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Tuesday
Apr192011

Sports cars are supposed to be red!

A story that my buddy VBob related to me back in the early '90s:  He was at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races and it was the first year that Mazda was making a big push to populate the infield with a bunch of their new sports car, the Miata.  It had been prearranged that all of the Miata owners would meet outside the gates to Laguna Seca Raceway, and then all drive to the infield in parade style.  VBob was standing on a hill inside the track as this long line of over 300 Miatas snaked into the infield.  Standing near VBob, also watching the long procession of jellybean-colored cars, were a couple of MG owners.  VBob overheard a bit of their conversation.  As best I remember VBob's telling, the conversation went something like this:  MG owner #1 said, "They supposedly don't leak oil or have electrical problems.  So what do you think the owners talk about?"  To which MG owner #2 replied, "The color of their car?"

Bingo!  Miata owners have been debating car color since the car was introduced.

Really, though, there's nothing to debate.  Sports cars are supposed to be red.  Sure, I'll take a Miata in almost any color versus some lesser car in red.  The Miata is too much fun to drive to let car color stop me from enjoying the experience.  But sports cars are supposed to be red.  This is a known fact.  Even those that choose to drive a yellow one or blue one are doing it just to be different.  They're making a statement that they are an individual.  That they make their own decisions, instead of following the herd.  But deep down inside, even they know sports cars are supposed to be red.  If they won the lottery tomorrow and found themselves shopping for a Ferrari, they'd buy a red one.

When Mazda introduced the Miata in 1989, it was available in just three colors.  Classic Red, Crystal White, and Mariner Blue.  For the first several years, over 70% of the Miatas sold were red. Granted, that had a lot to do with Mazda's production numbers.  Mazda made more red ones because they knew... sports cars are supposed to be red.   But Mazda's decision was also influenced by the demand.  The Miata-hungry public wanted red ones.  The public knew.

Fortunately, Mazda picked the correct shade of red from the start.  Classic Red is the perfect red for a sports car.  Not too purple and not too orange.  A nice, deep, paint-is-two-inches-thick red.  Then, in 2004, Mazda got it right again with the Velocity Red on the Mazdaspeed Miata.  Velocity Red is, basically, an ever-so-slightly deeper Classic Red plus metal flake.  It's a gorgeous color for a sports car.  Both Classic Red and Velocity Red are true sports car colors.  Sadly, even Mazda eventually screwed up sports car red.

For 2006, when Mazda released the redesigned Miata, they replaced Classic Red with True Red.  True Red is a sad example of sports car red.  True Red is too orange.  Next to Classic Red or Velocity Red, a True Red Miata looks like a pumpkin.  The True Red models apparently don''t sell all that well, either.  I see very few of them on the road.  The much darker Copper Red is more popular.  You'd think Mazda would figure it out and bring back Classic Red.

There are many owners of early Miatas that might be swayed to upgrade to a newer model if Mazda was offering a proper shade of red for their uber-popular sports car.  Some of these older models are getting long in the tooth.  It seems to me that Mazda is missing out on some sales.  Yet, Mazda keeps going completely in the wrong direction by offering different shades of blue.  That's certainly not the answer.  As we all know, sports cars are supposed to be red!

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Reader Comments (10)

Aw, c'mon. ITALIAN sports cars are supposed to be red. French sports cars should be blue, Belgian sports cars should be yellow, British sports cars should be green, American sports cars are correct in white and blue, and so forth.

My little Mazda jelly bean was made in Japan, which is geographically close to Indochina, which was once colonized by the French. Therefore, my Miata is properly rendered in French racing blue.

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVoodoo Bob

Speak for yourself kimo sabe! I love my true red and wouldn't have bought the car if it was classic red.

Cheers, Phil Daoust 2008 true red and proud of it!!

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhil Daoust

When I went shopping for my first Miata back in '97 I wanted anything EXCEPT red. Every Miata I saw on the road was red! So I bought a black one.

By 2000 when I went shopping for my *new* Miata I had learned that it had to be red (for all the reasons that Mark states). Now with the addition of my Pollo Rampante Voodoo shield to each of my front fenders, folks are constantly asking me "is this a new Ferrari?"

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Okay, I gotta agree with the red concept. My first Miata was a '90 Brilliant Black/tan, which was extremely cool for the first five minutes after it was washed. That was followed by a 2000 Silver/tan, which I loved as well. However, after getting out of the "Miata obsession" for a few years, I realized I'd made a mistake and bought what? A Classic Red/tan 2001 of course!

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Spurlock

I started out with a white Miata, because when I decided I wanted one it was via a lease, and to take advantage of the phenomenal lease terms one had to get a very stripped (basic) Miata: cloth seats, no A/C, steel wheels, 5-speed, no cruise control, open differential. In time I put in: leather seats, A/C, went through a couple of iterations of wheels, added cruise control, and put in Torsen diff. I grew to like my white. When I destroyed it, I purchased a British Racing Green model with all the fancy amenities already on board, To this day it's the only Miata with the word "Racing" attached to it. Enough said.

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRainer

Maybe Mazda was making a statement about their penchant for blue colors when they named the first NC blue 'Winning Blue'?

It didn't win for long. It was only available for a single model year (2006).

April 19, 2011 | Registered CommenterMark

I believe as you do Mark, a Sports car should be Red! That is why Every Sports Car Company shows off their pure sports car pride with a RED car EVERY year, in Every magazine!

Yes, you see an OFF colored sports car, let's say Yellow for example, that's to let buyers know they offer other colors and that's about it! The auto makers know Sports Cars are Red! And that's that!!!

April 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRCRRRED

I agree with VBob, Red Italians, Green Brits, etc. When I think of Japanese race cars I think of white, but do they have a traditional color? So does it really mater what color your Miata is, probably not, just pick one that compliments the design and stirs your passion. No doubt the right red looks great, but so do a lot of other colors.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, this is the car that I'd have in the garage by sundown:

http://www.bradspictures.com/cars/22254/yellow+ferrari+275+gtb.html

This one would be parked next to it:

http://www.autohotest.com/4828/2012-ferrari-458-italia-spyder-review/2012-ferrari-458-italia-spyder-yellow/

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJon Martinez

I always wanted a British Racing Green Miata but when I cam across a pristine example of a 10 year old Classic Red I knew I found my mid life crisis. 8 years later it is looking a tad faded so it is in the shop as we speak getting freshened up. My only question was do i leave it as Classic Red or make it Velocity Red. By this time next week I will have the only 1992 Miata in town that is Velocity Red. I think I chose wisely. I think...

June 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDave

I'm hoping that Mazda will fix the color errors along with the rest of the "fixes" when the ND (4th generation) car is announced on September 3rd. An ideal fix would be to offer the ND Miata in some version of their current "Soul RED." Or... they could really blow us all away with Candy Apple Red. Now that would be awesome! That alone might be enough to make me trade my '01 Classic Red for a '16 MX-5.

August 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTom T.

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