Only 16 years old and already a classic, with a cult following as well, Mazda MX-5 is a unique phenomenon. The new MX-5 follows in the footsteps of two previous versions, whose success surpassed even the most optimistic predictions.

Since 2000, the successor to the classic British roadsters of the 1960s has been in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling two-seater sports car of all time. A total of 531,890 units built between April 1989 and October 1999 make the Mazda MX-5 the most successful open-top, two-seat sports car in history.

Since then, Mazda MX-5 has continued to be very popular with sports car customers. Up to July 2005 Mazda has produced 724,667 units. From the total number of Mazda MX-5s produced for Europe, 199,542, over a third at 67,079 were sold in the UK. In addition, 350,411 were sold in North America, 149,400 in Japan and 11,334 in Australia. At 431,506 units, the first-generation Mazda MX-5, famous for its pop-up headlights, has had the lion's share of total production. After replacing the first generation at the end of 1997, the second generation achieved production volumes of 290,123 units.

News of the Mazda Miata introduction at Chicago in 1989 hit the motoring world like a bombshell. Originally meant for the USA and Japan, excitement was so great that it literally washed over the Atlantic to Europe and Mazda was not able to supply enough vehicles from Japan to meet global demand.

Desperate to have the car, European MX-5 fanatics came up with the idea of importing versions on their own to Europe. To this day, these models can be identified by the Miata logo on their rear ends an emblem that seems like a membership to a secret society.

More Than 1,000 Mazda Miatas Are Involved In Competitive Racing in the USA

The Mazda MX-5 also has a large motor sports following. In Switzerland, England, Portugal and Belgium there are manufacturer's 'one-make' racing series using the Japanese handling phenomenon. In the car's home country of Japan, MX-5's race competitively against each other as well. But Mazda MX-5 racing series are most popular, and always have been, in North America.

The "Mazdaspeed Miata Cup" is one of the fastest growing racing series in all of American motor sports. According to estimates by the Sports Car Club of America, there are more than 1,000 identically tuned first and second-generation Mazda Miatas actively involved in motor sports.

And there is good reason for this. Using for the most part standard technology, these racing series offer drivers an extremely affordable way to enter professional sports car racing. Thanks to identical racing standards throughout North America, it also gives drivers the chance to demonstrate their talents nationwide in front of a large audience.