30th Anniversary Mazda Miata sells out immediately, but is it worth $36,000?

Mazda MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary Edition orange

Do you still think the manual-transmission, minimal-complexity sports car is a losing proposition in today’s automotive market? Then you’ll be surprised to hear that Mazda’s 30th Anniversary Edition Miata sold out within hours of its announcement. That doesn’t mean that it sold out to dealer-stock orders, as is usually the case when a manufacturer announces a “sold out” run. Every single one of the 500 production slots is spoken for by an individual.

Mazda is still offering places on a waiting list to would-be purchasers who missed the boat. The real question for Miata fans is: Should you get on the list and wait for a slot to open, or should you take a different route to roadster nirvana? Let’s take a look at the pricing and value aspects of the 30th Anniversary Miata and examine the alternatives.

Pricing is set at $34,995 for soft-top and $37,595 for RF variants, assuming you want the manual transmission. It’s important to understand that most trackday sanctions consider the RF a soft-top for purpose of rollover-protection rules; as an example, if you can’t pass the infamous head-clearance “broomstick test” at VIR with the RF’s top down, you are not permitted to drive in open-lapping sessions.

There are some aspects of the 30th Anniversary car which cannot be had on any other Miata at any price. The Racing Orange paint, the special trim on the Recaro seats, the RAYS wheels, and the serial plate are all exclusive to this car. All 30th Anniversary Editions will be fitted with Brembo brakes, finished in the same Racing Orange.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary Edition parking garage
Mazda
2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary Edition

Compare that to the price of the mechanically similar 2019 Mazda Miata Grand Touring with GT-S Package. You don’t get RAYS wheels or Brembos, but even with extra-cost exterior paint and the $200 upcharge for a brown roof it still comes in at $31,480 before destination. You’ll also find some room to haggle—up to $1500 in some cases.

What could you do with that $5000 difference? The Flyin’ Miata Wilwood big-brake kit is $939 plus shipping. In my testing at Laguna Seca, these brakes proved measurably superior to the factory Brembo option, particularly in terms of pad-wear consistency. Another $1600 will get you O.Z. Allegerita wheels. These are favored by SCCA competitors for their feather-like weight and surprising durability.

Last but certainly not least, Blackbird Fabworx has the ND-RZ Roll Bar. Painted to match your car for $1395, this rollbar meets SCCA and NASA regulations and is constructed in a manner that is more artwork than craft. Expect to spend at least a grand installing it; the process is both involved and complex.

Add it up, and you have a track-ready ND-generation Miata that matches the 30th Anniversary for features while offering the additional benefit of first-rate rollover protection. Even better, you can buy it right now.

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary Edition fender badge
2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary Edition seat
2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary Edition side profile
Mazda
2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary Edition

Should you skip the line and go right to the head of the 181-horse roadster class? Maybe not. The 30th Anniversary car is almost certain to retain significant value compared to a standard Miata; that’s been true ever since the British Racing Green Special Edition of more than 25 years ago. It will also be quicker and easier to sell.

There’s also the additional gratification of having a special edition sports car, which applies to this variant the same way it applies to a McLaren 675LT or a Ferrari 458 Speciale. It gives you another reason to take the car out to meetups, trackdays, and owners’ club events. Thirty years from now, people will still recognize the 30th Anniversary car on the streets. There’s a value to that which cannot be found on a spreadsheet but which is still very real.

Our recommendation? If you’re patient, get on the waiting list. If you aren’t, pull the trigger now on a Club or Grand Touring with GT-S package. In this case, we’re going to put our money where our mouth is; my wife, owner of an NC-generation MX-5 Cup, an NC MX-5 Club, and an NC MX-5 Sport, is on the list for a 30th Anniversary soft-top manual-transmission car of her own. She’ll be swapping on the Wilwoods, adding Flyin’ Miata’s brilliant Fox suspension, and having Blackbird paint a rollbar in Racing Orange to match. If you want to join her in this relatively exclusive club of owners, the time to act is… now.