Maz­das of the Era

New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature Car 1974 Mazda 808 Coupe -

The Mazda Grand Fa­milia, as it was known in Ja­pan, was sold as the Mazda 808 in some ex­port mar­kets in­clud­ing Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and the Mazda 818 in many oth­ers (pre­sum­ably due to the us­age of num­bers with a mid­dle zero by the likes of Peu­geot). The Mazda 808 body-style con­fig­u­ra­tions on of­fer were the two-door coupé, the four-door sedan and the five-door sta­tion wagon. The Grand Fa­milia of­fered only in-line four-cylin­der en­gines. In Ja­pan, the largely iden­ti­cal ro­tary-pow­ered ver­sions were mar­keted as the Mazda Sa­vanna, with ex­port mar­kets tak­ing this model as the RX-3. At the time of its launch the Mazda 808 was much un­der­rated, although the New Zealand buyer did not have much of a choice of ve­hi­cles and power op­tions, if any. Some 808s came with three-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sions. At the time it was con­sid­ered to be a rea­son­able-per­form­ing ve­hi­cle, but over time its abil­i­ties have been some­what sur­passed. How­ever this av­er­age per­for­mance, to­gether with the ease with which the front can be swapped over to re­sem­ble the Mazda RX-3, saw the en­thu­si­asts who lusted af­ter more power slot­ting ro­tary en­gines into them, along with the cus­tom­ary low­ered sus­pen­sion, big fat ex­hausts, and fancy wheels — not to men­tion fancy paint jobs and sound sys­tems that cost more than the cars!

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