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For over 30 years, the Mazda MX-5 Miata has been a legend among sports cars. The MX-5 Miata has experienced updates and changes over the years, but the heart and soul have remained the same since its debut. This popular roadster is still compact, lightweight, and has rear-wheel drive. There’s no question that it has stood the test of time, but one big question remains unanswered. What does the MX-5 stand for?

The history of the incredible Mazda MX-5 Miata

MX-5 rear badging on a Mazda MX-5 Miata roadster convertible model seen in Milan, Italy
MX-5 badging on a Mazda Miata | Guido De Bortoli/Getty Images For Garage Italia Customs

In the 1970s, Bob Hall, an American motoring journalist, couldn’t get out of his head the concept of a simple and fun sports car that had the look and feel of British sports cars. So, when Hall eventually went to work with Mazda, he spearheaded the design and production of the MX-5 Miata. It debuted at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show and became an instant success due to its simplicity and affordability.

 Recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records

The fun little sports car became an instant global phenomenon and went on to break records. According to Inside Mazda, in 2000, the MX-5 Miata was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s best-selling two-seater sports car. What an incredible accomplishment to be recognized worldwide. 

Continuous innovation

In 2006, Mazda introduced a new version of the MX-5 Miata that featured a retractable hardtop. With this new model, Miata offered an open-top driving experience and gained even more popularity and the ability to reach a wider audience.

The most recent version of the MX-5 Miata, the fourth generation (ND), was released in September 2014 and quickly hit one million units. Not long after, Mazda released a hardtop version known as the Retractable Fastback (RF), which is beloved by those looking for an open-air experience. Through the years, the body style and features have seen updates. However, the initial mission to create a fun and affordable sports car remain the focus of the MX-5 Miata.

What does MX-5 stand for? 

Believe it or not, the MX-5 is not just a random number like a serial code. It’s actually an acronym for “Mazda Experimental Project – Number 5.” So, its full name is the Mazda Experimental Project Number 5 Miata. That is a hard name to remember and too long for car badges, so the name was shortened to the MX-5 Miata. 

In fact, most Mazda vehicles are similarly named. For example, there is the Mazda CX-5, whose full name is “Crossover Experimental Project – Number 5.” There are slight variations among models, but for the most part, they all follow this naming style. 

Where is the Mazda MX-5 Miata today?

Today, the Mazda MX-5 Miata is still going strong and is widely popular among sports car lovers of all ages around the world. Even those who aren’t car enthusiasts have heard of the MX-5 Miata, which shows its popularity and impact over the decades. The most recent update to the ND generation was in 2016. In 2022, Mazda commemorated a remarkable milestone by releasing a limited 25th Anniversary Edition that dazzled Miata lovers everywhere. 

The MX-5 Miata is one of the most popular roadsters in the world because it feels like an extension of your body and offers a view of the world from a whole new perspective. Its systematic name demonstrates its rich history and adds to the appeal that is sure to astound for generations to come. For such a small sports car, there is so much to learn, including safety ratings, reviews, and Mazda’s future plans for this legendary model.