New Alfa Romeo roadster and Mazda Miata to be co-developed and built in Japan

1962 Alfa Romeo Giulia SpiderWhat is this, a Mazda Motor Corporation and Fiat Group Automobiles signing “a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding…for the development and manufacturing of a new roadster for the Mazda and Alfa Romeo marques based on Mazda’s next-generation MX-5 rear-wheel-drive architecture”? An Romeo roadsters based on the next generation of the Mazda MX-5 Miata? It’s the world turned upside down.

Who during the heyday of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider or Alfa Duetto would have thought the storied maker of Italian sports cars would borrow from a Japanese manufacturer to build its next generation of roadster? Yet that’s what has happened.

It’s officially a study at this point, but would lead to two different light-weight roadsters, each with its own “iconic and brand-specific” styling, and rear-wheel drive. Critical for fans of each marque, the Mazda and Alfa Romeo versions will each be powered by engines from their respective makers.

The agreement is similar to that reached between Toyota and Subaru to develop and build the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ sports coupe, although those cars share engines and most body and suspension parts.

The understanding places manufacture of the Mazda MX-5 Miata and the as-yet unnamed Alfa—we prefer Giulia Spider or perhaps Duetto—at Mazda’s Hiroshima, Japan, plant. Production for the new Alfa Romeo roadster would begin in 2015.The next generation of Miata is expected for the 2014 model year.

Signing of the “Final Agreement” between Mazda and Fiat for the new roadsters is planned for later this year. So how does one say “Wow!” in Italian?

The 1962 Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider shown could provide inspiration for the new Alfa roadster planned for a 2015 production start. Photo by John Matras, Copyright John Matras Media LLC