Thursday, February 5, 2015

5k: Endangered Species: 1982 Mazda 626

 Mazda has always been the Japanese equivalent to Chrysler (or maybe AMC...no...Subaru is AMC) -- not quite number one or two (Honda/Toyota and GM/Ford) in terms of sales but always releasing strangely appealing vehicles.  The first generation US spec Mazda 626 (aka 2nd generation Capella) certainly qualifies as quirky, but is it something you would ever want to drive?  Find this 1982 Mazda 626 offered for $4,800 in Los Angeles, CA via craigslist. Tip from FuelTruck.



The 2nd generation Mazda Capella was known outside Japan as the Mazda 626 and featured classic front-engine rear-drive setup and a few basic 4-cylinder powerplant options. Of course the best versions where saved for the Japanese domestic market and here in North America we only got a smog-choked version.


The MA-series inline-4 used a single carburetor for North America feeding into a SOHC cylinder head and produced a wheezy 80 horespower.  Zoom...cough...  I can't help but think this would be a great candidate to swap in a 1.8 liter inline-4 BP-series from an MX-5 -- double the power and double your fun.


At least in this 626 you get to row your own gears, and at around 2300 lbs it is a featherweight of a car compared to modern machines. 


See a better rear-drive Japanese coupe that is all but exctinct from our roads? tips@dailyturismo.com

21 comments:

  1. It's been a very, very, very long time since I've seen one of those in the wild.

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  2. It looks interesting enough and has RWD. This is an epic candidate for a swap.

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  3. "Mazda has always been the Japanese equivalent to Chrysler (or maybe AMC...no...Subaru is AMC) -- not quite number one or two (Honda/Toyota and GM/Ford) in terms of sales..." So, in 1982 you're saying Mazda was the #3 Japanese car manufacturer, behind Toyota and Honda? I'm curious where these claims/statistics came from. Here's what I have for U.S. sales, according to my records:

    Toyota - 530,246
    Nissan - 470,246
    Honda - 365,865
    Mazda - 163,638
    Subaru - 150,335
    Mitsubishi - 5,260 + ~65,000 badged as Dodges + ~35,000 (best guess) badged as Plymouths = ~105,260
    Isuzu - 15,462

    My guess is Mazda was 4th, at least in the US. It doesn't really matter, but it is an interesting bit of trivia. If you're saying Mazda was #3 overall in the US, I don't think that's even remotely accurate.

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    1. Subaru? IMPOSSIBRU!!!!!!!!

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    2. There's a hilarious joke buried in an enigma inside a conundrum there, I'm sure of it. Or not.

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  4. Did this cost more Than $4800 When new?

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    1. I paid about $9800 for mine in 1981.

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    2. Also, I might add, these were really under powered cars. And there was a problem with premature head gasket failure. But to Mazda's credit, they totally reimbursed me for an entirely new top end when I was stranded in Death Valley after the head gasket failed. The head basically melted between two of the cylinders.

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    1. Good question, Sloth! The base 2-door MSRP was $7,545 and the Luxury was $9,345. The only car more costly in the Mazda line was the RX-7 and not by much. All others were cheaper.

      [img]http://www.productioncars.com/send_file.php/mazda_626_pair_uk_1982.jpg[/img]

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    2. Good info K2. Thanks for posting. Jon.

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    3. You're welcome, Jon! Thanks for the feedback. It's interesting to compare prices nowadays with back when. Calculating for inflation, $8K in 1982 is worth about $19,300 now. Base MSRP is about $21K on a MAZDA6 i Sport with standard options. So Mazda has held the line on this particular car for....33 years! Amazing and zoom-zoom, indeed.

      [img]http://www.southmotorsmazda.com/mm5/graphics/00000001/mazda-mazda6-sport.png[/img]

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    4. I don't know if those numbers interest anybody else, but they're fascinating to me. The fact that Mazda can produce such a nice car at such a reasonable price in this day and age is really great. Plus, I find it interesting that we're really back to it being all about the 4-cylinder with this particular model. A sign of the times, for sure.

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  6. I lost to one of these in a Chumpcar Double-7 Enduro a few years ago. I think it only pitted for fuel four times the entire weekend and won (actually placed) for that reason alone. Otherwise it was just really, really slow.

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    1. This is how the bunch running the 911 with the VW TDI in it in LeMons manages to get anywhere. You need a physically fit driver and a tube from his groin to the floorpan.

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  7. I feel that the wheels look equally at home on this car as on the RX7.

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  8. My former mother-in-law had one of these and I always appreciated that the rear window went down all the way, giving it a hardtop look (no B-pillar). It wasn't a great driver but it was fun enough but they never come up for sale anymore.

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  9. The transmissions from these at one time were highly sought after by the RX-7 racing crowd. Shortest factory gearing that was put into a Model M transmission. The entire guts can be swapped into a RX-7 transmission housing and the input shaft shortened. Makes a great cheater transmission.

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  10. I paid 10K For my new then 1979 RX-7 GS

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    1. That makes sense to me, JB1025. The base MSRP on the 79 GS was only $7,995, but it was easy to add a few extras and pump up the price another $1,000+. Of course, that's not really why yours cost $10K. The RX-7 was such a sensation (nice taste in cars, BTW!) at the time and I don't think Mazda really knew what they had on their hands yet and had under-priced them. Of course, the dealers knew and bumped up the prices! Just for comparison, an 81 GS base stickered for $9,895. Fantastic cars.

      [img]http://www.racingbeat.com/gallery/Mazda%20Ad%201980.jpg[/img]

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  11. Whoa this is pretty cool and haven't seen one in who knows how long. Being RWD this better end up with someone who intends to enjoy it! So much swap potential nowadays.

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