1992 Mazda 121 DB 1.3 from Australia and New Zealand
Very reliable, durable and economical. A little sporty too
Rear brake drums had to be machined at 135,000km.
Radiator replaced at 145,000km.
Water pump replaced as a precaution at 145,000km.
Timing belt replaced at 145,000km.
Very practical, very cheap to run, and quite fun to drive around town.
It is underpowered though, my 1.3 single point injected engine is mated to a 4 speed auto and power steering, making this car no road rocket.
As a result of the car being underpowered, it is OK around town, but not good on highways, as it is difficult to remain at 110km/h, especially uphills. The engine is also very noisy at high speeds. Car also feels unstable due to its light weight and overly light steering at 110km/h.
I think though this is a great car for around town, as it is fun to drive, go kart like. Ride is very firm, sporty, but not very comfortable. General quality is excellent, with very little going wrong with the car over the last 20 years. There were no faults and no repairs needed for the first 19 years!
Car is definitely a keeper. Unfortunately there is a bit of rust around the rear windscreen now, typical of cars of this era. I think I can squeeze a few more trouble free years out of her though!
Brakes are excellent, although no ABS is available. Safety is a bit of a concern, considering its poor crash performance compared with modern cars. I have fitted good quality tires to improve primary safety.
The interior is very basic, and the boot opening too small. However, I love this car for its strengths, and can forgive its weaknesses!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 16th March, 2013
17th Oct 2014, 06:14
I am the original writer of the review above. I haven't needed to do anything mechanically to the car since the review, almost 18 months ago! The car is truly amazing from a reliability and cost of ownership perspective. There are a few little faults with her now... rust has increased a little around the rear window, so I bogged up the holes with some Spakfiller I had left over. That stopped the leaks, but doesn't look that great LOL.
The auto trans has started to judder a bit, not that unusual I guess, it still has the original auto trans fluid in it! I have been told that if I get the trans flushed, that problem may go away. All in all though, even if the car died tomorrow, it has been so cheap to run, and has put up with my neglect... I wouldn't complain.
However, I believe with minimal maintenance I will still be driving her in 2-3 years time. I refuse to upgrade to a newer car while she is going so well, I'd rather invest my money! I'm going see if I can make her last until she is 30 (currently 22 years old).
2nd Feb 2015, 06:13
I agree, I purchased my 121 in 1992, it is still running very well now, only used a couple of times a week, mainly for shopping unless it's the doctors as we are both pensioners. I would love a later Mazda, but I guess this will have to do me, as I am 84 years young and still driving OK.
7th Nov 2015, 07:39
Great little car, however getting parts for them is starting to get hard. Mazda spare parts kind of laugh at you when you go there! I remember taking a part (with part number there, not on their database!) Mines still going well, however, a relay on the fan is worn out. Mazda don't stock it, probably off to the junk yard soon, as she's overheating. I wonder would a relay off of a old Ford Fiesta or 121 Metro fit? I think they are related cars (with the 1.3 engine).
17th Nov 2015, 02:11
I have a 1994 121, can someone tell me if it has a fuel light? What side is it on if there is LOL?
27th Nov 2015, 07:31
I don't think there's a fuel light. I'm a long time (10 years) 121 driver, and I've never seen a fuel light come on. I have driven very close to empty a few times too!
30th May 2017, 07:59
Original reviewer back again. Still drive the car to work daily, with few problems. Car wasn't running very smoothly recently, so replaced the engine computer from a wreckers for $10. I have a problem now with the fan relay not working, Mazda no longer stock the part, oh well. Suspension now feels worn, but car is still reliable at 25 years old with 180,000 km on her, most of which were short trips. I only paid $5,000 for the car back in 2006, very happy.