Piston Slap: I Love The 80's. Or Not.

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap i love the 80 s or not

T.W. writes:

Hi Sajeev,

Is it nuts to buy an original, low mileage ‘88 Mazda 323GTX that has not been rallied to death, even if I don’t need another car and have no place to park it?

As you probably know these cars are usually spoken about with a hushed reverence from the rally car crowd, they’re quite rare, and I’ve wanted one for years. It’s over 20 years old so it will need paint and other assorted repairs, and parts are getting scarce as well, but it may be worth it.

I thinking more of a long term investment while understanding it’ll never have a return like a 69 Super Bee, GTO, or what have you.

Sajeev Answers:

I grew up with cars of this era, so I absolutely love the 323 GTX on principle alone. But don’t talk about investments and cars in the same sentence, that’s a terrible idea unless you sport a fatter wallet and higher tastes: so slap yourself on the wrist for that. Damn near any car from the 1980s is a terrible investment for years to come, but you got far bigger problems here.

An investment-grade (so to speak) car needs a fully enclosed garage. Original tires (if equipped) are but one thing that builds up a car’s value if they are in good shape, and that’s not gonna happen sitting outside. More to the point, if you have “no place to park it” then you have no business looking at a clean 323 GTX.

It’s one thing to erode the value of a GTO, Talbot-Lago, etc with outside storage. Those rides always have a buyer ready to capitalize on your mistake. But a Mazda 323 GTX?

Not so much. Let the quality slip due to outdoor storage or a financial bind (or anything else personally unpleasant) puts the car at risk of being sold to someone with less-than-archival intentions. And three owners from now, it might be in the scrapper. Or in a 24 Hours of LeMons race: I saw one particularly spectacular Taurus SHO meet that fate after its previous owner sold it to the LeMons racers for pennies on the dollar. The (supposed) aftermarket differential alone was worth as much as the car’s asking price.

Take a page from my book; do the car a favor and admire from a distance. Wannabe classics like the 323 GTX need a more entrenched collector to take advantage of Mazda’s future collectability potential.

(Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com)

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3 of 24 comments
  • Newcarscostalot Newcarscostalot on Apr 27, 2010

    If anyone is interseted, I know where there is a 1985 (I think) Mazda 626 LX 4dr Hatch. 5spd 4cyl. Needs a timing belt/tune-up/Batt. It has the original wheels and stereo! All for only a hundred bucks! I also know where there is an early 90's Buick Roadmaster with the supercharged V8 for 800 bucks. The buick would be nice to own, but the Mazda would get better mileage, I'm sure.

  • Newcarscostalot Newcarscostalot on Apr 27, 2010

    I checked your Facebook page, and we are not close. I live in WA State and you in South Carolina. Just wanted to let ya know. Sorry!

  • Kcflyer on one hand it at least wont have dirty intake valves like Honda's entire lineup of direct injection ice vehicles. on the other hand a CRV offers more room, more range, faster fueling and lower price, hmm
  • Tassos BTW I thought this silly thing was always called the "Wienermobile".
  • Tassos I have a first cousin with same first and last name as my own, 17 years my junior even tho he is the son of my father's older brother, who has a summer home in the same country I do, and has bought a local A3 5-door hatch kinds thing, quite old by now.Last year he told me the thing broke down and he had to do major major repairs, replace the whole engine and other stuff, and had to rent a car for two weeks in a touristy location, and amazingly he paid more for the rental ( Euro1,500, or $1,650-$1,700) than for all the repairs, which of course were not done at the dealer (I doubt there was a dealer there anyway)
  • Tassos VW's EV program losses have already been horrific, and with (guess, Caveman!) the Berlin-Brandenburg Gigafactory growing by leaps and bounds, the future was already quite grim for VW and the VW Group.THis shutdown will not be so temporary.The German Government may have to reach in its deep pockets, no matter how much it hates to spend $, and bail it out."too big to fail"?
  • Billccm I had a 1980 TC3 Horizon and that car was as reliable as the sun. Underappreciated for sure.