Chapter 7, Verse 8 in the automotive Bible provides one of the holiest of proverbs to the enthusiast, reading “The answer is always Miata.” That sacrosanct testament sits above all others thanks to Mazda’s devotion to the tiny, but mighty, little sportscar. Yet, while other classics have enjoyed manufacturer-backed restoration programs, the Miata has been left in the cold. Mazda aims to change that with the help of a handful of the company’s in-house faithful and its NA Roadster Restore Service.
Given its name, Mazda’s restoration service only handles the first-generation (NA) Mazda Miata MX-5. The O.G. Miata came about after a throw-away conversation about lightweight sports cars, similar to those being built by the Brits at the time, was held by Motor Trend’s Bob Hall and Kenichi Yamamoto and Gai Arai, who were the heads of Research and Development at Mazda. Some years later, and after Hall left Motor Trend for Mazda, the conversation was brought back up and soon birthed what is one of the most beloved sports cars of all time.
The service launched in 2017, but only recently gained momentum. Mazda says Mazda Engineering & Technology, the section of Mazda which performs the restoration and is certified by TÜV Rheinland Japan, takes the spent, tired, and haggard NA Miatas received, and then like other services, strips them down and restores the cars to better-than-factory-fresh. At least, that depends on which portions of the service you choose from are ala carte.
According to a Mazda spokesperson who spoke with The Drive, “The basic menu starts at 2,500,000 yen (including tax), with several options available to ultimately create what amounts to a brand-new car. The basic package includes a new bonnet (or hood) and boot lid (trunk), new front fenders and doors, any minor repairs necessary to other areas of the body, and a full respray. The car is then put back together with new lights, wipers, and a brand new soft-top.”
There are, however, additional restoration services someone can choose, with the spokesperson adding, “Owners could also request an interior restoration (700,000 yen upwards) including new dashboard trim, seat facings and carpeting; an engine and powertrain overhaul (starting at 800,000 yen) including an engine rebuild with several new intake, exhaust and cooling parts changed, and an exchange transmission and driveshaft, and a suspension rebuild that included new suspension parts, bushes, bearings and braking components, with the price starting at 400,000 yen.”
All in, you’re looking at somewhere around 4,400,000 yen or just about $40,000 in today’s exchange rate. That isn’t small potatoes when you consider you could buy a pristine NA Miata here in the United States for just around $10,000.
Each car that exits the service is also treated to an air-conditioning revamp and a set of original 14-inch alloy wheels with Bridgestone SF325 tires. Customers also get a one year, 10,000-kilometer warranty on every new part used to restore the car. But there’s a bunch of unfortunate fine print that will assuredly cause Miata’s acolytes to weep and damn the heavens.
First and foremost, the service is only offered to Japanese customers. There has been talk of expanding the service globally, but the plans for that have yet to be solidified. Further, the only Miatas eligible for the restoration service are the 1.6-liter Roadsters that make up the basic, the Special Package, the V Special, and the J Limited cars. 1.8-liter and M2 cars are not up for the service at this time. Mazda, however, plans to introduce packages for those cars in the near future.
Currently, the technicians of Mazda Engineering & Technology has the capability to finish six Miatas per year with each car taking about two months to finish. The four that have been completed truly look stunning and are in far better form than when they first exited the factory. Customers will also get a chance to meet face-to-face with the technicians and restorers to better help them understand why their car is so important to them and better connects the restorer to the restoration process.
When questioned whether Mazda would consider making such services available to other models, such as the enthusiast favorite RX-7, the Mazda spokesperson told The Drive, “We haven’t announced plans to roll this program out for other models, but the RX-7 would certainly be a fan favorite. Anybody who would like to see that should let us know (social comments, emails, dealers). We’re listening.”
Here’s hoping the service is expanded globally, and remember, “The answer is always Miata.”