MYTH BUSTER

De­bunk­ing the most com­mon old wives’ tales

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - MAZDA MX-5

1 IT WAS JA­PAN’S FIRST SPORTS CAR

We can be a lit­tle smug about our pop­u­lar sports car lead­er­ship. And with good rea­son. Yet Ja­pan had al­ready pro­duced four in­ter­est­ing and at­tain­able two-seaters be­fore the MX-5. First came the Dat­sun Fair­lady 1500 and Honda S500 in 1963, fol­lowed soon af­ter by the Toy­ota Sports 800. Then in the 1980s – just af­ter MG and Tri­umph had faded away – Toy­ota brought us the mid-en­gined MR2. So the MX-5 was car­ry­ing on a na­tional tra­di­tion, not start­ing one.

2 IT WAS DE­SIGNED IN AMER­ICA

Mazda opened a styling stu­dio in Cal­i­for­nia in the early 1980s, and young de­sign­ers there soon worked up ideas and de­signs for a car that could step in where the old Bri­tish mod­els had left off. How­ever, the first run­ning pro­to­type was ac­tu­ally made in Wor­thing, West Sus­sex, by International Au­to­mo­tive De­sign (IAD). What’s more, the UK com­pany built a se­ries of five more pro­to­types used for ev­ery part of the lit­tle Mazda’s devel­op­ment, in­clud­ing crash test­ing. IAD ef­fec­tively took the Cal­i­for­nian de­signs and turned them into a car ready to man­u­fac­ture in Ja­pan.

3 IT’S TOUGHER THAN AN MGB

Re­plac­ing rusty metal on an MG or a Tri­umph is al­most a given, but you’d imag­ine that the MX-5 MkI is com­par­a­tively im­mune to rot given that its all-steel pan­els were fully gal­vanised when new. Not true – it can rot away like any­thing else. The wa­ter drain tubes in front of the rear wheels get blocked and mois­ture gets fed into the sills, mak­ing this a com­mon rust in­cu­ba­tor. Other trou­ble­some ar­eas in­clude the door jambs, front whee­larches and wind­screen sur­round. In fact, a MkI can har­bour al­most as much brown ter­ror as an MGB. Giles Chap­man

MX-5 was de­signed in the US, but pro­to­types were made in the UK.

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