Generations of Happiness


Generations of happiness

As it celebrates its 35th birthday, the Mazda MX-5 continues to build passionate, diverse communities in all four corners of the world, including leafy England…

Since its 1989 debut, the Mazda MX-5 [Miata] has carved out a unique niche in the history of automotive design. Not just a best-selling roadster with well over a million units sold worldwide, the MX-5 has become a catalyst for community and camaraderie.

From South Africa’s Western Cape MX-5 club to the deserts of Nevada, where the ‘Miata Owners of Vegas’ roam, varieties of the MX-5’s community spirit can be seen across the world. At its simplest, these communities allow members to talk about their love of the MX-5 (a ‘Miata’ to many, “the Five” to others), exchange upkeep and engineering tips, and connect with like-minded enthusiasts. At a deeper level, these clubs provide members and attendees with new experiences, broadened horizons and create genuine, emotional connections with people whom, without the club or the car, they’d have never met.

“It’s about the car and the people.”


One such example is the UK-based MX-5 Owner’s Club. With members as young as 19-years-old and from all walks of life, it’s one of the largest MX-5 owners and enthusiast communities on the planet: home to over 7000 members and 34 individual area clubs. The sense of community is everywhere. Each group hosts meet-ups, drive-outs and social occasions ranging from catching up in restaurants to MX-5-only track days, to anniversary parades at the home of British Motorsport, Silverstone.

It’s why, a few minutes before nine o’clock on a chilly English spring morning, I’ve decided to join the club for a drive-out in rural Warwickshire. As I wait in the shadow of the 16th-century Walton Hall, the birds sing, dew forms on the grass against the morning sun and centuries-old chestnut trees sway with the breeze that floats across the fields. Once the clock strikes nine, however, the distinctive hum of a Mazda engine announces the first arrival of the club.

“The club breaks down barriers.”


Adam Gill, an area co-ordinator for the MX-5 OC’s North Thames area, is the first to greet me. “The experiences and the people that I’ve encountered this last 10 years of my life have shaped not only my ambitions but strengthened my wellbeing and my mental health,” he says. “There is nothing more important to me than the opportunity to talk about what the MX-5 means to me.”

One of the more local members of the MX-5 OC is Rhys Mainwaring, who regularly hosts meets throughout the West Midlands. “The MX-5 is designed for the enjoyment of being out in a two-seater, well-handling car,” he agrees, behind the wheel of his third-generation MX-5. “You can see this spirit in the owners.”

Behind them, an impressive sight is unfolding, as two limited edition first-generation MX-5s — Berkeley* and Dakar* editions, each one of 400 ever produced — a top-spec fourth-generation MX-5 and a Kuro* special edition each take their position in this impressive assembly: a fraction of the OC’s total reach. Fittingly, the chilly morning air hasn’t stopped some hardy drivers from taking the top down for a blast of spring air.

After a morning spent exploring rural England, the club makes a quick stop at Gilks’ Garage Café—itself a hotspot for classic cars and motoring enthusiasts.

“Throughout my adult life, the MX-5 and the people that I’ve met through it have been strong and stable relationships,” continues Gill, who bought his first MX-5 at 19-years-old, before joining the MX-5 OC shortly after. “I’ve found myself in a like-minded group of people, where anyone you meet will make you feel welcome.”

As the engines go quiet, the scene quickly becomes a regular meet-up between close friends, or a touching family reunion. Here, there’s no shortage of smiles, hugs, and cheerful greetings. Against the backdrop of the manor, conversation naturally turns to the purpose of this meet-up in this pocket of rural England: to celebrate the forthcoming 35th anniversary of the Mazda MX-5, the world’s most-loved two-seater roadster.

“It’s not just a product, it’s an experience.”


While the members orbit each other’s vehicles and share anecdotes from their morning drive, it’s clear to see that this collective is enthusiastic about new members joining the ranks. A member directly responsible for this is 19-year-old Courtney Ward, the new (and visibly proud) owner of the aforementioned Berkeley edition MX-5. Ward plays an important ambassadorial role within the club, helping to bring a younger, more digitally present audience to this community. “It’s all about inclusivity and bringing people together,” she says, having attended meet-ups for over a decade with her father, and now beginning to increase club presence across platforms including Instagram and TikTok. “I’ve grown up with the club,” she says. “We’re all here because we love MX-5s. They’re like a second family to me.”

Here, all are welcome — regardless of background, gender and driving experience. “The club breaks down barriers,” Ward confirms, the perfect example of the club’s joyful spirit. “The people stay, the relationships stay, and so does the willingness to help each other. It holds the club together.”

Another benefit, Ward explains, is the breadth of engineering expertise found across the clubs—online and offline. “There’s always somebody there to help you,” she says. Mainwaring, also an area co-ordinator in the West Midlands, agrees. “Mazda owners are always happy to help with engineering,” he confirms. “It’s not about who’s got the most BHP, or who’s got the most lowered car or the darkest windows, but they’re always there to help out, to fix things, and to give guidance. It’s about the car and the people.”

With the MX-5s chomping at the bit to cruise on blissful stretches of open road, Ward shares a final thought on what makes this club so special before firing up her Berkeley MX-5 and pointing it toward Warwickshire’s rolling hills. “Having a space where I’ve never felt I couldn’t do something, or I’m not included is just unlike anything else,” she says, as Adam shares a similar sentiment on the enduring legacy of the MX-5. “It’s not just a product,” he says. “It’s an experience.” Long may it reign.

Words Ed Cooper / Images Rama Knight

*Berkeley, Dakar and Kuro are original UK grade names.