The Mazda Miata (also known as the MX-5 in many markets outside of North America) is the most popular sports car of all time.
Across its four distinct generations, the Miata has been lauded for delivering an excellent combination of driving pleasure, affordability and reliability.
Part of what makes the Miata so much fun is its “top down” nature, being a convertible. You can put the roof down, enjoy the sunshine and the feeling of the wind in your hair, and know you are part of a community of owners of perhaps the best value-for-money fun car of all time.
But are all Miatas convertible?
What if you fancy the driving “nature” of one of these cars, but you don’t care for the convertible roof.
In this edition of Car Facts, we are looking at whether or not all Miatas/MX-5s are convertible.
If you’re interested in buying a Miata/MX-5, then go here to read our comprehensive Mazda Miata buyer’s guide. This guide goes into detail on how to find, inspect and purchase your dream Miata/MX-5.
Table of Contents
All Miatas/MX-5s Are Convertible From The Factory*
Yes, all Miatas/MX-5s are convertible. This would stand to reason, as the car was built to be a convertible in the first place!
The vast majority come with a folding cloth/vinyl roof, and some come with a retractable hardtop.
For the purpose of this article, we also consider any retractable hardtop – such as the “power retractable hard top” or PRHT on the NC generation Miata – to also be a convertible as the roof can “convert” when required.
*Okay, Not All Miatas Are Convertible
It would be a lie to say that 100% of Miatas/MX-5s out in the wild are convertible.
There are actually a handful of non-convertible cars that do exist. Let’s look at these in more detailed.
1996 Miata M Coupe Concept
The first of these is the Miata M Coupe Concept from 1996. This was a one-off concept car, developed in the early 1990s and supposedly exhibited at the 1996 New York Auto Show simply because Mazda had nothing else interesting to showcase (although other reports claim the car was put together at short notice, in a matter of mere weeks before the 1996 show – source).
The roof was fibreglass, and not properly incorporated into the chassis, and the only powertrain change was the addition of a Remus exhaust.
Being a one-off concept, you won’t be able to get your hands on this car unless the concept somehow appears at auction one day – and you have a ton of money with which to buy it. To be honest, it probably wouldn’t be amazing to drive anyway, considering that the fibreglass roof isn’t properly incorporated into the chassis.
2003 MX-5 M Coupe JDM
For the second-generation Miata (NB) there was a proper coupe built in very limited numbers for the Japanese Domestic Market (learn more here about the meaning of JDM).
The coupe was launched in 2003, with a total of 179 built – with varying specs/trims available.
Compared with the NA Miata M Coupe Concept, this was a proper car where the roof was steel and is a functional structural member. The coupe carried an extra 10kg/22lbs of weight, but the improved rigidity would make up for this around the bends.
The NB M Coupe was available in four trims, with one of the most desirable being the “Type S” that featured a 1.8 litre engine and six-speed manual transmission – as pictured here. If you’d like to learn more about the different trim levels of the NB MX-5/Miata Coupe, there is some great info on the J-Spec Imports website.
One other potential source of fixed hardtop Miatas is aftermarket modification. Admittedly, we haven’t done a lot of research here, but there are probably some Miatas that have been modified aftermarket by their owners to be proper fixed-top coupes.
If you do find such a vehicle for sale, then we think it would be very wise to pay for an independent, professional inspection to verify the quality of any work undertaken. You don’t want to wind up with some dodgy, unsafe vehicle that might fail a future safety inspection or leave you at risk in the event of an accident.
“But I Saw One With A Hard Top?”
You don’t have to look particularly hard to find garden-variety Miatas/MX-5s with hardtops.
This is not because there has been a sudden influx of genuine coupes, but simply because there has always been an installable and removable hardtop option for the Miata.
These hardtops are popular for a number of reasons, namely:
- Protection from the elements/weather
- Increased chassis rigidity
- Improved security (it’s much harder to break into the hardtop than it is to cut the soft-top on a Miata, which makes the hardtop an appealing option if you’re going to be parking your car on the street regularly)
- The hardtop greatly changes the appearance of the car. While this is purely subjective, many people seem to prefer the look of the hardtop
- Improved resale value
The hardtop option was available from Mazda as an “Original Equipment” item (either at the time of purchase when the original owner bought the car, or as an after-purchase accessory) for the vast majority of Miatas/MX-5s. Some special models weren’t available with a paint-matched hardtop option.
There are aftermarket hardtops available as well, although the quality and durability of these seems to vary greatly depending on what you’re buying. We would recommend trying to secure a genuine Mazda hardtop, with an aftermarket option being a second choice.
While it is very dated in terms of appearance, we found this excellent resource (The Miata Hardtop FAQ) that goes into great detail on the pros and cons of installing a hardtop on your Miata, which hardtops will fit, the required parts and frequently-asked questions.
Just about everything you could want to know is on that guide, so it is well worth checking out if you are considering getting your hands on a hardtop for your Miata.
Conclusion – Are All Miatas/MX-5s Convertible?
Yes, all Miatas are convertible – including the latest generation that offers a folding metal roof on the “RF” variant.
The only exceptions are the 1996 Miata M Coupe Concept (which never made it into full production) and the 2003 MX-5 coupe for the Japanese Domestic Market, of which 179 were produced. These cars are as rare as hen’s teeth, so the chances of one showing up for sale in your area are slim-to-none … you’d probably have more chance of being struck by lightning and winning the lottery on the same day.
Therefore, for all intents and purposes, all Miatas are convertible.
Part of what makes these cars so desirable is the ability to drop the roof and enjoy the summer sun (or the winter cold if you are one of those ‘hardcore’ owners) so the production of a fixed-top variant with no ability to drop the roof would probably not make sense from a financial perspective for Mazda.
The good news is that if you do want to make your Miata more of a hardtop, there are plenty of great hardtop options that you can install. These hardtops are also removable (not as easily as flicking a switch on a retractable hardtop) so you can have the best of both worlds. For example, it’s quite common for a Miata owner to install a hardtop in winter, and then take it off over summer.
Don’t forget to check out our Mazda Miata/MX-5 buyer’s guide for a full history on each generation of the Miata, as well as detailed information on how to find and buy the best possible example of this legendary car.
If you have any questions or queries, then feel free to leave a comment below – it would be great to hear from you.