The NM Concept Is A Miata That’s Somehow The Most Miata

Gorgona Na Concept 1

The original generation (aka NA) Mazda Miata is a remarkably simple sports car that, when optioned properly, gives owners everything they want by barely giving they everything they need. To add something to it is to naturally remove some of that purity, and yet, the ND-powered NM Concept by Gorgona Cars manages to out-Miata the urMiata in some key ways.

Gorgona Na Concept 5

Unsurprisingly, this barchetta-style Miata is the work of an engineer (David Galliano) and an Italian car journalist (Omar Abu Eideh). Even in Europe Miata is always the answer. The genesis of this particular vehicle, also unsuprisingly, seems to have started over drinks:

It is a mild evening and they are talking about sports and light cars, beautiful to drive. They are talking about MX-5, then. At that precise moment, they start to think how to improve the first generation MX-5 and how to make an “NA” more beautiful to look at and to drive. A tribute to the first Miata.

The result of a long brainstorming is the “NM concept”: it’s a Naked Monoposto (italian for single-seater) made from a restored NA. It has a modified chassis and improved components. A light and powerful little “barchetta” (in Italy this name defines a sports car without the windshield), faithful to the original mechanical architecture – made of a four-cylinder front engine, manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive – and designed to enhance the pure analogue driving pleasure.

A modified, Singer-ized Miata isn’t the most original idea, but they seem to have done a good job with this one aesthetically. Mazda themselves tried something like this with the NB Mono Posto concept and this looks approximately a million times better.

Gorgona Na Concept 4

The door sills have been raised halfway up the vehicle to add more structural rigidity and better crash protection. The windshield is gone, as is the passenger compartment, and instead there’s a single opening for the (presumably) helmeted driver. The little pod behind the driver features an integrated roll bar, since this is something you’d definitely be encouraged to drive to the track. As with all things Miata, the shorter you are the better everything will work.

If there’s one detail I’m glad they didn’t change is the nose. Other than the addition of a black splitter, the large opening and pop-up headlights are more-or-less where you expect them.

Gorgona Na Concept 3

Inside, gauges are borrowed from the ND Miata and the driver is given the bare minimum of what’s needed: A MOMO steering wheel, a shifter, an e-brake, an ignition button and not much else.

What’s the point of the ND gauges? Besides being modern, they pair well with the ND-supplied 2.0-liter Mazda four-banger. The engine is seemingly stock and produces 181 horsepower in stock form, or 225 horsepower with the optional power kit. The original NA Miata had 116 horsepower, so this is a nice upgrade, especially when you consider the option for a sub-2,000-pound curb weight.

Gorgona Na Concept 2

This isn’t just a one-off, either, as Gorgona Cars wants to build a few of these things for interested parties at a cost of approximately €70,000, which is approximately $70,000 depending on when you check. A limited-run, handbuilt-in-Italy Miata might seem like a ridiculous notion when used ones are still fairly cheap, but I find this oddly alluring and extremely thoughtful.

Gorgona Na Concept 6

Plus, the wait’s gotta be shorter than for a Singer.

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32 Responses

  1. Like others, I find the price ridiculous. On the other hand the build is an inspiration to any Miata owner not just first gen. The concept is sound and could be replicated in a home garage by someone with a modicum of talent. Eminently do-able!

  2. They had me until 70k. As I’ve said many times…the NA Miata is very, very dear to me. My aunt bought a first edition in 1990, in British racing green with the light brown interior. She used to drive me around as a kid and let me row the gears for her. It definitely gave me one of the sparks that led to becoming an enthusiast later.

    To this day she still owns that exact car. It has 138k on it now and she’s put a lot of blood sweat and tears into keeping it in nice shape. It’s also the car I learned to drive stick on, and I still go out to visit and drive it with her a few times a year. It’s a magical car and the NA driving experience holds up to this day.

    …so I am certainly the type of person this would appeal to, but for 70k? It ain’t THAT cool. For that much I’d rather have a 718 Boxster…I’ll bet a manual S that’s almost new is our there for that kind of scratch. I love this, but part of what makes the Miata so great is the fact that it’s the working class sports car…and there ain’t nothing working class about 70 grand. That puts this firmly in the “rich people toy” category, where the Miata should never be.

  3. Miatas are not sacred, do whatever you want with your own car, etc. etc., but I just don’t care for this. The build quality looks like it’s *almost* there, but not quite—the added panels don’t quite flow, the cut lines look a little awkward. And, to me, the whole thing just looks sort of…mutated. Deformed, even. It doesn’t work for me.

    It’s also not quite what I want out of a Miata. To me, one of the greatest things about Miatas is how accessible and usable they are. You get two seats, so a friend can come along. You get a roof, so you can use it in the rain. You get a trunk that’s just big enough that you can use the car on a daily basis. And they’re cheap, so anyone can have one.

    This car is none of those things. That’s fine, there’s a fine old tradition of taking Miatas and turning them into whatever suits your vision, but it doesn’t work for me. I don’t think it’s pretty, and I wouldn’t want to own it. I’ll stick with my still-mostly-stock 96M. I just finished that clutch job an hour ago, so it’s time to get some driving in before the snow hits!

    Now, this does remind me of another one-off yellow NA that I absolutely adore. We can’t post pictures, but do yourself a favor and Google “Mazda MX-5 M Coupe Concept,” then come back here and tell me you don’t want to live in a world where that thing got put into production.

    1. In 2003 Mazda made 179 MX-5 (NB) Coupes for the JDM.

      I personally think the NB suits the coupe body better than the NA anyway.

