I am so thankful for Mazda Philippines’ invitation to witness the historic 30th Anniversary celebration of 4-generations of the MX-5 (Miata) Roadster at the hallowed proving grounds at Miyoshi, Hiroshima, Japan. In my perspective, the celebration was three-fold; one for the Mazda Principal, the second was to pay homage and respect to the close to 300,000 cumulative innocent victims of the August 6, 1945 bombing of the city of Hiroshima by a modified Allied USAF B-29 that dropped a uranium gun-type bomb (“Little Boy”) with the second plutonium implosion bomb (“Fat Man”) dropped three days later on Nagasaki that effectively ended the Pacific War campaign. And third, that the Mazda MX-5 played a pivotal role in the birth of C! Magazine in early 2001.
Hiroshima is the home of Mazda so it was a fresh experience for me to visit the factory and the supporting museum. Most of the Philippine media that came on the trip had been to both the factory and the museum on a number of occasions. A few of them had previous actual driving experiences on the Miyoshi Proving Grounds as well on multiple Mazda vehicles. Mazda has several proving grounds in Japan and North America to test their vehicles under full practical measures.
The Miyoshi Proving Grounds though is particularly special to the MX-5 (also known as the Miata in North America) Roadster as it is the birthplace for the model. It is Mazda’s primary testing facility that includes a banked high-speed track good for up to 230 km/h, a wind tunnel, crash test facilities, elaborate durability and surface testing to represent the most popular markets that Mazda sells at and more. It covers 1,667,000 square meters (412 acres) of land and has been used extensively since it opened in June, 1965.
Our small Philippine media contingent jointly supported the vibrant 102-member-strong Miata Club of the Philippines participants who came for the historic event that had 2,300 MX-5’s in a myriad of standard and bespoke varieties on the facility. MCP/MSCC member Eddie Salonga, the consummate gentlemen, on behalf of the club, gave a wonderful speech to the festive crowd. Members from many clubs exchanged more than pleasantries and good tidings, it was heart-warming to witness so much universal bliss.
I have never seen so many cars of a single model in one place in my life, it was amazing! You could feel the positive energy of all the different clubs from all over the world sharing the passion and love for the endearing Roadster that has given so many people life-defining experiences and joy. Aside from the Japanese, MCP had the largest single club members in attendance. Apparently, the Philippines is the largest market for the Mazda MX-5 in Southeast Asia.
There is no denying that the Mazda MX-5 is the finest, most enjoyable, and most universally attainable high-performance roadster on Earth. And it just keeps getting better and more desirable without orphaning its core values. Yes, even the old car from back in 1989 can still generate driving thrills comparable to sportscars costing three times its value! An additional treat for us was that we got to permanently sign our names on the anniversary car as well as meet the important men who helped create the icon from the 1st-generation chief designer Syunji Tanaka to the Mazda Motor Corporation Roadster Ambassador Nobuhiro Yamamoto. The 5th-generation MX-5’s Program Manager Shigeki Saito certainly has an uphill challenge ahead of him, but I’m confident that the result will be only continued greatness. In a time when most car manufacturers are embracing modern challenges by making their products more of an appliance, I’m glad to see that some still appreciate the tangible freedoms and unique joie-de-vivre that make our lives behind the steering wheel even more rewarding.