Thursday 29 August 2013

Mazda Roadster NB Coupe

The NC wasn't the first Roadster to get the coupe treatment. Mazda had experimented with adding a coupe roof since the very early designs; but it wasn't until the latter stages of the NB generation, in 2003, that Mazda offered a real coupe model. Part-completed body shells would be taken off the main production line and fitted with bespoke steel roof panels.

The body shell was strengthened and engineers managed to achieve this with just a 10kg weight increase. The production of the coupe was handled by Mazda Engineering & Technology a subsidiary of Mazda that specialises in limited production models. As this was a specially customised vehicle, they were given a new VIN series starting with 700000 and are referred to as NB7. At the time this model was the only rear wheel drive coupe made in Japan with an engine size under 2.0 litres.

Roadster Coupe was available in three designs and four grades. The base model 1.6 and the 1.8 Type-S shared the same front end as a regular Roadster and were available in Pure White, Sunlight Silver, and Classic Red. Then there were two limited models, the Type-A and Type-E, these were only available in Lightning Yellow or Velocity Red. There were intended to be 200 Type-A and 150 Type-E. Type-S and Type-A models were based on the 1.8 six-speed RS grade, the Type-E was based on the 1.8 VS Combination B with a four-speed automatic transmission and beige interior.

The Type-E Coupe was said to have a refined and elegant design that would appeal more to female buyers. It has a unique front bumper with foglamps, and bezels for the tail and headlights. The Type-E cost just over £18k at the time.
Type-A was marketed as the sporty model with a traditional Italian race car inspired design. This model had quite a few unique parts such as the front bumper, front grille, front foglamps, wheel arch extensions, front and rear light bezels, the front lip spoiler, side skirts, and rear under skirt were made from a carbon fibreglass reinforced plastic. These extra parts pushed the price up to just over £20k.
Mazda displayed a pale blue/green concept with custom colour matched multi-spoke wheels at the 2002 Tokyo Auto Salon. This car was known as the RS Coupe and would become the basis for the Type-E model.
The following year's show had three customised versions of the Coupe on display. A yellow Type-A and strangely coloured pink Type-E were presented with aftermarket wheels and a few other bits to show how they could look. There was also a dark blue concept coupe in NR-A race mode featuring a six-point safety cage, bucket seats with harnesses and lightweight Enkei Racing wheels.
The 2004 Auto Salon featured a red Type-A with 7-spoke chrome wheels and a red Type-E with multi-spoke wheels and chrome door mirrors. The Roadster Coupe TS Concept created by Mazda E&T made its debut. This car was based on a Type-S (hence the name) but featured the Monocraft MM-1 retro style front end conversion and was designed to look like an old school clubman racer. TS Concept also had white Enkei Racing wheels, a safety cage, the turbo model's rear skirt, a centre exit exhaust, and rear lights and side repeaters by Zoom Engineering. Another version of this concept called the Circuit Trial, was fitted with a revised front bumper and the arch extensions from the Type-A model, then painted light blue and fitted with OZ Superturismo wheels for the 2005 Salon.

Ultimately the Coupes did not sell in the numbers Mazda had hoped and production was adversely affected by a major fire causing a shutdown of the Ujina factory. From Mazda's own data it is believed only 179 were actually sold, with 126 being 1800cc and 53 with the 1600cc engine. The Coupe models are extremely rare and they still command a significant premium in the used car market.

Let's take a look at the original brochure...