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2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata
Dates tested: 10/14/2014-10/22/2014
Miles Driven: 120
Fuel Used: 5.1 gallons
Driving mix: 65% city, 35% highway
It wasn’t long after its introduction for 1990 that the Mazda Miata gained a cult following. Clearly intended as a resurrection of the classic British sports car (though one that was actually likely to get you home), the Miata has survived nearly 25 years in an industry that sheds low-production cars like a Shetland Sheepdog sheds fur.
Mazda and Fiat Auto are teaming up to develop a small rear-wheel-drive sports car that will be sold as the next-generation MX-5 Miata and as the first new Alfa Romeo Spider since the 1996-2010 model. The project was announced in late May 2012 with a joint statement by Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and Mazda Chairman Takashi Yamanouchi. The plan is to develop “two differentiated, distinctly styled, iconic, and brand-specific lightweight roadsters. . . . The Mazda and Alfa Romeo variants will each be powered by specific proprietary engines unique to each brand.”
Note: The following story was excerpted from the August 2021 issue of Collectible Automobile magazine.
The Alfa Romeo Spider had a long history in the U.S. It first went on sale as a 1967 model called Duetto. It was fairly typical for a two-seat convertible sports car in its day with low bodywork, a four-cylinder engine, Weber carburetors, manual transmission, folding top, and a live rear axle. For this Cheap Wheels, we pick it up further downstream, in 1983, when Alfa facelifted the already long-running Pininfarina-designed car. By then it was called Spider Veloce, and these Alfas are sometimes referred to as Series 3 Spiders.
Ah, the factory hot-rodded compact car. It’s a genre that really came into its own during the first decade of the new millennium, influenced in part by the import-tuner craze and the unexpected blockbuster success of the 2001 movie The Fast and the Furious. Before long, several mainstream-brand manufacturers were offering snarky, youth-oriented versions of their bread-and-butter compact sedans and hatchbacks, with performance-tuned suspensions and gutsy turbocharged powerplants.
Ford, Hyundai, and Kia Tie for Most Awarded Brand, With Five Best Buy Models Each
Honda Brand Claims Four Best Buys
As American new-vehicle buyers continue to choose SUVs in significantly greater numbers than traditional passenger cars, affordable cars of any type are less prevalent than they were as recently as five years ago. Enthusiast-friendly examples are a rarer breed still. When you sharpen the search to affordable, track-ready, rear-wheel-drive sports cars, you quickly determine they are approaching unicorn status.
If you trust Wikipedia, the Cord 810 was among the first automobiles to sport hidden headlamps. As far as design trends go, that’s a pretty auspicious starting point. For the purposes of this gallery, we are making a clear distinction between hidden headlamps—those found in or near a traditional grille–and pop-up headlamps along the lines of those found on the early-generation Mazda Miata or RX-7.