An open top, conservative power figure and rear wheel drive are considered attributes of the purest of the breed. Today, that shoe fits the Mazda MX-5 perfectly. Two seats, open-top, slight proportions (and weight) and soft curvaceous styling. It’s without question the definitive sportscar of recent memory. It’s not the Daddy, though.
For that, you’d do well to look at where Mazda took inspiration for the MX-5. It’s British, naturally. It has a soft or hard top, lightweight construction, compact proportions and a thrashy four-cylinder engine. You could easily believe that the MX-5 is a reborn Lotus Elan from the land of the rising sun.
The Elan was to become Lotus’ bread and butter post-launch in 1962. For its time it was very sophisticated, utilizing fully independent suspension, disc braking all-around and a steel backbone chassis onto which the fibreglass body was mounted. All-up, the Elan weighed comfortably under 700kg, sating the Chapman obsession with light-weight. Under the bonnet resided a four-cylinder DOHC Ford engine tuned by Lotus. Its effectiveness would eventually lead to Ford buying it up and re-distributing it as the famous Lotus-Ford Twin Cam. Lotus Cortina anyone?