We’ve named exactly 27 people Automobile Magazine Man of the Year since the award was created in 1990. If that math doesn’t add up, it’s for a reason: one year we named seven people members of a “dream team” and one year we declined to name a Man of the Year at all. Needless to say, it’s been an interesting 22 years of awards and executives…have a look for yourself to see if our awards, predictions, and assertions were right or not.
1990: Bob Hall
Manager of Product Planning, Mazda Research and Development of North America
The man behind the Mazda Miata, 1990 Automobile of the Year
In our words: “Hall is noted for his photographic memory, his hyperactive conversational style, and his mania for science-fiction films of the 1950’s. Best of all, he’s one of our boys who made good in a very big way.”
In his own words: “At no stage was [the Miata] presented in a clinic where people were asked to compare the features of a bunch of cars. Because when that happens, what you get is the nose from car A and the tail of car B, and you end up with the Ford Mustang II. When you design any product, from wristwatches to luggage, so that everybody likes it, then nobody loves it.”
What happened next: The Miata, Hall’s labor of love, went on to sell at least 900,000 units…and counting. Imitators/competitors like the Toyota MR2 Spyder and Honda S2000 came and went, but the venerable Miata soldiered (and soldiers) on.