1988 Mazda 323 SE 1.6L from North America
Over-looked and under-loved, this is a great car!!
When I got the car home after I bought it, the next day it wouldn't start. The coil wire was spitting sparks out the side. I replaced it, and it has started reliably since.
The clutch was not grabbing until the very top of the pedal. I adjusted it and could drive normally.
The front suspension makes rackety noises as I go around a turn. The previous owner says that this is the U-joints, and that the car has been doing that for two years, at 100 miles per day. This is scheduled to be repaired next month, when I can afford it.
The parking lot bumper side trim has come off. Oh Well.
The radiator is leaking a little. I put water in. The previous owner said that this was a replacement radiator. I need to check the installation.
The stereo is original, and the tape player is broken, as well as the left channel. Annoying.
Some of the glass lenses on the running lights are holed, and I will need to replace them.
I bought this car for $700 and I did not expect that it would be in as good condition as it is. 212K miles, and the paint is shiny, the body is straight, except for parking lot dings. The interior has no rips or worn-out seats or such, except for the steering wheel, but a cover fixed that. I need to make some repairs, but overall, the condition is impressive.
The car gets great gas mileage (I clocked 27.3 mpg in my usual city/freeway loop).
The styling is late eighties euro-sedan. This is a four-door, with a folding back-seat. It swallowed a full size futon and frame, with room for a passenger. It is a comfortable car, and the driving position is excellent for my 6-foot frame. The mirrors rock. I have been told that the back seats are big enough for people my size. My 400 lb. 6'2" roommate said that he can fit into my car, and that he would own one.
I haven't had this car above 70 MPH. So I don't know about the autobahn characteristics of the car. I do know that in town, from stop light to stoplight, I can (usually) get out in front of the next car. I do get pushed back into the seat!
Even though the previous owner was an abusive and neglectful owner, this car survived his not caring for the car. That this car has as few mechanical and body/trim/interior problems as it does, is a tribute to the excellence of it's manufacture. That it is geared to be a performer in traffic, with acceleration, cornering, and great brakes (150 ft stop from 60 MPH) (turning circle radius=15.7 feet!) makes this a car that can stand up to the 21st century. Plus, there is no dangly stuff to scrape when you hit one of them parking lot hazards.
My research shows that there are various models of this car, so find the one that you like, but you will be happy with this one!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 8th July, 2002