15 July 2019

More than an old car #110: Mazda 323


As I mentioned a few times already, I aim to cover both valuable and non-valuable old cars that are still in Singapore, simply because they are still a part of our automotive culture today. Let me introduce the humble Mazda Familia/323 for today!

The Mazda Familia (known as the 323 in export markets) was first conceived in the 1960s as Mazda wanted to expand along with the Japan economy. Designed by famed car designer Giorgetto Giugario, the first version was released in 1963, first as a 2-door wagon followed by a conventional sedan. Its name is Spanish for 'family' and was intended to represent the car for the whole family.

The 5th generation (BF series) was introduced in 1985 with an extensive makeover done to the car: it became more spacious and less wide. This was followed by a minor facelift in 1987, most notably to the headlights. A variety of body styles and engines types were available, such as this 1989 4-door sedan and 1992 5-door hatchback in this post, also known as the Familia Astina/323F. The Astina was unusual as it featured pop-up headlights, not something one would associate with a humble family car.

Both units were powered by a 1498 cc B5 i4 engine from what I understand. The sedan could reach a top speed of 160 km/h with an acceleration of 13.1 seconds [0-100 km/h], while the Astina was slightly faster at 187 km/h with an acceleration of 10.9 seconds [0-100 km/h]. The sedan was 4000 mm long and weighed 920 kg, compared to the Astina which was 4260 mm long and weighed 920 kg.

Production of the 5th generation ended in 1994, where it was replaced by the BH generation. Mazda 323s were sold here since 1977 by Asia Motor Company Pte Ltd, before it changed its name to Mazda Motor. However, it was subsumed under the Eurokars Group in 2011 due to declining sales. Many units plied the roads--they were as ubiquitous as the Corollas you see nowadays. Naturally, few people were sentimental and the vast majority were scrapped once the owners started to upgrade their rides. It was therefore quite surprising to see that these units were still around when I saw them. Unfortunately, they were also deregistered shortly afterwards.

I believe there are still a few survivors left, and I would like to appreciate these owners who still faithfully keep their bread-and-butter econoboxes despite their rather low monetary worth. It is after all, a piece of history to recognise and I hope this may be informational to those who are curious what their grandparents/parents were driving back then!

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