miata archive for other reasons, and I think that's the car from Dennis Simantis' pre-release drive for R&T that was published in early 1989. Looks like it's actually from the same photo shoot.

Yes, I am a terrible Miata nerd.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/23/19 9:57 p.m.
dculberson said:

Tom Matano Miata has a certain ring to it. Tom's Miata. Which tom? Tom Matano. Tom Matano's Miata? Yeah! Matano's Miata might miss Messerschmitts. 

IIRC, Tom Matano's Miata is Montego Blue. Seriously.

Toebra Dork
10/24/19 2:15 a.m.

Here he is at the Miata thing at Laguna Seca from 2014



Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/24/19 3:40 p.m.

Tom does not miss a Miata meet if he can help it. He loves the community and has a great memory for faces. He truly gets joy out of it.

I last saw him at Laguna Seca about two weeks ago. Turns out he loves Lancias and the Martini livery on the Targa Miata. So you know he's a good guy.

Foxworx Reader
10/28/19 12:09 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

I remember reading,re-reading and salivating (and re-salivating) over that article. At the time I was 19 and had a 72 MGB (First and only car at that point) and the idea of one that actually WORKED!






Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/28/19 12:30 p.m.

My mom's first car was a first-year MGB. She once accused me of showing off when I put the top up on my Miata in front of her.

Here's the article in question. For some reason, I didn't snap a picture of the next page which has a shot that is clearly from the same photo session as the one used by GRM. I've never seen this car anywhere else that I can recall, those wheels are distinctive.

Jordan Rimpela
Jordan Rimpela Digital Editor
10/28/19 12:49 p.m.

Looks familiar. 

stylngle2003 Reader
10/31/19 12:22 p.m.

the centercaps on those wheels completely change the way the daisies look, for the ohsomuchbetter.  keith, are those caps available anywhere?

Shadeux Reader
10/31/19 12:34 p.m.

In reply to stylngle2003 :

Wow, what an improvement! I don't care for daisy wheels, but this changes things!

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/31/19 1:16 p.m.

Best way to improve the daisies are simply to remove the center caps :)

I've not seen those particular ones anywhere else - although I was just flipping through one of the Tajima photo books and there are a bunch more pictures of this blue car. I'll bet someone with a lathe would be able to make a set.

BlindPirate Reader
10/31/19 1:28 p.m.

I don't really like the daisies with the center caps either. I do like them without them though. I have bought a Miata and had the center caps off before it left the PO's driveway

Our Preferred Partners