The most consistent proportions with the most variable design theme
Is there a car design that has been so consistently distinct in its type over the decades, yet so varied in its form? We don’t think so.
The first MX-5, or Miata, debuted 30 years ago, the same year Porsche introduced the 964 version of the 911. Today’s 911 shares very much the same design theme of the 964 but has very different proportions; its footprint is a massive 16% larger (the current Mercedes S-class has a footprint only 12% bigger than the CLA — its smallest sedan sibling, three class sizes beneath!). It also has a much higher tail and faster screens; its a very different type of car to the cherubic early air-cooled 911s. Meanwhile the MX-5 has grown less than 3% in footprint over thirty years, it has preserved the same hood to cabin to trunk proportions, and exactly the same height today as the 1989 original. It is fundamentally the same type of car as the original MX-5.
Yet, unlike each generation of 911, the MX-5 design theme has changed a lot with each generation (even if the Mk3 riffed off the Mk1) so that now its forms and graphics are manifestly different to the original; gone is the rounded Lotus Elan-like cute aesthetic, in its place are cleaved dart-like volumes and shapes.
So the MX-5 is a design uniquely true to its lineage in type and proportion, not in its form and graphics and details — unlike other evolutionary designs such as the 911. And, arguably, it is all the more authentic because of it.