Be a Passenger: 1988 Mazda 929

Mazda’s new ad U.S.campaign “Driving Matters” is an extension of their “Be A Driver” campaign in its home country of Japan.  The tagline speaks to the focus the company has on being involved in the act of driving vs. a mere passenger in an appliance.  Mazda also claims that there is a little Miata DNA in all of its current lineup.  But 30 years ago, the opposite was true.  Find this 1988 Mazda 929 for sale in Ocean Park, WA for $2,495 via craigslist.

The Mazda Luce was Mazda’s executive class sedan.  The fifth generation of the Luce or HC series debuted in the the 929 in 1987, to take on the Acura Legend.  It was a big, bland rear driver with Mazda’s first V6, a cast iron block, aluminum head, SOHC, 60 degree 3 liter, producing just over 200 hp.  In the JDM, you could get it with a turbocharged 13B rotary.

As it was aimed at the luxury buyer in the U.S., it came with such niceties like automatic climate control (of sorts), adjustable shocks and a swing switch.  To go along with the swing switch, you also got a lighter and an ashtray for later.

Remember when you could get an interior in colors other than black or dark grey?  Interestingly, for a car that the ad says has all the options, the seats are that lovely 80’s velour and not leather.  The sellers mother-in-law did keep it nice over the car’s 115K miles, however.  You could get a shift-it-yourself five speed, but most 929’s in the States were like this one, automatic.

Back when it was new, the 929 was considered a big car, measuring 194 inches in length and weighing just a smidgen over 3,000 lbs.  Compare that with the current Camry which measures 191 inches in length and weighs in at 3,240 lbs with the 268hp 3.5 liter V6.

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Gianni is Daily Turismo’s Pacific Northwest correspondent.  He worked at a Mazda dealer washing cars in the late 80’s.  He drove a few 929’s, but doesn’t remember anything about them, other than thinking they were big boats, compared to his CRX.