Rare R Package: 1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata

It may seem harsh and even a bit controversial, but the reality is that as a concept, Mazda’s MX-5 Miata hardly broke any new ground when it was released. After all, manufacturers across the globe had been producing two-seat roadsters with four-cylinder engines under the hood for decades. However, where Mazda strayed from the accepted path was in their execution. They combined styling reminiscent of the Lotus Elan with a drivetrain that was economical, reliable, and easy to live with as a daily driver. So successful were they that it seemed that many motoring publications and organizations were inventing new awards so that they could hand the trophy to Mazda. Our feature car is a 1994 Miata that is a bit of a rarity. It is 1-of-145 produced by the company featuring the optional R Package and Laguna Blue Metallic paint. It isn’t perfect, but it is a tidy classic that offers the potential for a rewarding motoring experience. It is located in Canal Winchester, Ohio, and is listed for sale here on eBay. While the bidding has reached $7,100, this remains short of the reserve.

I’ve been reflecting on the history of the Miata as I’ve examined these photos, and I’ve been trying to pick a factory shade that looks bad gracing the Mazda’s panels. Honestly, it has me stumped. I can’t come up with an answer on that one. Can you? Our feature car wears Laguna Blue Metallic, which presents well for a vehicle of this age. It isn’t perfect because it has scored a few chips and scratches throughout its life. However, the paint still holds a winning shine, and the flaws are small enough to ignore at present. The panels are as straight as an arrow, and the buyer won’t face the trauma of dealing with rust problems. The original alloy wheels are free from curb strike and staining, while the glass and soft-top have no apparent problems. The owner has added the double roll-bar that is visible in this shot. He stresses that this was a safety precaution and shouldn’t be taken to indicate that the MX-5 may have seen some track activity.

In years past, possessing a small two-seat roadster meant that the owner frequently spent as much time tinkering under the hood as they did behind the wheel. Many of these classics would be considered to be “high maintenance” purchases. Mazda made it a stated aim to ensure that this would not be the case with the MX-5 and assembled a bulletproof collection of mechanical components. This car rolled off the line armed with the 1,840cc DOHC four-cylinder engine that produces 128hp. Those ponies find their way to the road via the rear wheels and a five-speed manual transmission. In standard form, that should make the Miata capable of producing a 16.3-second ¼-mile ET. I used the term “standard form” for a specific reason. The original owner ordered this little Mazda with the R Package, and while it didn’t bring any additional power to the table, it added some worthwhile mechanical upgrades for the buyer’s $1,500 additional outlay over the sticker price. As well as alloy wheels to improve brake cooling, the suspension was treated to Bilstein shocks, stiffer suspension bushings, better springs, stiffer sway bars, and a Torsen limited-slip rear end. A subtle lip front spoiler and a decklid-mounted rear spoiler added some slight aerodynamic improvements, while owners had to learn to live without luxuries like power steering and ABS. These changes were designed to prune pounds away from an already featherweight car and improve handling and stopping abilities. The weight loss program allowed the Miata to shed 40 lbs, and it offered drivers a measurable improvement in grip when the roads became twisting. The owner doesn’t supply any information on this car’s mechanical health, but since it has a genuine 33,000 miles on the clock, it is more than likely that the notoriously long-lived MX-5 should run and drive well.

The Mazda’s interior demonstrates further hallmarks of the R Package. Owners who ticked that box on the Order Form had to be prepared to do without leather upholstery and power windows. They could specify air conditioning, but since the purpose of the R Package was to eliminate weight, it made little sense to undo all of that hard work by slotting a hefty air conditioning system into the vehicle. This interior presents well, with no significant wear or physical damage. The dash and pad are in good order, and there’s no evidence of crumbling plastics. The owner has recently installed a CD player, but he does include the factory stereo in the sale.

By pruning weight from the Miata with the introduction of the R Package, it represented the company’s concerted attempt to take the car back to its roots and to a time when air conditioning, fancy stereos, and power everything was not part of Mazda’s design philosophy. This little car presents well, and I can’t see why it couldn’t serve its next owner well as a daily driver. Is that thought and the promise of improved performance and handling enough to tempt you to submit a bid on this little pearl?



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  1. Paul T Root

    Personally, I don’t like white on any car. I know I’m a minority.

    How about a brown. Remember the 280Z in brown. I seem to remember a Fiat 128 also in brown. A sports car, in brown, just doesn’t seem right.

    This color looks pretty similar to my MGB’s Tahiti blue. Or at least the way I imagine it will look like some day…

  2. Robert Harmon

    Someone had to do it. These cars are great. I have had five including two 1995 M Editions. They will run forever with basic maintenance and every time I drive my 93 LE I comment to my lovely wife “this car is wonderful, everyone should have a Miata.” Affordable and super fun to drive. So excellent.

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