1987 Mazda 323 Base Station Wagon 1.6L gas 8v from North America


A decent little car with a tragic flaw (but a flaw unique to my car)


The transmission was reluctant to shift up; turned out to be a rotted vacuum hose.

Starter motor made horrible noises every fifth start, but it never died.

Ignition switch was touchy; the windshield wipers and A/C sometimes would not work until I gently jiggled the key.

Every 3000 miles or so, the car would lose power and hesitate. The timing would be adjusted. Changed the timing belt, but in 5000 miles the hesitation was back. At 120,000 miles, hesitation was awful (~5 seconds) and top speed was 35 MPH. Evil Mazda dealer put in new spark plugs (even though I told him to check the timing first), which didn't help. Then it was discovered that place where crankshaft meets the timing gear was broken. Cost to fix was more than the cost of the car, so I sold it for junk value. Evil Mazda dealer insisted that I pay for the cost of the spark plugs, but not labor.

General Comments:

It's hard for me not to like the car, because it was my first. It would have been much more reliable, considering its age, were it not for the busted crankshaft (I suspect the man who sold it to me knew about it). But I did get 20,000 miles for $1900.

The A/C was very cold, and the seats were quite comfortable. The three-speed transmission made the motor turn at 4000 rpm at 70 mph (speed limit), so it was noisy on interstate trips.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th February, 2001

1st Apr 2001, 21:29


I'd like to get more info about this crankshaft/timing belt break. The symptoms described by the owner of the 1987 Mazda 323 are identical to what I'm now experiencing with mine.

My last tune-up/rape cost $616 and the thing is still running rough.

Please either post my request for further info on the site asking for a follow-up with my email address, or alternatively please forward this email to the poster.

Dennis Guertin

Aylmer, Quebec.


31st Aug 2001, 14:51

I had a 1987 323LX for 11 years until the timing pulley broke off. The little nub of the crank shaft was still in it. It had about 130,000 miles and I was not kind to it. I loved it and would buy another one.

Jeff Younie

New Hampshire, USA.

13th Jul 2006, 22:50

13 July 2006

I am the original owner of my 1987 Mazda 323dx wagon. I can't say enough good things about this car. Currently I have 155,000 miles. I've pulled only the normal service for the car. I recently changed the timing belt, head gasket and other minor things. I drove the car in a conservative way. Never abusing the car. I expect another 50 to 100,000 miles. The car is great.