As far as I know there are only two Mazda Miatas in the world with the wheels that are on my 1994 Mazda Miata. But I didn’t know that when I purchased it four months ago. I thought that they might be knock-off wheels. I finally got to the bottom of this, but it took months of research. And here’s the story of how I found out that my Mazda Miata had the rarest Miata wheels in the world!
It all started while I was traveling North on Route 95 heading to Cape May, N.J. to visit my parents. I received a phone call from a woman named Helen whom I had emailed earlier that day about a white 1994 Mazda Miata that was listed on Craigslist for $3,900. It had 108,000 miles, no rust, two owners, and seemed to be in great condition. I had begun to search Mazda Miatas in New Jersey, because every car that I wanted to buy in Washington, D.C., was always sold within a day of being posted.
I arrived in Cape May on Friday evening, and convinced my Dad that we needed to go take a look at this Mazda that’s “nearby.” I picked my Dad up from the ferry terminal after he finished his night shift at the dock. Still tired, and in need of some energy after 10 hours of hard labor at the dock, he fortified himself on WaWa pretzels and coffee. Helen had given us an address that obviously wasn’t her home, and I told her I’d be arriving with my Dad. After an hour drive from the Cape May Ferry Terminal we arrived at a nondescript gas station in South Jersey. There was the white 1994 Mazda Miata, along with Helen and her husband.
My Dad and I checked out the car, everything seemed to be in a good running order. Helen turned out to be a fantastic owner, who purchased the car used in 1994. She was the second owner and had records for the service history of the car. The wheels popped out to me as wheels I’ve never seen before on a Miata. And I asked Helen if they were aftermarket, and she swore up and down that they had been on the car for the past twenty years. I was skeptical though, because, as a Miata enthusiast, I had never seen them before on any 1989-1997 Miata. Despite my reservation about the wheels, we took it for a test drive. Helen and I made a deal, I gave her a deposit and she cried at the thought of her baby going away.
Since I officially didn’t own the car until I had the title and keys in my hand, I had some time to research the car I was about to buy. I found out that 1994 was one of the best years to buy a Miata. I also found out that the wheels on that car didn’t exist on any year Miata, according to this Miata wheel chart. Panic filled my heart. Did I just buy a Miata that was wrecked and replaced with knock-off wheels? Or worse still is the owner lying to me about its history? I called Helen and she reassured me that these wheels have been on the car for 20 years she owned the car. No accidents, nor swapped wheels. I felt better, but was concerned about that first owner. Who was this guy? Why did he only own the car for three years? Did he replace the wheels? The car was purchased in Rochester, N.Y., and that’s where it spent the first three years of its life until Helen picked it up from a dealer in New Jersey. So those first three years still concerned me. I continued digging.
I came across a thread from Miata.net, an enthusiast Miata forum, from April 2016 in which a 1995 Miata owner had posted about the same wheels that my car had. Only issue was no one on the largest Miata enthusiast forum in the United States had an idea of where these wheels came from. The closest clue I had was that a member mentioned that the center logo looked like it was from a 1991 Mazda. I wasn’t able to find anything else. It had me either thinking these were the rarest Miata wheels in existence, or that they were some cheap fake knock-off Miata wheels.
I expanded my search. I wrote an article for Right Foot Down on the wheels on August 11th, 2016, then I posted to Jalopnik’s Oppositelock. I sent that article to other publications like The Drive, Road and Track, Automobile Magazine, and didn’t hear anything back. These wheels stumped everybody. Not a single person on one of the biggest automotive websites in the world (Jalopnik) seemed to know, or really care for that matter, about these wheels. I couldn’t stop. It’s not in my nature to just give up (I’m like Hillary Clinton, my best attribute is I don’t quit).
So I turned my attention to places like Tire Rack (nothing), Flyin’ Miata (nothing), and finally sent an email to Mazda’s North America’s Public Affairs Manager, Tamara Mlynarczyk. It was a Hail Mary throw, but at this point I was ready to give up. Tamara connected me to Jacob Brown, who connected me to Nick. Neither of them knew the answer, and both thought they weren’t Mazda Miata wheels. Well, that sucked.
Stubborn me didn’t believe them. Jacob threw a Hail Mary of his own, and this was the pass that I finally thought could win the game. Jacob connected me with the legendary, yet completely mysterious Neal Swigert of Kansei Rotary. I hadn’t ever heard of him, but Jacob said he’s the end-all-be-all of Mazda knowledge, a walking talking Mazda encyclopedia.
I sent Neal my pitch and pictures of my wheels. He replied that he was traveling and would get back to me. Ugh, really?! I had been searching for over two months now, so what’s a couple more days, right? Right?
Good news, or bad I was ready to find out what kind of wheels were on my Miata!
So ready to find out if these are real Miata wheels or not? Yea, so am I!
It remembered about thirty minutes ago that I still had to look into this for you, and viola- we have some answers. So far, while I am not certain if it was the earliest I recall seeing the wheels in question, the earliest I can confirm your wheels showed up on a Mazda from the factory was during calendar year 1991, as the standard alloy wheel option (in place of base model ‘steelies’) on the 1992 model year MX-3/Precidia (I believe standard equipment on the MX-3 GS). It was shortly thereafter offered as a Mazda factory authorized dealer accessory for the MX-5/Miata in 1993. It was referred to simply as “Silver Sport Wheel”, and was offered only in a 14″ size (I believe 14″ x 6″, though at present can not confirm that). As far as my records here go, they first appear in print as a Miata option in the late 1993 Mazda dealer accessories binder (there were two accessory binders issued in 1993 for the Great Lakes Region, one early and one later). The wheels were labeled as an “A” code accessory, meaning dealer or consumer installed option. They were carried as an authorized Miata option through late 1996, though interestingly, are not shown nor listed in any of the Miata showroom brochures, which is likely why most of your Miata friends were stumped. The part number for the wheels is/was 0000-88-14M3-92. I am presently unable to provide the pricing that they were originally, as my catalogs, brochures and price lists are scattered all over the place right now, including some in hard-to-access storage. If I am able to unearth that or any other information on them, I will pass it along right away.
Hope this info helps shed some light on your mystery wheels. Again, my apologies for the delayed reply. Please do stay in touch…
You can view a copy of the 1994 Dealer Accessory Catalog here, that shows the dealer accessory of the “Silver Sport Wheels” that my Miata has.
The legendary Neal solved the Mazda Miata wheel mystery in about 30 seconds. I was so relieved to find out that they are stock Miata wheels! Just super rare, and only known to be on two Miatas in the country. You heard that right, ONLY TWO MIATAs in the United States are known to still have these wheels on their car. Absolutely amazing! That makes this Miata wheel perhaps the rarest Miata wheels in the world! Neal later found pricing on the wheels and they came out to $390.20/each, so this was a $1560.80 dealer accessory for my car in 1994! I can’t believe I was ready to just throw these wheels away.
A big thank you to everyone who helped me in my search! If you have these wheels on your Miata, let me know!