In the Autoblog Garage: 2008 Mazda MX-5 Miata Retractable Hard Top

Just as it appeared that winter was finally drawing to close here in Michigan, one of the definitive summertime cars turned up on our doorstep -- the Mazda MX-5 Miata . Somewhere back in the middle part of the last century, small, lightweight, roadsters flourished with a variety of models available from mostly British manufacturers. Names like MG, Triumph, Austin-Healey and Lotus defined the genre. Unfortunately, a number of factors such as random intermittent windshield wipers, intermittent headlights, intermittent ignition, persistent oil leaks and predisposition for the bodies to convert to iron oxide soured the reputation of these and other car builders. This was followed by the consolidation of the most of the British car industry into British Leyland and then the onset of safety and emissions regulations. By 1980, the classic British sports car had become all but extinct.

Then a strange thing happened. Mazda, always had a reputation as being slightly offbeat (witness its dedication to the Wankel rotary, which exists to this day) introduced a new model dubbed the MX-5 Miata . This compact, rear-drive two-seat roadster bore a strong resemblance to a '60s vintage Lotus Elan. However, unlike the Elan and its compatriots, the Miata started every time you turned the key, didn't leave you drenched when it rained, and didn't leave puddles of oil on your garage floor. In other words, it was a classic British sports car that worked like a modern Japanese car. Read on after the jump to find out how the latest incarnation fares.


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