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Here’s an odd statistic: The Mazda Miata’s sales increased 45% between 2022 and 2023. This is odd because in its 34 years of production, the Miata has carved out a niche and enjoyed consistent sales. So why the sudden Miata fever? I have a couple of theories.

Here are the numbers: In 2022, Miata sold just 6,172 MX-5 Miatas. But for the 2023 model year, that number went up 45% to 8,973 cars sold.

The MX-5 Miata is a great little roadster with a reputation for reliability. It is such a sensible sports car choice that enthusiasts joke Miata is an acronym that stands for: “MX-5 is always the answer.” Want a drop top with Japanese car reliability? A Miata is the answer. Want an attractive older car to transform weekend roadtrips into an adventure? A Miata is the answer. Dreaming of a project you can modify a little and then take to track days? A Miata is the answer.

Despite the thriving community of enthusiasts buying and modifying used Miatas, new sales have been relatively stable. In fact, the average used Miata buyer has historically been older than the average Corvette buyer. The stereotypical young enthusiast who modifies their Miata for track days often starts with a used one. But it seems that that all changed in 2023.

There’s another number that might explain this resurgence. By 2021, the percentage of cars sold in the U.S. with a manual transmission had plummeted to less than 1%. By the end of 2023, that number had rebounded to 1.7%. That’s right, the stick shift is enjoying a renaissance.

In many ways, the Mazda Miata is the quintessential three-pedal car. It is simple, low to the ground, and handles well. Driving it is a visceral experience, made all the better by a manual transmission. It’s no shocker that 60% of Miata buyers opt for a stick.

2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata driving down a highway.
2024 Mazda MX-5 Miata | Mazda

Increased interest in stick shift cars could be what’s driving the MX-5 sales numbers. So why the sudden interest? It could just be a cultural shift, a return to nimble sports cars. Or perhaps folks with some disposable income are choosing to pick up one last internal combustion car, a fun weekend machine they expect to enjoy for years to come. And if the history of the Miata has told us one thing, it’s that the car has staying power.

Another theory is that Miata sales dropped for a minute and are just now recovering. Miata sold about 8,00 Miatas in 2018, 2019, and 2020. Sales bumped to 10,470 during 2021. That was a year we saw a ton of sales for “splurge” vehicles such as 4WDs and sports cars. With folks stuck at home during the COVID-19 quarantine and not spending money on other things, hobby cars were a smart purchase. Driving was, after all, one of our only excuses to get out. So the 2022 numbers may have been artificially low.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens to Miata sales numbers in 2024. So far, the automaker has moved 1,411 roadsters which is actually a steep decline. There have been about half as many Miatas sold each month this year versus last year. That puts us on track for just 5,644 Miatas sold in 2024, which lowest sales numbers in a decade. Will a summer convertible rush save the Miata? Only time will tell where this roller coaster lands.

Next, learn more about the stick shift renaissance, or see a review of the 2024 Miata in the video below:

Related We’re in the Midst of a Stick Shift Renaissance and Here Are the Numbers to Prove It

We’re in the Midst of a Stick Shift Renaissance and Here Are the Numbers to Prove It