By Ted Orme
It was just after school let out in 1989. My then 13-year-old son scored two tickets from a scalper to the sold-out Who concert at RFK Stadium. It was a much appreciated birthday present for his old rocker dad. The concert was terrific – even after passing on the reefers freely passed around. But the real sensation that day was the crowd reaction to our mode of transport, the just introduced 1990 Mazda MX-5 Miata roadster.
In the grand tradition of classic British roadsters, the MX-5 was the model of simplicity. It was small (155.4 inches long, 65.9 inches wide, 48.2 inches high, with an 89.2 inch wheelbase), lightweight (2,116 lbs.), rear-wheel drive, and affordable (with a starting price of $13,800).
It took nearly 9 seconds to hit 60 mph with the original 97.5 cubic inch, 116 horsepower four cylinder DOHC 16 valve engine. But that was plenty good enough when teamed with a quick shifting 5 speed manual transmission, 50/50 weight ratio, rigid chassis, taut independent double wishbone suspension, no fail four-wheel disc brakes, and an easily flipped down manual top that offered pure, wind-in-the-face driving fun.