" Carlos Salaff played a key role in Mazda’s Southern California design studio for close to a decade. He played a key role in the exterior design of the Mazda Ryuga, Nagare and Furai concept cars as well as production "
Is this the ultimate collection of MX-5s?
First unveiled in 1989 at the Chicago Auto Show, The Mazda MX5 has been around for a while now, and shows no sign of losing its popularity as a beautifully engineered roadster.
Now in its fourth incarnation, the styling, sophistication and safety features may have naturally updated and evolved over the years, but the classic formula that made this car such a hit nearly 30 years ago remain the same, and that’s the secret behind this little cracker. It’s a car for everybody and a car that demands to be driven. It’s been unfairly described as ‘a hairdresser’s car’ by a whole army of people who’ve never even sat in one, never mind driven one, and it’s only when you do drive one, that you very quickly begin to understand why people have fallen in love with it over the years, and how the simple recipe that Mazda created in the late 80s, is still at the heart of the MX5 in 2017.
We wanted to find out first hand why this car has such timeless appeal and how it’s gained the respect of ‘drivers’ around the world for nearly three decades. Ideally, we wanted to find somebody who loved the Mazda MX5 like no other, so imagine our delight when we found just that somebody, and then found out he lived in the beautiful rolling Italian hills of Umbria. If Carlsberg did online motoring films, then this was it! I wasted no time making contact with Andrea Mancini, our MX5 superfan who to be honest, sounded too good to be true.
“So this guy in Italy, has a beautiful Umbrian farmhouse and is the proud owner of more than 30 MX5s??”
“He’s got every type of MX5 ever conceived including all the special editions, upgrades and imports from Japan, the USA and wherever else??”
“And he’s building a luxury B&B wing to accompany his beautiful home, complete with infinity pool and views to die for, not to mention a barn full of MX5s that his autourists can drive willy and indeed nilly around the beautiful hills of Umbria??”
I’m not sure if ‘autourists’ is actually a word, but I think it works quite well in this context.
Anyway, back to the story. I contacted Andrea via email having looked at his Miataland website. For those that don’t know, Miata was the name that Mazda used to market the car in North America. I don’t know why they chose that rather than MX5, but that’s not important right now. What is important is that Andrea came straight back to me with a very positive response and some possible dates for our proposed filming visit, approximately 90 seconds before I pressed ‘confirm booking’ on our easyjet flights.
We arrived in Rome, picked up our hire car and journeyed two hours north to a tiny little hamlet called Piedicolle near Todi, which is where Miataland is located. It was everything we’d hoped it would be and more, and Andrea and his wife Claudia couldn’t have made us feel more welcome. We were greeted with open arms, shown around the estate and soon to be completed luxury guest accommodation, given a cold drink and then asked if we wanted to see where the magic happens. Like kids being asked if they still had room for ice cream, we responded clearly and positively and made our way for the barn. Andrea’s love for the MX5 is unparalled, which is why he is without doubt the greatest collector in the world. There’s nothing MX5, Miata or Eunos related that he doesn’t have in there. Oh and he also collects steering wheels, but that’s probably for another film!
The idea was to showcase some of his beautiful collection of 39 cars which is the culmination of many years of devoted searching, acquiring and pampering. If we were painting this collection rather than filming it, surely it would be described as a mazdapiece!
Stunning scenery, first class hospitality and the most incredible array of these cars on the planet, all washed down with some fresh homemade pasta, and a cold crisp glass of frascati by the pool. I suspect the next time myself and cameraman Matt are filming in the pouring rain in Slough or Corby or somewhere equally aesthetic, we’ll look back on this trip and wish we were back in Italy driving MX5s up and down the hills all day in the sunshine.
Andrea and Claudia have very kindly invited us back to Miataland when it’s all finished, and we will certainly be taking them up on their offer. They’re the perfect hosts, and in Miataland, they have the ultimate destination for MX5 fans from around the world. It was an absolute pleasure to visit and we hope you enjoy the film. In fact, we need you to enjoy the film and share it liberally amongst your friends and family please, to justify our trip and impress upon our cynical other halves that this was actually work and not a holiday.
Oh I forgot to tell you…they’re also planning to produce their own wine on site for their guests, squeezed from the plump grapes in their Miataland vineyard. With somewhere like this to go and while away a few sunny days, it’s difficult to imagine how you wouldn’t fall in love with this beautiful and iconic little car.
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