This year marks the 25th anniversary of the MX-5 Miata, and Mazda plans to celebrate that milestone at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

The Japanese carmaker will display 15 significant Miata models at the show, including concepts, race cars, and production cars. All will tell the story of what has become one of the world's most iconic sports cars.

The MX-5 Miata was launched February 9, 1989 at the Chicago Auto Show. In the vein of classic small sports cars like the Lotus Elan, it was meant to deliver a pure driving experience at an affordable price.

As we learned from car enthusiast and MX-5 owner Jay Leno, the Miata was largely developed in the United States. Mazda executive Bob Hall first suggested the idea of a small sports car to the company brass while working as a journalist, and became a key player in the project after he joined the carmaker.

That first generation Miata--the NA--may not have created an adrenaline overflow with its 1.6-liter, 116 horsepower four-cylinder engine, but its base price of $13,800 (1989 dollars) made it available to a wider range of customers.

That's why Mazda has been able to shift around 900,000 Miatas over three generations. The tiny sports car has remained true to its principles throughout, a remarkable achievement in the ever-changing car business.

Mazda is on the verge of launching the fourth-generation Miata, codenamed ND. This new model was supposed to form the basis for a new Alfa Romeo Spider as well, but Fiat-Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne has reportedly ordered a rethink of that plan.

We won't see the next Miata--or any potential Italian derivative--until next year, as Mazda seems content to celebrate the Miata's past in its 25th year.

The commemorative car display will be unveiled at the 2014 New York Auto Show, which begins April 16. For more Miata nostalgia, check out Mazda's anniversary website.

The three generations of the Mazda MX-5 Miata so far

The three generations of the Mazda MX-5 Miata so far


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