The Mazda Miata was conceived in 1976 by Kenichi Yamamoto, head of R&D at Mazda in , and by then Motor Trend journalist Bob Hall. Each saw it as a direct descendant of small, inexpensive British 2-door roadsters of the 1960s like the Triumph Spitfire, the MG Midget, the Lotus Elan and the Austin-Healy Sprite.
In 1981, when Bob Hall became product planner for Mazda US, he and Yamamoto initiated a design competition between Mazda teams in Tokyo and California for the small sports car. The California team—headed by Tom Matano and including Koichi Hayashi—won the competition and worked on the final design, following the lines of the Lotus Elan, after final Mazda approval in 1986.
Mazda Miata was introduced at the February Chicago Auto Show in 1989 with a list price of $13,800. The same design appeared in Japan as the Eunos Roadster, without the Mazda name.
The Miata was revised in 2nd and 3rd generations in 1998 and 2006, and has won over 150 awards in its history, with sales totaling 373,774 in the U.S, and 735,813 globally.