Mazda is celebrating the 25th birthday of the MX-5 with a special display at the New York motor show.
Kicking off the collection of rare and exclusive cars are the three exact models which made their debut at the Chicago motor show in 1989. With Mazda saying it wanted to reinvent the fun of British sports cars from the 1960s, the original Mazda Miata sold almost 100,000 units in its first year of production. The combination of British sports car fun and Japanese reliability proved to be a hit with customers.
The MX-5 quickly became a versatile platform for tuners, with a range of engine modifications and performance enhancements quickly offered. The Club Racer concept, meanwhile, came with lowered suspension, lower-profile headlights and wider wheel arches to accommodate its 15-inch alloys.
The third car to be shown as part of the original debut trio was originally supposed to take part on the Sports Car Club of America's Escort Endurance racing series, but had to pull out when the team running it was unable to secure sponsorship. Rather than retire, the car was donated to racer Dan Edmunds and became the first ever Miata to compete in motorsport, racking up 6,500 miles. Today, Mazda says more of its cars are raced at the weekend in the US than any other car brand.
Mazda's M-Speedster concept car made its debut in Chicago in 1995, with more aggressive styling and integrated storage for two racing helmets. Power from its 1.8-litre engine was boosted by a supercharger, taking its overall output to 197bhp. In 1996, Mazda showed its M Coupé concept at the New York motor show. While similar to the previous M-Speedster, the M Coupé received a wider stance with new rims and lowered suspension.
Two years later and Mazda was ready to preview the second generation of the Miata with the 1998 model. Part of the design brief given to Mazda's engineers was to find a way to increase the boot space of the original model without compromising its shape. If the continued success of the Miata in second-generation form is anything to go by, they succeeded.
In 2004, Mazda released its Mazdaspeed-badged MX-5, with the model on display here celebrating the 700,000th model built. This was the first time a turbocharged Mazdaspeed model had been sold without the Miata badge, instead the firm chose to use the more global MX-5 name for the North American market. Just 5142 units were made over two years.
Jump to 2011's SEMA trade show in Las Vegas, and Mazda revealed its MX-5 Super20. Thanks to its supercharged engine the Super20 had 247bhp available, as well as special alloy wheels and performance Toyo tyres. The MX-5's standard soft-top roof was also replaced with a hardtop, while the interior was outfitted with special leather seats.
As well as previewing next year's all-new MX-5 by showing a completed chassis at the New York show, Mazda also revealed a new special edition model to celebrate the car's 25th anniversary. The special features an engine upgraded with new hand-selected parts including a new flywheel, connecting rods and pistons.
The company claims this special MX-5's 2.0-litre engine will rev more freely than before, and will have 165bhp on tap. Inside new off-white leather seats feature alongside new logos and stitching.
What are your memories of the Mazda MX-5? Let us know in the comments section below.
Read Autocar's history of the MX-5.
Read more New York motor show news.
Call me a tart, call me whatever you like really, but I've always had a soft spot for the Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet. It's just one of those cars that has always done it for me somehow, and never more so than in Athena poster specification, with the uber rare 930 Flatnose body, plus a ?will it won't it? 3.3-litre turbo engine dangling out over the rear axle.
Until yesterday I'd never driven a Flatnose before, yet I?ve always wondered what they might be like. The one you see above is from 1989 and is one of only nine built. There are now just eight remaining.
Its owner reckons it is worth between £80-100,000. I'd say he might be being a touch conservative. Either way, it's an absolute peach of an example.
Almost everything on it has been restored or replaced within the last few hundred miles. It has the feel of a car that should probably be tucked up in an air conditioned museum to be honest, so shiny was everything above and beneath its bright blue skin. Driving it around the sleepy back lanes of rural Essex, I became acutely aware of its worth.
And I was pleasantly surprised by how rapid it still felt, too, and by how special it seemed generally on the move. People smile at you when they see this car, and that?s not always the case when you?re behind the wheel of a turbocharged Porsche.
As a stint in the new Turbo cab all too clearly proved. Twice I got the slow wrist hand wave in the 991 Turbo cab, and yet on both occasions I?d done nothing other than exist.
