In today’s world of bloated, content-laden cars, Mazda’s lightweight 2016 MX-5 Miata is something of a revelation. Mazda managed to keep the Miata true to its roots in its most recent redesign, and the carmaker took the weight-saving program even further with a pair of 2015 SEMA concepts.
Mazda says its MX-5 Spyder and MX-5 Speedster recall classic small sports cars from an era where windshields were considered a luxury, and all you needed to do to turn your ride into a race car was paint some numbers on it.
The MX-5 Spyder features a tent-like “bikini top” that appears similar to the one used on the first-generation Porsche Boxster Spyder. It’s probably not very easy to assemble in a hurry, but convenience adds weight. The Spyder wears Mercury Silver paint with a carbon-fiber body kit, grille intake, and tonneau cover, plus special 17-inch alloy wheels.
Aside from the canvas top, driving the MX-5 Spyder could be at least somewhat similar to the experience in a stock Miata. That’s likely not the case with the MX-5 Speedster, which features even more radical modifications. These start with the windshield, which is hacked off and replaced with a low-profile deflector. There are also twin humps behind the headrests, just as on classic, open-topped racers.
The Speedster rides on adjustable suspension that lowers it 30 millimeters compared to a stock Miata, with lightweight 16-inch alloy wheels. There’s also a center-mount exhaust system, and carbon-fiber doors. Keeping the lightweight theme going, the interior is trimmed in Alcantara and carbon fiber. Mazda says the weight shedding cut more than 250 pounds, bringing the Speedster’s weight down to 2,080 pounds.
Mazda didn’t discuss production plans for either car. While they’re a bit impractical, the two Miata concepts aren’t so outlandish that it’s impossible to imagine someone putting one in their garage. With its Boxster Spyder and 911 Speedster limited editions, Porsche has shown that people are willing to pay more for less. Ditto Jaguar and its retro F-Type Project 7.