Chicago Celebration: Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary Edition

Mazda is celebrating the original Miata’s 1989 debut at the Chicago Auto Show by taking the wraps off a 30th Anniversary Edition of the MX-5 at the same locale. Limited to just 3,000 units worldwide, the special edition will be offered as both the ragtop convertible and hardtop RF. Like previous anniversary editions of the famous roadster, Mazda is offering a unique color (Racing Orange, this time) and a handful of upgrades that should help collectors rationalize the elevated price tag.

We’re going to tell you right now that the only way to have this car is with a manual transmission. While we tend to always lean that way with the MX-5, having a clutch is the only way to get the 30th Anniversary Edition’s Bilstein dampers and a mechanical limited-slip differential. Otherwise, you’re basically paying extra to have one of the best parts of the package removed from the vehicle. 

However, the automatic version still comes with the orange pant — which extends to the vehicle’s brake calipers (front Brembo units and Nissins in the rear), heated Recaro seats, door trim, dashboard, and shifter. It also gets the same commemorative badging, black mirrors, nine-speaker Bose audio system, and 17-inch aluminum wheels from Rays.

While we would have loved to see a few extra ponies crammed under the hood, Mazda upgraded the Miata’s 2.0-liter SkyActiv engine to 181 horsepower a few months ago. It would be a pretty big ask to have them go even bigger on this special edition, so we won’t complain. The standard engine is more than enough for track-day fun and backroad hooliganism.

With only 500 examples coming into the United States, pricing for the Mazda MX-5 30th Anniversary Edition begins at $34,995 for a soft-top with the manual. Going with the very handsome RF will bring that sum up to $37,595 and optioning the six-speed automatic carries a $500 premium. While it is one hundred bucks cheaper to have the clutch removed on the ragtop, we still think having those dampers and the differential is the way to go.

Or, you could always just buy a base Miata for $25,730, use the savings to modify it six ways from Sunday, and chuck on a coat of orange paint yourself.

[Images: Mazda; © 2019 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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