Remembering Japanese cars from the past

DOTS: Mazda 323 mk1

In the October 2009 issue of Practical Classics the editors wondered about an eBay sale of an almost mint Mazda 323 mk1 with a broken clutch: in their eyes the car sold for a large sum of money (over 1000 pounds). For classic Japanese cars of that era that amount of money is actually a bargain. On the other side they commented correctly: try to find another one in the same state!

Well I did not succeed in doing that, but instead I found this good looking 323:
Down on the Street: Mazda 323 mk1
Down on the Street: Mazda 323 mk1

I was a bit surprised to find the car for sale at (Dutch Craigslist) for only 950 euros!

From far away it appears to be in a good state! But getting closer reveals some flaws:
Down on the Street: Mazda 323 mk1
Down on the Street: Mazda 323 mk1

V6? Good joke guys! If the car would have been lowered and sitting on some stretched rubber I may have bought it… ;)
No, the car actually runs the original 1.3 liter Mazda TC engine, mated with a 4 speed manual.

Parked in this way it looks like it is participating in a drag race!
Down on the Street: Mazda 323 mk1
Down on the Street: Mazda 323 mk1

The interior was in good condition: the seats are half (fake) leather, half tweed. The front seats do have covers on them, so it a big question what’s under that cover… The dashboard looked completely original and not hacksawed to make a modern car radio fit.

The car isn’t really rusty. All the rust I saw is only surface rust. In some places the car already had its crusty parts repaired:
Down on the Street: Mazda 323 mk1
Down on the Street: Mazda 323 mk1

So I’d say, not a bad RWD car for only 950 euros! It may be a bithigher priced than the one sold on eBay. However this 323 is drivable, while the one on eBay could not move by itself…

In case you are interested, you can find the ad here!

BTW: I know, the Mazda 323 mk1 is actually the Mazda Familia mk4. Europe already suffered from a renaming scheme due to Mazda and Peugeot fighting over the 808 naming scheme of the Mazda Familia mk3. Mazda changed its name to 818 and by the time the mk4 got launched they decided to rename almost its complete lineup to the x2x scheme. The Familia became the 323, the Capella the 626 and the Luce the 929.


  1. Phil

    I love these little 323s.
    If this was in New Zealand it would probably fetch twice that asking price easily, these 323s are sought after for rotary conversions. Since this is both a 2 door and it has the early front end design (bug eyes) it’s worth more than a 4 door or a later model square light car.

  2. Dave

    Love the Blue 323, Great Find! Its getting rarer to see a blue one for sale –

    By coincidence I was the guy who bought the one mentioned in Practical Classics!
    I Thought you might like to know I managed to find a replacement new clutch on ebay for £4.95; So thought I may as well take it for a visit to my local track for a watch – turns out someone snapped it while it was parked…….
    I bought the car because it was unusual, but it wasnt till I done some research that I realised how little were still on the road!
    I’m definately going to keep it as original as possible, I guess Im abit of a stickler when it comes to originality

    Anyway, Nice to see an interesting article!


  3. banpei

    Your 323 looks amazing! And 4.95 for a replacement clutch is next to nothing! ;)
    Got to love classics for that! :)

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