What Happened To The MX-5 Miata’s Pop-Up Headlights?

MX-5 Miata’s Pop-Up Headlights: The Mazda MX-5 Miata is a lightweight roadster with rear-wheel drive that is made to be as fun and cheap as possible.
Mazda made the Miata as a tribute to the British roadsters of the past, which were all about the driving experience itself. The car has been made since 1989, and since then, it has won over the hearts and thoughts of many car fans.

What Happened To The MX-5 Miata’s Pop-Up Headlights?

It’s hard not to think of the famous first-generation NA form when we think of the Miata. Who could forget those lights that popped up? You might wonder why Mazda got rid of the secret headlights on later models of the Miata. Let’s try to find out why!

The History and Evolution of the MX-5 Miata’s Headlights

One of the most famous and loved sports cars of all time is the Mazda MX-5 Miata. Since its release in 1989, the Miata has won the hearts of millions of drivers and car fans around the world with its fun-to-drive personality, lightweight design, and low price. But the first-generation Miata was different from the ones that came after it because it had headlights that could pop up. This design feature became a trademark of the MX-5 brand.

From the 1960s to the 1990s, many sports cars had headlights that could pop up. They were made to make the car faster and look better by hiding the headlights when they weren’t being used. They also gave the car a bit of personality and charm because you could use them to wink, wave, or show how you felt.

The famous British roadsters of the 1960s, like the Lotus Elan and the Triumph Spitfire, had a big impact on the first-generation MX-5 Miata, also called the NA. These cars also had headlights that popped up, which gave them a unique and classy look. The NA Miata took this design feature and made it its own, making it a modern and classic sports car that many people liked.

The NA Miata (1989-1997): The Pop-Up Headlights Era

What Happened To The MX-5 Miata’s Pop-Up Headlights?

The NA Miata was first shown at the Chicago Auto Show in 1989. From 1989 to 1997, more than 400,000 NA MX-5 Miatas were sold. They were easy to spot because their headlights popped up. The pop-up headlights were one of the car’s most recognizable and well-liked features because they made the car look friendly and fun. Many Miata owners and fans used the pop-up headlights to talk to each other, which helped the car develop its own culture and fan base.

The NA Miata had a 1.6-liter engine with 116 hp, which was later upgraded to a 1.8-liter engine with 128 hp. It was only offered with a five-speed manual transmission. By today’s standards, the car was very light, weighing only about 2,100 pounds2. The car also had a weight distribution that was very close to 50/50, which helped it handle quickly and run smoothly.

Critics and buyers alike liked the NA Miata because it was easy to use, reliable, and fun to drive. The car won a lot of prizes, including Car and Driver’s 10 Best List for seven years in a row. The car served as an inspiration for many other automakers, including BMW, Porsche, and Honda, to create their own affordable sports cars like the BMW Z3, Porsche Boxster, and Honda S2000.

When did the MX-5 Miata drop the pop-up headlights?

In the late 1990s, the MX-5 Miata, which is known for its timeless style and thrilling driving experience, went through a big change. This change meant the end of an age for one of the most recognizable parts of cars: the pop-up headlights. Mazda released the NB version of the MX-5 Miata in 1999. It had fixed headlights that were built into the front bumper.

This change from the flip-up lights that were the car’s trademark made fans and admirers upset. Some people were sad to see this unique design feature go, but others saw this change as a way to bring a famous sports car up to date and give it a new look.

Even though purists didn’t like Mazda’s choice at first, it’s safe to say that it worked out in the end. The sleeker look of the fixed headlights went well with the NB generation’s smoother body lines and better airflow. With improvements in lighting technology, these fixed headlights also made it easier to see at night and required less upkeep than older pop-up headlights.

Even though the pop-up headlights are nostalgic for many MX-5 Miata fans, their removal from later versions of the car allowed Mazda to push the limits of design and technology. Today’s version of the Miata continues to win hearts around the world without relying on such retro features. This is a testament to both Mazda’s commitment to innovation and their understanding of what really makes this roadster special: thrilling performance and recognisable style.

Why did the Miata lose its pop-up headlights?

What Happened To The MX-5 Miata’s Pop-Up Headlights?

There are several possible reasons for this change

One reason is that fixing pop-up headlights costs more and is harder than fixing fixed headlights. There are more moving parts and electrical parts in headlights that pop up, so they can break or stop working over time. If a pop-up headlight gets stuck or broken, it can make it hard for the driver and other road users to see and be safe. A headlight that pops up can also cost more to fix than one that stays in place.