      Legally importable without show-and-display in 2028.

  4. Just gorgeous. I always loved those tonneau covers you could buy for the old British roadsters that had a zippered area to allow you to drive it with it still in place over the rest of the cockpit.

    But someone with more knowledge than I – does the NA code stand for something? Always wondered.

    (and don’t judge me! I once convinced a girlfriend to buy one, and then promptly drove it way more than she ever did. And no, I did NOT love it more than her, despite what she’d claim…)

    1. Tonneau covers are easy! Go to good upholstery shop with your concept, a sketch and ideally a couple of photos. Specify either Velcro or button and tab (recommended) and agree on a price. Got mine for a bit over $400. Didn’t hurry him and didn’t bother him. Beautiful results!

    2. Mazda’s long used two-letter codes for their vehicles. There’s a few good articles out there, but – borrowing from Wikipedia – “The company’s model codes form the fifth and sixth characters if the VIN on post-1981 vehicles. The first character is a letter representing the platform family, while the second is the sequential letter for the revision of the platform.”
      E.g. MX-5s are the most well-known with NA, NB, NC, ND (now on “ND2”).
      RX-7s were FB, FC, and FD (no FA, as it evolved from a different platform).
      Mazda’s midsize FWD cars like the 626/Capella and its successor the 6/Atenza were the G_ platform, so GC, GD, GE for several versions of the 626, and GG-GL for the Mazda6’s iterations.
      And so on, and so on. Personally I find them one of the more sensible platform naming schemes, generally speaking.

    3. I’ve read that the initial NA designation was because Mazda North America had a hand in designing the car (in fact a forum post with this same tidbit turns up if you do a Google search on what NA means for a Miata), but I’ve never seen any actual corroboration of this story. I’m pretty sure it’s just a model code, much like E9, F Body, C110, etc.

      1. Thank you to you and to Hugh Crawford both.

        I actually did wonder if it stood for “North America” (that’s what the N in SN95 Mustang stands for), but recalled the Miata was sold in both Japan and Europe (Miata > Eunos though…Ford figured out a long time ago that alliteration is a great thing in the car biz) originally so I wasn’t sure.

    4. NA first generation
      NB second generation
      NC third generation
      Notice a pattern yet?
      On the other hand if the question is why the letter N, then I have no idea.

      One of the things I like about old Triumphs and MGs is how easy it is to remove the windshield which is lovely at 30mph or less and makes a 60mph trip to the store an memorable adventure.

      A kit to do this to my own NA would get my money.

  5. For some reason I love what they did with the doors. I have a rain suit and a helmet, but I don’t have $70,000. It’s hard to make something less useful and ask more money for it. Beautiful, though.

  6. Ah, the wind in your hair, the bugs in your teeth… I do love NA Miatas, but I confess that a lack of windshield is a bit too hardcore for me.

    Love the MOMO wheel, though. I had a similar one in my NA Miata. It now lives in the MG.

  7. Interesting car. In swapping the engine for the ND 2.0L, I hope they didn’t bring along the always-ready-to-grenade ND 6 spd transmission. At $70K, that might be a near deal-breaker.

  8. I just want to say that as neat as this is, and as commendable an effort as it is, it is absolutely, in no way, shape, or form, on par with the efforts put into crafting a Singer Porsche.

    But regardless, I’d love to hoon the hell out of either of them.

  9. What type of wheels/tires does this have? The ND2 engine has considerable power for its size, and if I recall correctly, the NA came with 185mm tires. From the pictures, it looks like they’ve upgraded to some 15-inch RPF1s, I’d be curious to know what tire width they went with.

  10. I’m curious what its top speed is and what its fuel economy is given that there was a significant reduction in frontal area to perform this modification.

    Personally, I’d like to see the Miata turned into a streamlined coupe with a Cd in the low 0.2X range(or less), with a Miata Italia front end, round tail lights like a classic Ferrari, no stylized vents and other crap but instead a shape that’s clean to the airflow with just enough cooling air going where it needs to(and no more, and via NACA ducts that minimize drag), and then shove a modern 3L Skyactive inline-6 in it. With optimized gearing, such a thing could be a 200+ mph car that gets 50+ mpg highway when driven normally, and it wouldn’t cost appreciably more to build than the current Miata that is made.

    For $70k, I could have the above custom built for me out of an NA or NB Miata. Maybe even make it a diesel with the 3.3L Skyactive D tuned to roughly the same power as the gas variant.

  11. I have two 1.6L NA Miatas. One I bought brand new in early ’90 and is closing on 200k miles, mostly with the top down. The other is an early Spec Miata race car. I also have a monoposto vintage race car (1956 Lotus Eleven) with a head fairing. With that DNA, I should love this, but I don’t.

    The NA body style is too stubby for the streamliner treatment, it just looks tacked on. The head fairing execution is particularly amateurish. The doors are a useless gimmick. With an ND engine, I am sure it screams but an Exocet https://exomotive.com/exocet/ is much cheaper for the same or better performance.

    I applaud the effort but its a hard pass on the execution.

  12. I agree with all that have commented so far and here is My 2-cents…

    The absolute joy of my 2021 ND Miata is that it can be very fun “point A to point B” car if I plan carefully. But a $70K “point A to point A” car just doesn’t fit into my life in any meaningful way. If I ever get into taking a car to the track, I’d probably not want this either. I’d look into an old ratty track car to abuse.

    1. I would check carefully with your intended racing venues, and state registration office, to see what their minimum requirements are for windscreens. Would be a shame to spent 70K and wait a year+ for a car that can only be driven on private roads.

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