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Fastback Friday: Mass Transit Madness, Part One – The Mazda MX-3

I frequently use the train to get to work – yeah, I’m a car guy, but the daily commute takes the fun out of driving, and that’s a quality I’d like to keep.  So… it’s off to the train station several times a week – fortunately at my terminus is a pretty large park-and-ride lot that I can detour through to see what’s being used as daily beaters out here in the ‘burbs (I have a reverse commute – I live close to downtown and work in the suburbs).

Surprisingly, today’s featured car caught my eye – surprising because when you see a mid-90s hatchback, you expect color.  In-your-face hues like magenta, teal and copper. 

So for those philistines in the audience who are anti-skittles-colors, here’s an MX-3 in white.  You’ll have to deal with the blob shape for now, but at least it doesn’t look like a kitchen appliance, right?   Today’s MX-3 features that jewel of a V6 – you know the one that displaces just 1.8 liters?  The smallest ever installed in a US mass market car?  It also looks to be in pretty good condition with the exception of some easily-fixed front end damage.

Someday, I will own one of these – perhaps for autocrossing,  doing time as a commuter or, like this one, in an anonymous parking lot somewhere.  Or, even though I’m a hatchback enthusiast, I have a crazy idea to remove the hatch from one of these and turn it into the world’s most useless pickup – a MX-chero if you will.  That’s of course after I win the lottery and have the spare greenbacks to build a 30-car garage to hold all the positively stupid vehicles I would buy.

  • Devin

    Here's a potentially controversial opinion: Did Mazda have the best designs of the early '90s? They had a jellybean aesthetic going on, but they were able to craft that into seriously handsome vehicles. I think I might actually like all of them, as well as thinking there are a few genuine classics in there – NA Miata and RX7 for two – and I can't think of another manufacturer from the era I can say that about.

    • MVEilenstein

      A lot of people hated the 929, but I appreciated the effort.

      Off-topic, I was always fond of the Camry coupe. Probably because they were so rare. With a 5-speed, I was in love.

      • facelvega

        Without the 929, there could never have been an Azera. I may be the only person in the world under 40 who actually likes both those cars.

    • Kogashiwa

      Concur. The FD RX-7 is possibly the most beautiful car ever made in Japan, and the 929 was a very elegant design as well (that no one bought, however); also the Millenia (the singular car with the plural name) was an excellent design. (The tiny supercharged Miller-cycle V6 didn't hurt it either.) Even the humble 626 had a certain grace about it.

    • <img src="http://i59.photobucket.com/albums/g282/aroymak/MX6%20Misc/107969-64143.jpg&quot; width="420">
      Don't forget the GE-based MX-6. As timless as the Probe was dated. Although I'd prefer mine with spoiler delete.

      • dukeisduke

        I love those MX-6s, but it's tough finding one in decent shape.

      • Jay

        Decent enough design, but I think it might fail the badge-remove test, as in: if you removed the badge, how many people would be able to immediately identify it as a Mazda, and not some other Japanese make.

    • facelvega

      The problem with those 90s Mazdas is that they look like hell once they get scratched, scraped, or faded. They can go from handsome to crapmobile very quickly. But I'd drive an MX3/5/6 without hesitation. I might even go for the I4 version of the 3 or 6 over the V6– much better fuel economy as a beater, and lighter up front for slightly better handling. Also, the much-touted "gem" 1.8 liter was substantially the same as the 2.5 liter in all those MX-6es and Probes at the junkyard– it's an easy swap to the more powerful engine, which despite being larger in displacement takes up the same amount of space under the hood.

      • Devin

        I think the only thing that looks better when scratched, scraped or faded is pickup trucks.

        • facelvega

          Yes, but something like a volvo or subaru of the same years hides the wear a lot better. For 90s cars in particular, it seems to me that this works like clothing: casual clothes still look alright when they're ruffled, but just a little fraying and dirt can make a business suit slide into street bum territory.

      • Maymar

        Even today, Mazda sadly hasn't gotten that whole rustproofing thing. There are few relatively late-model cars that have horrendous rust like the occasional 3.

    • Manic_King

      I'd say Mazda had some great ideas even earlier, most of the 626 Coupes are very good looking IMO:

      <img src="http://www.autogush.com/images/mazda-626-coupe-04.jpg"&gt;

      And I like Xedos6, too.

      <img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-UhxpXEWcTBw/ThmX-vcbzmI/AAAAAAAAAK8/CcSUswDXBSE/s1600/galerieMazda-Xedos-6-V6-mNyQ.jpg&quot; width="493">

      • Van_Sarockin

        Fantastic box flares. And that coupe design is classically elegant.

      • Dean Bigglesworth

        I really like that 626 Coupe.And are those TSW Hockenheims? It's been ages since i last saw a car with those wheels.

        • Manic_King

          TSW had a flash in the pan success with these "center lock nut, like in racing" wheel designs and then disappeared completely. Not many others copied AFAIK, so probably these are the originals.

  • buzzboy7

    All I know is, they are bloody fast around a LeMons race
    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/SUK0yh.jpg&quot; width="600">

  • Jethrine

    "the world’s most useless pickup – a MX-chero if you will"

    How about a wagon-shaped hatch replacement to create a PulsarMX.

    I wonder what happened to all the second generation PulsarNX accesory notchbacks or wagonbacks when the cars died?
    Maybe in corners of garages with orphan snow tires?

    • Van_Sarockin

      Sounds good. I've often wondered what became of all those Pulsar accessory backs – I don't think I've ever seen one on a car. They all seem to have been shipped as notchbacks.