Another reason is that when pop-up headlights are up, they cause more aerodynamic drag, which makes the car use more gas and perform worse. When the headlights pop up, they stop the smooth flow of air over the car’s body. This creates turbulence and drag. This means that the car has to use more energy to fight the drag, which lowers its speed and gas mileage. Fixed headlights, on the other hand, are made to fit the shape of the car and reduce wind resistance.

A third reason is that pop-up headlights are out of style and don’t fit with how Mazda makes cars now. In the 1980s and 1990s, people thought pop-up headlights were cool and modern. But as style trends for cars changed, pop-up headlights became old and no longer used. Mazda wanted the Miata to look more modern and sleek, so they chose fixed headlights that went with the curves and lines of the car.

Pop-up headlights are banned in some places, like Europe, because they don’t meet safety standards and rules. Pop-up headlights can cause more serious injuries to pedestrians and riders in the event of a crash than fixed headlights. Pop-up headlights can also make it hard for other cars to see, especially at night or when the weather is bad. Headlights that don’t move are more likely to follow the rules and standards of different markets.

So, these are some of the reasons why the Miata might have lost its headlights. Some fans of the pop-up headlights have tried to make their own, using things like cardboard models or aftermarket kits, but they are not the same as the originals. Even though the Miata no longer has headlights that pop up, it still has the same charm and attraction as a sports car.

Is it illegal to drive an MX-5 Miata with pop-up headlights?

What Happened To The MX-5 Miata’s Pop-Up Headlights?

Driving an NA Miata with pop-up headlights is completely legal. You are able to do this since neither existing laws nor regulations prohibit it.
For instance, you are free to buy a secondhand 1995 NA Miata with pop-up headlights and drive it anywhere you choose. Your Miata should last for many kilometers as long as it passes the necessary safety checkups (such as ensuring that the headlight bulbs and motors are in excellent operating order). Regulations for automobiles that have already been produced are rarely introduced unless there are serious safety issues with the vehicle.

Vehicles with safety issues occasionally have manufacturer safety recalls. There have been no manufacturer recalls for the pop-up headlights on the NA Miata.

Therefore, if you own a NA Miata, relax! When properly maintained, the Miata’s disguised headlights are not inherently dangerous.

Will pop-up headlights ever return to the Miata?

Pop-up headlights are not likely to ever come back to the Miata. Mazda couldn’t afford to spend the time and money it would take to make hidden headlights that meet current public safety rules.

Yes, we’re aware. No matter how many times you read it, you won’t get better at it. There is almost no chance at all that the Miata will ever again have headlights that pop up. First of all, current car designers and builders no longer make cars with hidden headlights.

They look great on old cars, no doubt. But would the headlights on a 2022 Mercedes-Benz SL really pop up? Most likely not. There are also fears about safety. Mazda decided almost 25 years ago that it wasn’t worth the money to make hidden headlights that met safety rules for pedestrians.

This was the last straw for the Miata and the pop-ups that people loved. But you shouldn’t feel bad about leaving pop-ups where they belong: in the past. Not a bad thing at all.

Pop-up headlights are a throwback to a golden age of classic modern car design. Nothing is more fun than buying an old project car and turning that pop-up switch on and off over and over again.

Why are the Miata’s pop-up headlights so great?

It’s a simple system: a motor pushes a headlight unit out of a Miata’s body so that it can shine on the road.

In the 20th century, it made sense for many car companies, including Mazda, to make headlights that could pop up. When it came to meeting the height standards for headlights, they had some benefits.

They also said that when the light unit was pulled back into the body, the car would be more efficient. But what really gets us going is the way it looks. It’s the perfect example of a design choice that is simple, beautiful, and stands for something more. It’s even the way most NA Miata drivers say hello to each other (the “Miata Wave“).

Pop-up lamps aren’t exactly a feat of current technology. They use a simple motor system that is connected to a switch on the panel.
And for many drivers, it’s just another thing that can go wrong with their car. But the headlights of so many famous cars are hidden. Think about the Mazda RX-7 FD, the Toyota AE86, and the Lotus Elan, along with the MX-5 Miata.

Above all, they give car lovers, young and old, a simple pleasure. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying easy things.


The iconic pop-up headlights on the MX-5 Miata were taken away for a number of reasons, such as new safety rules and changed tastes in style. Some fans may be sad that this unique trait is going away, but it’s important to remember that change is a part of the car business. Mazda made a smart choice to update the look of the MX-5 Miata while keeping its character and driving feel.

Whether you like the classic headlights that pop up or the sleeker look of the current model, what really counts is the joy and excitement you feel when you drive this famous sports car. So let’s enjoy the MX-5 Miata in both its past and present forms while we excitedly wait to see what new features it will get in the future.

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Shagufta Shahzadi
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