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Here’s a puzzle for you: Mazda Miata sales went up almost 50 percent in 2023. That sort of thing almost never happens to a 30-year-old car without a full redesign. But for some reason or another, a ton of drivers just decided they wanted a Miata.

Car enthusiasts tend to think of Miata drivers as young folks who want a reliable used sports car they can modify a bit that costs next-to-nothing. So it might be shocking to find out that the average new Miata buyer is 62 years old. That’s even older than the average Corvette buyer! And it makes the recent surge in sales even more surprising.

One piece of the puzzle may be the rising sales rates of manual transmission cars. The “take rate” for a stick shift had fallen below 1% by 2021, but by the end of 2023 it climbed back up to 1.7%. And the Mazda Miata is very much the quintessential manual car.

Gray Mazda Miata drift car skidding on a race track.
1st-gen Mazda Miata MX-5 | Arthur Poulin via Unsplash

Reddit user Jack The Sipper posted Motor1’s coverage of Miata’s surging sales to and enthusiasts weighed in with some illuminating comments.

One commenter said, “Good. The Miata is a gem of a car and deserves strong sales.” Another user was more specific, “Wow looks what happens when a car is available in manual, sporty and easy to buy for MSRP? Take notes Toyota and Honda. (sic)” One of the most succinct comments should be a Miata tagline, “Sporty drive, not sporty price. I get it.”

Considering how fast new car MSRPs are climbing, I think the Miata’s low starting price may be a likely reason it’s enjoying a sales increase.

Other enthusiasts put it to Toyota more bluntly. “There’s where all the Supra sales went.” and “So this is where all the -50% supra sales went.” And finally, “Supra sales go down 50%, Miata sales go up 50%…looks like the people have spoken…”

While Toyota began offering a stick shift Supra for the 2023 model year, the I6-powered coupe’s MSRP is $46,440, while the Miata is holding at $30k.

Some folks in the know do have issues with how Mazda is configuring Miatas for dealer lots: “That’s good news but I still think their decision to lock their enthusiast trim of their enthusiast car behind orders only is baffling.”

Black Mazda Miata sports car parked on the top deck of a parking garage.
2nd-gen Mazda Miata | Jaromír Kavan via Unsplash

One commenter is very nearly a Miata convert: “I know why. I rented an ND2 RF last year and couldn’t stop thinking of buying one. Best price:fun ratio of any car I can think of.”

Another commenter should probably be interviewed for a Mazda commercial ASAP:

I’ll drive my NC until the doors fall off. Which probably won’t be for a long time. 130,000-ish miles and still going strong. It’s seen two coasts and over a dozen national parks. One notable stint in April on Trail Ridge Road with the top down and a jacket on, the roads clear but snow everywhere. The MZR engine (it’s an ’08) doesn’t burn a drop of oil and begs to be driven hard. I’ve hit triple digits in a double digit number of states. They really built the drivetrains in these things to last that’s for damn sure.

Philo_T_Farnsworth on

It was an interesting mix of comments. Because on the one hand, the Miata is very much the darling of millennial and Gen Z forums such as /r/Cars. One popular comment went so far as to say, “The Miata must be protected at all costs.”

A set of Mazda MX-5 sports cars take a corner.
2023 Mazda MX-5 | Mazda

But on the other hand, the average member of Reddit’s /r/Cars subreddit is not your average 62-year-old new Miata buyer. One put their opinion on rising new Miata sales very succinctly: “Good, the more miats sold today the better the odds of me getting one of these as a 7th owner 10yrs from now in the EV age.”

But at least one forum member is a proud owner of a new Miata. Goldpanda94 said, “I was one of them with my ND2!”

Next, read about the stick shift renaissance sweeping sports car enthusiasts, or learn more about the Miata’s long history in the video below: