Wednesday, October 22, 2014

5k: Baby Pistons: 1993 Mazda MX-3

 The Mazda MX-3 was a sporty 2+2 hatch that used much of the BG platform (Familia/323/Protegé) functional parts.  The thing that set Mazda's little CRX/GTI hunter apart was the the addition of an optional high revving (7,800 rpm) 1.8 liter V6.  That is not a typo, it came with a V6 that was smaller than most inline-4 cylinder engines at the time -- and this particular MX-3 is not the average ridden hard and put away wet example.  Find this 1993 Mazda MX-3 offered for $3,300 in Carlisle, PA

Most of the MX-3s on the market are total pieces of junk, but this one is a surprising 40k mile find in the heart of the rust belt.  For a 20 year old car from Pennsylvania, this thing looks really nice under the hood and the seller does not mention any rust -- it was probably  in a garage (or Florida) during the winter.

The revv happy motor under the hood Mazda's K8-DE, a 1.8 liter DOHC 24 Valve 60 degree V6 that pushes 130 horsepower at 6,500 rpm into the front wheels.  Unfortunately this particular car uses the option 4-speed automatic gearbox instead of the 5-speed manual.  It seems that most 5-speed examples are being turned into race cars or canoe stands

The interior on the kammback 4 seater is decently spacious for the total vehicle footprint, but is filled with mostly low rent hard plastics and cheap cloth.  The huge rear glass hatch adds a ton of usability while maintaining agreeable visibility. 

See a MX-3 with low miles AND a 5-speed?


  1. Automatic, and mousey-seat-belts. What a shame! I wonder how feasible it would be to retrofit a 5-speed.

  2. LF fender seems a much darker red.

    Why did they not offer this engine in the Miata?


    1. Bob Hall (Bwob) one of the "fathers" of the Miata used to have a column on ("Ask Bob!"). His answer to your question: The K series Mazda V6 (built in 1.8, 2.0, 2.3 and 2.5 litre versions) was designed solely for transverse, front-drive applications, sitting angled over at 11 to 17 degrees (to ease packaging in a transverse layout) so the oiling galleries and passages were designed to be living at a slant. Placing the engine "upright" would alter the lubrication properties radically. Mazda Australia's competition department worked on one but gave up after about six months, bamboozled by the inability to get oil to where it had to be when it had to be there in the engine. Like at high rpm."

    2. Aha! Thanks Gianni.


  3. These engines have a surprisingly satisfying exhaust note when fitted with a proper exhaust. The transmission is kind of a wet blanket, but once that's sorted these cars can be a pantload of fun.

  4. It's cool that we're talking about the tiny K8 V6, but the picture above shows an inline 4. The ad never mentions a V6; just an "economical 1.6 liter motor."

    1. Here's a nice MX-3 in black with the V6 and 5-spd manual:


    2. I gotta start reading these ads before I write them up. I coulda sworn it was the V6...I looked at a bunch of them. Wishful thinking, I guess. ~hangs head in shame.

  5. If you like these cars you should take a look at the similar Nissan NX2000s, those are available with the legendary sr20(non-turbo) and should be about as plentiful and cheap just my $.02

  6. Shopped these with my parents when they were new. Aside from the engine note, the performance of the 4 and 6 was sufficiently similar that we went with the four. It ended up being an emotion-less, gutless car that needed to be caned to do anything, and that was with the 5-speed. And it had a pathetic, squeaky little horn too, so if you were trying to avoid a collision the other person would just laugh at you. The only good thing was it could comfortably accommodate 4 people. Rightfully or not, it made my mother swear off Japanese cars.

  7. Fleetwood T. BroughamOctober 23, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    This car helped me create a dating theorem back in my college dating days in the 90's. Through much trial and error, I discovered that the ladies I was dating, if they drove a semi-sporty car with the low-end option motor instead of the better version, tended to be batsh## crazy. Hear me out---here's the rides of some of the crazy ones:

    MX3 with the 1.6 4 cylinder
    Fox body Mustang LX with the 4 cylinder
    Mk2 VW GTi with the 8 valve motor
    300Z non-turbo
    Nissan Sentra base model

    And some of the keeper, non-crazy, variety ones had:
    Jetta GLi 16v
    Honda Prelude VTEC
    Nissan Sentra SE-R

    I should have spent more time trying to prove this theorem, but I just didn't stay on top of it. HA! ON TOP! GET IT?

    1. I can attest to the validity of your theorem. Three in the former category in my experience drove a Honda Accord 4-cyl coupe, a base-model Escort ZX2, and another Accord...4-cyl sedan. All automatics of course.

      My wife drives a VW Jetta Sportwagen 2.0L TDI w/ 6-spd manual...keeper.

    2. FTB - I've had some mixed results with your theorem over the years... The crazies have driven everything from E46 M3's to twin-stick Colts. Instead, I devised my own never-fail litmus test.

      Start off exclusively driving your "nice" car. Around date 4 or 5 make dinner reservations at a high end place with a valet and lots of people watching. Then spring the lifted muddy, 1/2 primer, rusted out, oil burning, coolant leaking, 1st gen 4Runner that smells suspiciously of expired meat on them. Works every time.

      Typical response: "I thought you had an Audi? Do we have to take this? Lets just take a cab."
      My wife's response: "screw dinner, I know a great [off road] trail about 20 minutes from here."

  8. Girl I thought about asking out in college: called her Toyota Paeo a "sports car" in barely passable French one day. Pass.

    Wife: played rugby, couldn't give a piss about French, drove a manual Sentra she modded with her brother, pushed/popped clutch to jump start my Mk2 jetta more times than I can remember. Keep. Keep. Keep.


Commenting Commandments:
I. Thou Shalt Not write anything your mother would not appreciate reading.
II. Thou Shalt Not post as anonymous unless you are posting from mobile and have technical issues. Use name/url when posting and pick something Urazmus B Jokin, Ben Dover. Sir Edmund Hillary Clint don't matter. Just pick a nom de plume and stick with it.
III. Honor thy own links by using <a href ="http://www.linkgoeshere"> description of your link </a>
IV. Remember the formatting tricks <i>italics</i> and <b> bold </b>
V. Thou Shalt Not commit spam.
VI. To embed images: use [image src="" width="400px"/]. Limit images to no wider than 400 pixels in width. No more than one image per comment please.