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Shunji Tanaka, key designer of the original Mazda Miata, dead at 75

Shunji Tanaka, a crucial designer of the iconic Mazda Miata, has died. He was 75.

Tanaka led the exterior and inside design of the Mazda MX-five Miata, a lightweight Japanese roadster impressed by postwar-era British sporting activities automobiles. The automobile went on sale in the U.S. in May possibly 1989 with a beginning selling price of $13,800 and a one.six-liter four-cylinder motor with 116 hp.

The roadster, which showcased a lightweight aluminum hood, weighed a feathery 2,116 lbs and could strike sixty mph in a lot less than nine seconds.

U.S. profits peaked in 1990, the car’s next 12 months on the market place, at 35,944. The one millionth Miata rolled off the line in 2016.

While yearly U.S. profits have declined as convertibles have fallen out of favor with customers, the automobile continues to be a crucial component of Mazda’s identity. In 2019, Mazda celebrated the MX-5’s heritage with a 30th anniversary special edition.

Pursuing his stint at Mazda, Tanaka joined Kawasaki, where he made motorcycles.