What is the Miata Wave? Explained

It’s not uncommon for owners of enthusiast vehicles to wave when passing each other out on the road. This is no different with the Mazda MX-5 Miata.

It’s not exclusive to just one generation of Miata, either – you’ll often find NA owners waving at ND owners, and vice versa.

But where did this tradition come from? And why is waving so important to some Miata drivers? Let’s discuss.

What is the Miata wave?

The Miata wave involves first-generation Miata owners flipping up their pop-up headlights to ‘wave’ at fellow Miata drivers. It’s a popular greeting among Mazda MX-5 owners and enthusiasts.

Pop-up headlights were the most iconic feature of the first-generation MX-5 Miata. They’re stylish, functional and a true novelty for car geeks like you and me.

But did you know they are also used to greet other Miata owners when out on the road?

To do the Miata wave, just activate your pop-up headlights and turn them off again. The Miata wave gives NA Miata owners a unique way to identify each other and reflects the shared experiences that these cars give us.

It’s important to note that the Miata wave is not restricted to owners of the first-generation Miata. I regularly encounter ‘waves’ from NA owners while out driving my NB Miata (you know, the subsequent model without the pop-up headlights).

Of course, I always wave back. Because I’m nice. For owners of NB, NC and ND Miatas, the Miata wave simply involves waving your hand at other Miata owners as you pass by.

Why do MX-5 Miata owners wave at each other?

Miata owners waving at each other is a tradition that dates back many years. It’s a way for MX-5 enthusiasts to show their appreciation for the beloved roadster and its open-minded community of fans and admirers.

The MX-5 Miata is the best-selling two-seat sports car in history. Despite this, it’s actually quite rare to see them out on the road. In America, you’re far more likely to see Honda Civics and Ford F150s than Miatas.

Because of this rarity, the Miata community feels tight-knit. It almost feels like a special club to be a part of. For that reason, Miata drivers like to wave and acknowledge each other as enthusiasts.

Should I wave at other MX-5 Miata drivers?

Yes, you should! Owning a Miata is a one-of-a-kind experience and one that you will cherish. There’s nothing wrong with expressing that passion and acknowledging other Miata owners in the process. You might even make new friends!

There is a fellow Miata owner in my area who I see driving around pretty often. We always make a point of waving at each other whenever we see one another out on the road.

Now, I’ll probably never meet this guy face-to-face. But thousands of other MX-5 owners gather at meetups and owners club events every month. There’s every chance that I’ll see him there one day.

For the most part, Miata owners will go the extra mile to embrace other owners at events like these. The MX-5 community is a truly special one.

Why don’t some MX-5 Miata drivers wave?

Sometimes, especially on busy roads, it’s hard to see other MX-5 Miatas as they pass you by. Also, drivers with newer models of the Miata (like the ND) might not be aware of the ‘waving’ tradition.

There are a few reasons why a Miata driver might not initiate a wave, or wave back at you. Often it’s just down to poor timing – they might be too focused on the road ahead of them to see you.

It’s also common for some MX-5 Miata drivers to be unaware of the waving tradition, or unaware of the enthusiast community that accompanies the car.

Don’t be disheartened if somebody doesn’t wave back – it’s not because they hate you. They probably just didn’t see you in time.


The Miata wave feels like a special kind of handshake that is unique to the few of us who love and cherish these awesome vehicles.

It’s a symbol of the strength and cordial nature of the MX-5 Miata community, and a glowing indication of how polite the people within it are.

For something that takes less than 5 seconds to do, it could help to make someone’s day. Why not give it a try next time you’re out on the road and you see another Miata?

Do you wave at fellow MX-5 Miata owners? Let me know below!

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