CHICAGO — I must imagine the 1989 Chicago Auto Show was something special because not only did Mazda reveal its original Miata then, but Acura also showed off its NSX supercar for the first time.
Thus, both automakers are marking 30 years at this year’s Chicago Auto Show, celebrating heritage models as well as showing off the current generation of cars.
Let’s take a quick look at these halo cars.
Though Acura showed off the thinly veiled NSX concept at the 1989 show, it didn’t go into production until 1991. So, Acura isn’t celebrating with a 30th anniversary edition just yet, but it is showing off an original NSX in the same hue of red as the 2019 model.
Back when it was conceived, the NSX was supposed to come with a 4-cylinder engine. But at the last minute, engineers upgraded it to a V-6 that delivered 270 horsepower. While that may not seem like a lot of power today, at the time it measured up well against the European exotics.
Plus, the cockpit was designed to be ergonomic, and road manners were relatively gentle – and that was a novelty among supercars of the day.
Fast forward to 2019, and the NSX, now in its second generation, gets a mild refresh with grippier tires and chassis adjustments.
The current NSX is equipped with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine and 3 electric motors that, combined, deliver 573 horsepower and 476 pound-feet of torque.
While the original NSX was priced at about $60K, today’s NSX is priced just under $160K.
The original intention of the Mazda Miata was to pay homage to the compact two-seat European roadsters from the ’50s and ’60s – making it lightweight and fun to drive.
The 1989 Miata came equipped with a 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder engine that delivered 116 horsepower. In contrast, today’s MX-5 Miata is equipped with a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine that delivers 181 horsepower.
After more than 1 million units sold during the last 30 years, the Miata is not only a cult classic but also the best-selling two-seater of all time.
To commemorate its 30th birthday, Mazda introduced the 30th Anniversary Edition at this year’s show. In addition to the unique Racing Orange paint, this model will get orange brake calipers, Recaro seats, interior orange accents and 30th Anniversary badging.
Sadly, however, if you wanted to buy one of these special-edition models, they’re already sold out. Only 500 vehicles were made available to the American market, and they went on sale at noon on Thursday and were sold out by 6 p.m. that same day.
The Bottom Line
Both Acura and Mazda prove that age is merely a state of mind. These two halo cars introduced at the same show have stood the test of time and most definitely improved with age.