For most manufacturers, sports cars do not make very much money. In fact, many act as loss leaders, getting people into dealerships and drumming up hype for the brand, in hopes of enhancing the sales of its more practical stablemates. Despite this, Mazda hasn't gone a model year without producing and selling the MX-5 Miata since it was first introduced back in 1989. As the poster child of big-fun-small-costs, the Miata wormed its way onto amateur race grids the world over.
An unavoidable aspect of motor racing of any stripe—as I suspect some of our readers will know all too well—are the crashes. Mazda, the makers of one of the most raced cars ever produced, knows this. And they seem to have worked it into the business case that they hand to the accountants every time the MX-5 is due to be renewed with an expensive redesign.
As part of a report by Automotive News and highlighted by Road & Track, Mazda has been bundling in the revenue gained from the sales of replacement parts to amateur racers who have crashed their Miatas when financially justifying the car's very existence. David Undercoffler of AutoNews writes, "When Mazda bean counters do the math on the business case for another generation of the Miata, knowing that there will be reliable demand for parts helps the car’s case."
Mazda special assignments senior vice president Robert Davis says, "Those program managers in our process get that total business picture. They try to understand it upfront, so while the sales volume of the cars might not be there, they can expect to have X number of parts sales for the next six to eight years."
Auto racing, even at the amateur level, is inherently rough on the machines that participate. Get into enough scuffles and that MX-5 Cup car may have had so many parts replaced, you might as well have bought two of them. Some auditor in Hiroshima is counting on it.