1990 Mazda 323 Base 1.8L from North America
A reliable spartan hatchback for people on the go
New O2 sensors.
Refurbished radiator and new hoses.
New rear brake system (under-body rust deteriorated drums). ~$700.
New gas tank (old one rusted out)
New Exhaust system and muffler.
Rear hatch seal problems. Replaced gasket with used one, and situation improved.
Lots of under-body rust, rust inside struts, under seats etc.
New front wheel bearings (~$400). Loud whrrrr sound started after rough drive through mud, bearing seals were shot.
Oil burning from engine. Engine ran solid, and passed emissions testing, but barely.
The test of a car is not how it works new. And not even necessarily how well it works after 10 years of meticulous care. The test of a car is how well it runs after 10 years of abuse.
After buying it I discovered my car had quite a history.. it was in a hard front end collision, and was rebuilt. The under-body was badly rusted due to being driven on salty roads. Despite all the abuse it had taken, the car ran very solid and jumped to life every time I touched the key. If the car had not been so rusty on the underside, I think I would have seen hardly any problems at all.
This car was the base model, with no side moldings, no rear wiper, no power steering etc. This is really an asset on older cars, as there is very little that can go wrong. The interior was spacious and comfy in the back for either people or lots of boxes.
The car was sold to a family member who promptly let it run out of oil. No comment. I think I could have seen 300,000 on this engine otherwise. The transmission never gave me a reason to think about it, and it just did as it was supposed to without incident.
The automatic version is quite gutless, but I have seen Manual transmission vehicles zip around quite nicely. Don't expect zip from the auto, but there is room in this car for a sports-car driver in the std.
I highly reccomend the Mazda 323 to anybody looking for a cheap hatchback with cheap and seldom repairs. There are lots of econo-boxes out there, but few of them can boast the reliablity of an import engine, and so many simple systems that simply work. I bought a car with a Mazda V6 in it based on this engine's reliability.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 28th March, 2005