Okay, so we noticed this question pops up a lot. What is an NA, NB, and NC Miata?
We’ll start from the top…but it has to do with VIN (Vehicle Identification Numbers).
NA – VIN’s starting with JM1NA
This is the most iconic of Miatas, this vehicle was built from 1990 to 1997. It includes two different engines, the 1.6L 4-cylinder from 1990-93, and the 1.8L 4-cylinder from 1994-97. There was NO 1998 Miata. Easiest way to pick one out in a crowd is the famous pop-up headlights.
NB - VIN’s starting with JM1NB
The NB Miata was built from 1999 to 2005. It came with the same 1.8L motor found in every Miata from 1994-on. However, in 2001 the motor got variable valve timing and started requiring 91 or better octane gas. Distinguished by its near NA size and fixed headlights. It has a more substantial interior, but still shares much of the same running gear from the later NA cars, including brakes, tire sizing, and engine. NB1′s are considered to be 1999 and 2000 cars, NB2′s are post-2000.
NC - VIN’s starting with JM1NC
The NC Miata is still in production, 2006 to present. It is a whole new car, sharing almost no parts with the NA/NB cars. Distinguished by its bigger wheels, flared fenders, projector headlights, and a much more modern interior. NC1 are from 2006-2008. Starting in 2009, Mazda started building the NC2, incorporating suspension tweaks, a higher rev-limiter, and some extra features. Both NC1 and NC2 have a power retractable hardtop model, known by its acronym, PRHT.
The ND Miata is only a few short years away. Suspicious folks think it will be a smaller displacement SkyActiv motor, perhaps a 1.6L or 1.4L, and be several hundred pounds lighter than the current NC2. We can only hope!