It’s always baffling when you find out there’s a car you never knew existed. When searching for Ford Festiva images – honestly – I bumped into this press shot of the Mazda MR-90, and it completely caught me off guard. What was it? A Hyundai Pony with Mazda badges?
Badge engineering doesn’t go that way in this case, and the MR-90 is just something refreshed. You’re looking at the 1977-onwards Mazda 323 GLC, only wearing the GC generation 626’s face for the Indonesian market.
You can see the basis here. Just by altering the front clip to make it longer and suitable for the wide rectangular lights, mounting on new bumpers back and front and replacing the side trim with a sticker placed lower, the car was suitably modernised. It didn’t make it prettier, on the contrary, but the RWD platform was still good enough to be utilized in 1990. Around the same time, the FWD 323:s were already manufactured in South Africa, for example.
You can see the indentation in the C-pillar here, a carryover from the old GLC days.
The same RWD structure also served as the station wagon VanTrend, which was built as late as 1997. Wikipedia, the source of these three last photos, says the engine was the 1.4-litre four on all counts, producing 70 horsepower. The article also says the platform was changed to the GC 626’s front-wheel-drive setup, but that sounds a touch far-fetched.
[Images: Mazda, sabung.hamster/Wikimedia]