Rare Rides: A 2003 Mazda Roadster Coupe That’s Not for Americans

Mazda has always been fond of making special edition trims of the MX-5 Miata. In 2003, the engineers in Hiroshima decided to put together something a bit more unique than the usual colored trim/new wheel design combo. Presenting the 2003 Roadster Coupe.

Mazda’s original Miata (NA) debuted to critical and customer acclaim for the 1990 model year. By 1995, Mazda had a second-generation offering in the works, fittingly known as the NB. The new, more curvy roadster debuted at the Tokyo Motor show in the fall of 1997, going on sale in early 1998.

Wider and more aerodynamic than the original, the NB MX-5 borrowed some of its styling from the more expensive third-generation RX-7 coupe. Power increased, and the characterful pop-up headlamps were replaced with flush units that took smaller chunks out of pedestrians.

Changes were few until 2001, when a facelift brought a sharper look to the front-end styling, new seats, and slight revisions to the instrument cluster. Rigidity increased as well, and North American MX-5s received a horsepower bump from 140 to 143.

That brings us to 2003, when the engineering and technology people at Mazda drew up a Roadster Coupe version of the MX-5. They designed a metal roof that was fixed in place. The new roof added additional side glass and a rear window, which required a redesign of the trunk lid. This resulted in a weight gain of 22 pounds, but the solid roof meant the chassis was now stiffer than any convertible version.

While Mazda offered 1.6- and 1.8-liter engines across four trims of the Roadster Coupe, only the base model had the 1.6. The top trim S version had the 1.8-liter engine with 158 horsepower — a bit more than the standard MX-5. Power traveled rearward via a six-speed manual.

Mazda made between 179 and 1,000 Roadster Coupes, depending on who you ask, and they were only sold in the Japanese marketplace. Today’s Rare Ride is one of just 63 S trims produced, making it a very rare version of Roadster Coupe. In excellent restored condition and located in Hong Kong, the red beauty asks $39,700. It is, of course, eligible for importation into Canada.

[Images: seller]

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