1990 Mazda Miata

DOHC 1.6-Liter, inline four-cylinder, 116 horsepower
5-speed manual
Mazda’s 1990 Miata evoked the spirit and cribbed many styling cues of the British and Italian two-seat sports convertibles popular in the 1950s and 1960s.

But the best part is that it combined electronic fuel-injection and electronic ignition with many proven components from the Mazda parts bins. The new car possessed reliability of which owners of the older sports cars could only dream, while bettering them in performance and handling. When introduced during the summer of 1989, Miata pricing started at an affordable $13,500.

The 1.6-liter twin-cam engine was derived from the heavier and less powerful 323 power unit and produces 116 horsepower. Weighing under 2,200 pounds, the modest power is able to move the car from 0 to 60mph in 9.1 seconds. Thanks to its fully independent suspension and unibody construction, handling is nimble and the ride remains relatively compliant.

So many Miatas were used hard on and off the track that it’s hard to find one in good to excellent original condition. Amazingly, this first-year Miata wears its original white paint and has never been restored.

There were faster cars and those with higher handling limits, but the Miata did everything well, prompting more than a few people to call it: “the best British sports car ever.”