Part of the Family Tree

20140511_143815I drove to work this morning in a Triumph TR4A (which is a near perfect ride for a trip down the Pacific Coast Highway) but due to an electrical gremlin found myself coming back in a bright red Mazda Miata (NC) borrowed from the Moss stable. Many automotive pundits have christened the Miata as the perfect British sports car and during the development process of the original car its designers surrounded themselves with a variety of classic British sports cars to use as inspiration for the diminutive roadster.  Indeed, Bob Hall (who at the time was writing for Motor Trend) explained the brief for the car to the decision makers in Hiroshima by complaining that the “simple, bugs-in-the-teeth, wind-in-the-hair, classically-British sports car doesn’t exist any more.” Design chief Tom Matano would look at the Spitifire, MGA, MGB, TR3 and Lotus Elan when trying to get a sense of the right bullseye to aim for.

20140512_173659The plaudits earned by the Miata over the years have often referred to its status as the car that the British automotive industry should have built and there might be some truth to that thought.

I prefer to believe, instead, that the Miata is the car that either MG or Triumph would have built had labor problems – which begat quality control issues that led to poor sales – not occurred. In its essential DNA (and in the way that it drives) the Miata is every bit a modern interpretation of the Spitfire, MGB or Lotus Elan begat by a corporate entity and employees who collectively understood that quality, reliability and driving enjoyment are not mutually exclusive manufacturing principles for an affordable sports car.

In fact, the Miata is the evolutionary (rather than just the spiritual) descendant of the classic British roadster and – having usurped the MGB’s mantle as the world’s best selling sports car – it has more than proven its legitimacy as a “real” sports car. I have always been curious of the percentage of LBC owners that also have a Miata in their garage (and suspect that the number is significant) as it is a roadster that can be driven any day, any place and at any time. Maybe the next time your MG, TR or Big Healey is out on a sunny weekend day and you pass a Miata going the other direction you should take a moment to smile and wave as it goes by. After all, the car going by could very well be related in more ways than one to the one that leaks oil in your driveway.



'Part of the Family Tree' have 4 comments

  1. May 13, 2014 @ 6:10 am Danny Espinoza

    I am one of those owners that have both cars in my stable. 50th Anniversary 75′ MG Midget and M Edition 95′ Miata. Love them both and enjoy them as much as possible. Thanks to living in San Diego, I get to do it quite often. Also love the fact that I could order parts from one awesome sorce, Thank you Moss Motors.


    • May 13, 2014 @ 10:58 am nikasj

      I think the perfect stable includes both an LBC and a Miata as they are so elementally similar yet different enough to stimulate different parts of the brain and soul.


  2. May 14, 2014 @ 7:54 am RG

    Another thing they have in common, one of the first “mechanical repair” parts we offered for the NA Miatas was a replacement cam cover seal. They tended to dry out and crack, causing (gulp) oil leaks.


  3. July 1, 2014 @ 7:01 am Mark C

    I have a ’73 TR6. Our youngest oin just graduated from high school and my wife who has been driving minivans for the last dozen years or so wanted something smaller. I just found her a beautiful 2012 MX5 Touring. She loves it and we’re enjoying having the best of both worlds in roadsters.


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