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What’s the Best Gift for Mazda’s 100th Anniversary? The Answer Is “Miata”

While most special edition cars can be seen as “gimmicky,” we don’t feel like that’s the case with the MX-5 that’s being rolled out to celebrate Mazda’s 100th anniversary. It’s been 100 years since the Mazda corporation first started, and it’s amazing to think that the Miata has existed for 30 of those years. In that case, we can’t think of a better model with which to kick off the celebration.

The 100th Anniversary MX-5 will pay homage to the car that started it all

The 100th Anniversary Special Edition MX-5 is going to pay homage to the brand’s first car produced, the R360. It will be based on the car’s Grand Touring trim level and feature a Snow Flake White Pearl Mica paint job, a red soft top, and graphite seven-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels. It will be available in the RF hardtop version as well, and in that guise, it will come with a black hardtop.

A look at the interior of the 100th Anniversary MX-5 will reveal red leather seats, red carpets, and red floor mats to complement the look, as well as multiple badges on the interior and exterior of the car to celebrate the centennial milestone. And while we can always keep our fingers crossed when it comes to horsepower figures on special editions like this, we’re sad to hear that the 100th Anniversary car will get the same 181-horsepower, four-cylinder engine that comes on the standard MX-5. A little more power would have helped, but we can’t really complain.

100th Anniversary MX-5 and R360
100th Anniversary MX-5 and R360 | Mazda

This MX-5 should handle better

While more power would always be a plus, all is not lost. Mazda will be imbuing its centennial roadster with a sportier suspension and more grip. The 100th Anniversary MX-5 will come with either a six-speed automatic or manual transmission, and if you opt for the latter, you’ll also get a limited-slip differential. However, both iterations will include Bilstein dampers and a front shock tower brace. Other standard features will include a Bose sound system with headrest speakers, heated seats, and Apple Carplay/Android Auto.

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100th Anniversary MX-5 Interior
100th Anniversary MX-5 Interior | Mazda

The Mazda R360 was innovative

According to Automobile Magazine, the Mazda R360 was introduced into the Japanese market back in 1960 and was the brand’s first passenger car ever produced. Around that time, after World War II, the Japanese government started the kei car segment — a category of really small cars that cost less to register and insure – in order to get the Japanese public driving again. So Mazda produced the R360, a lightweight kei car that served as a testament to their winning formula for small fun cars, like the MX-5.

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The R360 only weighed 838 pounds, which was 81 pounds lighter than its competitors, such as the Subaru 360. In addition to a lighter weight advantage, Mazda also upped the ante in the engine compartment. The R360 was powered by a 356cc, four-cycle engine that was located in the rear of the car and produced 16 horsepower and reach speeds up to 56 mph. By comparison, its rivals at the time were powered by slower two-stroke engines.

Mated to the tiny powerplant was either a three-speed manual transmission or a two-speed “semi-automatic” transmission that could be shifted but did not have a clutch pedal. Other innovations on this car include a rack-and-pinion steering mechanism as well as a four-wheel independent suspension, which means that this tiny car was actually advanced than the Ford Mustang at the time.

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The Mazda MX-5 and R360 face-off
The Mazda MX-5 and R360 face-off | Mazda

The 100th Anniversary MX-5 should arrive soon

While we don’t have any official word from Mazda on when exactly the 100th Anniversary MX-5 will be arriving at dealers, it should be here by the fourth quarter of 2020. We do have an idea on pricing, though, as this special-edition MX-5 will be priced at $33,615 for the soft-top version and $36,370 for the RF model.