He penned the NA Miata.
The Mazda MX-5 is the best-selling sports car of all time.
The NA is one of the most enjoyable cars to drive of all time.
Few cars are as universally loved as the Mazda Miata. Tanaka referred to it as a “Swinging Time Machine” meaning it was a symbol of freedom achieved through a connection between the driver and the environment. Sadly, earlier this month, Shunji Tanaka passed away.
What he created will never die, however. As a testament to his vision, he fully disapproved of the original design for the Miata. The first concept was designed in California and when it got to Tanaka, he immediately dismissed it as too Americanized according to CarBuzz.
He was right to revamp the Mazda Roadster. So right in fact that it became an instant hit. Beyond the seductive and simple look, the Miata was affordable, handled incredibly, and turned out to be extremely reliable. More than 430,000 NAs were sold in the eight years it was produced.
The Mazda MX-5 continues to be regarded as one of the best-driving most rewarding sports cars on the road today. We’ve certainly never met one we did not like and that includes the NC. If it hadn’t been for Tanaka’s styling, it’s possible that the Miata would not have become the icon it is today.