Basement Tour – M Coupe & NB Prototype

The Mazda Basement Series

Click the links above to go straight to a particular tour blog.


M Coupe

M Coupe – click to view larger

At last, here’s the final post in the Mazda Basement Tour. This one is separate from the rest of the Miatas simply because I took SO many pix of these two cars.

But before I get to them, one tiny detour. There were some NDs in the Mazda lobby that deserve to be shown.


Ultralight – click to view larger

These are two concept cars created for SEMA – the MX-5 Speedster and MX-5 Spyder. Both are ultralight with as much stuff removed as possible.

The Speedster concept removed a bit more than the Spyder did. They got the car down 250 lbs below the standard offering. That should put it around 2050 lbs, but I believe we were told it was in the high 1900s when they were finished.

They removed everything possible including the windshield washer system. No windshield? No washer needed.

The Spyder

The Spyder – click to view larger

Factory Bikini top

Factory Bikini top – click to view larger

Retro ND goodness

Retro ND goodness – click to view larger

The Spyder really appealed to me, so I took more pix of it. This one was done as a sort of 1950s retro throwback (which is close to a direct quote). Leather interior with retro rivets, lightweight bikini top, and other such mods. Like the NC bikini in the basement, this one also has a full fiberglass shell underneath the canvas.

Since they’ve made this concept top a few times I wonder how close we are to seeing a factory option? That would be pretty sweet.

Anyways, that’s enough of a wait. Back to the Basement where the M Coupe waits.

Hello Beautiful

Hello Beautiful – click to view larger

This is the second hardtop prototype Mazda made – the M Coupe of 1996. They did something similar in 1992, but I could only find a single photo of it. This M Coupe is the surviving NA hardtop.

And it’s a beauty.

Airplane shot

Airplane shot – click to view larger

Back quarter

Back quarter – click to view larger

Even if it wasn’t a coupe, this car would be striking for the paint. It’s an amazing shade of yellow. Nicely desaturated with some pearl flake added for sparkle. It’s an incredible color. I wish I could have seen it in the sun.

The body lines flow amazingly well. With the exception of a few rough panel edges, it’s perfect. Ready for production. The proportions are excellent and the top looks right. Sharka’s hardtop suddenly seems like a clunky afterthought.

More hardtop angles.

More hardtop angles. – click to view larger

FD glass

FD glass – click to view larger

Rear quarters

Rear quarters – click to view larger

I’m 99% sure that’s FD rear glass on this car. Only the tiny rear quarters are unique to the car. The back window is from the 90s parts bin.

It works SO well. The trunk lid is a bit shorter, but the trunk extends as far back as it does in any other NA. The fuel lid needed morphed a bit to still function with the new top.

It’s just so perfect. Even the 3rd eye brake light looks right.

Makes me wanna challenge my favorite local body shop.

M Coupe interior

M Coupe interior – click to view larger


Headliner – click to view larger

Rear package tray

Rear package tray – click to view larger

The interior is fully finished. It was not easy to see or photograph, but I did my best.

The rear deck extends farther back than a standard NA. There’s a huge package tray. The engineers added this little chrome fence to keep packages from flying forward.

There’s a bit of a beam visible down the center of the top. Stiffening? Perhaps evidence of some integrated roll structure between the B pillars with a forward brace to connect the windshield?

I want one. And I’m guessing that MOST Miata fans reading this would agree. There’s space in the world for hardtop non-convertible Miatas too!

And now for something different.


Different – click to view larger

THAT is the 1998 NB concept. The “only 1998 Miata in the world.”

And it’s… really odd.

That's quite a tail light.

That’s quite a tail light. – click to view larger

The tail lights are somehow even stranger than the headlights. There’s a lot of… something going on here. Maybe some MR-Spyder? Though that car came along later.

This whole car is a design exercise by Mazda to build the NB. It was designed to be an evolution of the NA. And this one still has a whole lot of NA left in it.

NA8 interior

NA8 interior – click to view larger

The NB Concept has a full NA8 interior. And more than that, it’s a 94-95 interior. The 96-97 had a black hazard button and different door panels. And we can just ignore that double-fold sun visor.

I wonder what year this car ACTUALLY is? I’d guess it was a 95 based on the door pull.

Curved door

Curved door – click to view larger

Straight door

Straight door – click to view larger

More strangeness – the driver’s side door has the NB curve at the bottom. The passenger has the standard square door bottom found on every NA. And both doors have (I think) the NA6 manual mirrors.

Strange? Yup. But super cool. I could have stood picking around this car for another half hour and still found strange bits tacked on.

I needed a full day down there with studio lights and someone to take dictation while our tour guide fed out the details.

Goodbye Basement

Goodbye Basement – click to view larger

Really, I can’t believe I had this opportunity. It still feels dreamlike.

Visiting the Mazda R&D Basement? Something I never dreamed I’d do.

Being allowed to take AND share photos of the basement? They rarely allow this. I’m still amazed.

Sometimes the stars line up and wonderful things happen. This was one of those times.

Thanks for the tour Jacob!!! Thanks for inviting me Darryl!!! And thank you for putting me up and hanging out Pete!!!

The Mazda Basement Series

Click the links above to go straight to a particular tour blog.

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  • Klaus says:

    To all four posts just one word: envy. Pure envy. But really well deserved from where I’m standing, that’s obvious every time I take the drivers seat in Speedy Gonzales and get to look at those absolutely gorgeous gauges. Hats off for sharing your experience with us. What I love most about it is the fact you not only present great cars with a few facts but also sharing your feelings, letting us kind of participate on your personal experience. Thank you!

  • GT-Alex says:

    Honestly, if the NA had been sold as a coupe, that’s what I would have bought. This also looks better than the current fastbacks hardtops offering imho.

  • Hans says:

    Awesome four posts! This was interesting to read/look at. I think there are more 1998 NB’s than the strange concept one though 😉
    They are just not in the US but quite a few here in the Netherlands 😀
    Anyways your blog is really cool, i check this site almost every day for a new blog post hahaha.

    • revlimiter says:

      HA! Yeah. The non-US markets got 1998 Miatas. Many of them wear my parts.

      I still remember the first order from one. I’d never heard of a 1998 model. That was like 4 years ago.

  • Brad says:

    Makes me wonder if Mazda was afraid of cannibalizing sales of the FD if they had put the Miata coupe into production…

    Neat looking car, but that trunk has an odd panel alignment where it meets the rear window, but I’m sure that would have been smoothed out in a production version.

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