It’s hard to believe, but the Mazda Miata is coming up on its 30th birthday. It debuted at the Chicago Auto Show in February of 1989, and went on sale that fall as a 1990 model year. As its anniversary arrives, Mazda will begin offering customers in Japan fully restored NA-generation Miatas from the factory.
For now, the restorations will only be available for the first-generation, NA Miatas, and will only be available in Japan. According to Japanese Nostalgic Car, “the restoration program will entail a customized process tailored to the needs of each customer and car. To ensure quality of the restoration work, the program and facility will be certified by TÜV Rheinland, one of the largest technical inspection and certification organizations in the world.”
Later in 2017, home market Miata fans can apply for the restoration service, and work will kick off in 2018. The program has already completed a test restoration. You can see photos of that restoration at the Roadster Restore program website.
The program is also working with suppliers to reproduce original-specification parts for first-generation Miatas, which should be available worldwide. The parts include hard-to-find items like the original-specification Bridgestone SF-325 tires, the Nardi steering wheel and shift knob from Special Edition cars, and the original convertible top, which differs from most replacements available on the aftermarket.
It’s the first time Mazda has offered such a program, but it’s far from the first time automakers have invested in restoration centers for some of their classic cars. Earlier this year, Nissan’s NISMO division announced a Heritage Parts restoration program for the R32 Skyline GT-R. That program isn’t focused on restoring entire cars, but rather providing difficult to locate parts for accurate restorations of its legendary supercar.
Nissan committed serious attention to its heritage back in 1997 when it launched the Vintage Z Program, which allowed customers to walk into a 10 Nissan showrooms around the country and buy a fully-restored 1971 or 1972 240Z. It filled a gap for Nissan, which was killing off the 300ZX and still hadn’t announced the 350Z. Nissan bought up as many good Zs as it could find in 1996, and had Pierre’Z Service Center in Hawthorne, California completely restore them. Most intriguing was that Nissan offered a full, factory backed 12-month, 12,000 mile warranty.
Acura — or more accurately, Honda — offered full restorations for its NSX supercar in 2009. The NSX Refresh Center launched full restorations on cars from all over the world in Japan. The cars were subjected to a careful inspection, after which the cars were completely disassembled and restored to factory specification.
European manufacturers have embraced full restorations for quite some time. Mercedes-Benz is most notable, and it offers restoration services for classic M-Bs here in the United States. Its facility in Irvine, California features a workshop where restorations are completed, but also has a sales facility to help classic Benzes find new owners, and a parts division which provides restoration parts for shops and individuals around the country.
In recent years, BMW has embarked on restoration services for a few classic models, but it’s more seriously committed to helping clients and shops restore vintage R60/2 motorcycles. In 2010, New Hampshire BMW motorcycle shop Max BMW completely assembled a 1966 R60/2 using nothing but official BMW factory restoration parts available from the parts catalog.
Porsche owners who will only be satisfied with a car built at the factory can have certain models restored at Porsche’s Classic Workshop. Specialists at the Porsche Classic Workshop in Freiberg am Neckar maintain all Porsche Classic models, from the 356 all the way up to the 993-era Porsche 911. If you own a Porsche that isn’t one of the models the Classic Workshop restores, Porsche operates a Porsche Classic Partner program in countries all over the world to restore Porsche models in retail facilities.
Which classic car would you most like to have restored at the factory?