Mind you, the new car puts the old one in its place in so many ways to drive that you can almost put up with the antagonism it generates ? because on the road it really is some weapon. Only a touch of shudder on the roughest of surfaces separates it from the coupe turbo dynamically, and that makes it one of the most rounded fast road cars money can buy in 2014.
Even so, were it my money (and it most certainly isn?t, not at this level at any rate) I still think I might plumb for the old timer ultimately. It?s quick enough and looks sensational, albeit in a late 1980s kind of way.
To do it justice one might have to grow a decent size ?tash in order to truly feel comfortable behind the wheel of a car like this. Though that could lead to a different ball game entirely.
The Bentley Continental GT is to become a more focused driver?s car as the firm readies an all-new platform. These photographs, taken at the Nürburgring, show a new, aggressively styled variant thought to be positioned above the Continental GT V8 S.
The photographs show the new model, which is likely to be badged V8 RS, will feature a lower front bumper and revised vent and aerodynamic features, including a large fixed rear wing.
No official information has been revealed, but the new V8 RS is expected to receive a power boost to more than 550bhp, allowing a 0-60mph time in the region of 4.0sec and a near-200mph top speed.
Bentley is understood to be attempting to position itself as a more performance-orientated brand ahead of the Continental GT?s switch to a new platform to be shared with the next-generation Porsche Panamera.
With the switch to the new platform, the car will be natively rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive will be offered as an option, but the driving characteristics will be much improved. The current car, which has engines mounted far ahead of the front wheels, is nose heavy. Shifting the engine backwards and lower in the car will improve weight distribution
Forget King Kong ? in New York this week there?s been something far more interesting exposed to the elements at the top of the Empire State Building.
A bright yellow Ford Mustang convertible was this week taken 1000 feet up onto the observation deck on the 86th floor of New York?s tallest building as part of the Mustang?s 50th anniversary, recreating a stunt first undertaken by Ford in 1965.
As you can imagine, getting it up there is no mean feat. Six weeks of planning were needed, and Ford enlisted the services of Michigan firm DST Industries, the company also responsible for getting the Mustang up the building in 1965.
?The deck is too high to reach with a portable crane from the street, and the spire that towers more than 400 feet above that narrow deck makes helicopter delivery impossible,? says George Samulski, manager of Ford North America design fabrication, on the challenges.
Therefore taking it up in the lifts was the only solution, for which the car had to be cut up into sections as had happened in the 1960s.
In preparation Ford measured all the lifts and doors in the Empire State Building to see if the Mustang could fit. DST worked on two prototype Mustang convertible bodies to see where the cuts needed to be made.
Once the sections were decided, bespoke rolling carts and wooden crates were made for the individual sections to transport them up to the observation deck. DST even made a wooden mock-up of the smallest lift to make sure the crates fitted, and the sections were weighed to check they didn?t go over the weight limit of the freight lift and two passenger lifts the sections were to travel up.
DST would only have a six-hour window between 2am and 8am when the building?s observation deck was closed to the public to get the Mustang up there and assembled, so several practice runs at its headquarters got the process down to a tee.
They succeeded, and the Mustang is up at the top of the Empire State Building now, before DST moves in on Friday morning to reverse the process in the same six-hour window. Impressive, no?
Read more New York motor show news.
Volkswagen has previewed a new concept car to be seen at the Beijing motor show later this week with a series of official sketches.
The New Midsize Coupé Concept is said to be "a four-door coupe the like of which has never been seen before in this vehicle class".
Measuring 1422mm high, 4597mm long and 1838mm wide, the concept sits low with short overhangs at either end and an overall muscular appearance. Its short boot lid and long bonnet emphasises its size, however VW says the concept is shorter than the current Passat and Jetta, although it is wider than either. The concept sits on 20-inch wheels.
The concept's design team has been lead by VW design chief Klaus Bischoff, whose credits include the VW Up city car.
Power for the New Midsize Coupé Concept comes from a 217bhp four-cylinder TSI engine, which VW says allows it to sprint to 62mph in 6.5 seconds with a top speed of 152mph.
Reports suggest the new concept could preview a four-door production car to sit alongside the current Jetta, in the same way as the Passat CC sits alongside the regular Passat.
Volkswagen is also planning to show a new 395bhp Golf R 400 concept in Beijing.
Read more Beijing motor show news.