Junkyard Find: 1983 Mazda GLC Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin

After visiting the lowest-mile early Mazda GLC imaginable, I’ve been looking out for more GLCs in the junkyard. Until the 1981 model year, all the GLCs (known as the Familia or 323 outside of North America) were rear-wheel-drive and had nearly identical chassis to the early RX-7s. Mazda finally got on the front-wheel-drive bandwagon with this version, which I found in a Northern California self-serve yard earlier in the month.

These things actually were great little cars, simple, tough, and cheap. I recall most of these being hatchbacks back in the 80s, but I’ve found exactly two front-wheel-drive GLCs in junkyards recently and both were sedans.

The base two-door hatch listed at $5,295, while the base sedan went for $6,245. That explains the popularity of the hatchbacks, though the ’83 Civic sedan listed at a princely $6,849. $5,616 was the price for an ’83 Chevette four-door hatchback, if you were more concerned about number of doors than things like build quality, comfort, interior space, or performance.

Check out this in-dash Clarion AM/FM radio. Can you believe thieves used to steal these things?

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • 50merc 50merc on Feb 27, 2012

    My second Mazda was an '81 four door hatchback, blue in and out. And it WAS a Great Little Car, very commodious for the size, cheap to run, fun to drive. But it wasn't as zippy after I had the dealership add air conditioning; that little engine definitely felt the drag of the compressor. Mazda knew what it was doing in the 80's. A shame they've lost their way with oddball styling. And of course, a car like the GLC would violate a zillion safety standards nowadays.

  • Silverkris Silverkris on Feb 28, 2012

    When I worked in Taiwan in the late 80's-early 90's I drove the locally-assembled equivalent, called the Ford Laser. It was a 1984 4-door sedan, with a 1.5L engine, equipped with an automatic, which was rare on cars of that class and era. Very reliable, simple mechanically (with a manual choke). The main competitor's model of the Laser was the Yue Loong (locally assembled Nissan) Sunny or Sentra. The general rule of thumb was that the Ford models had somewhat heavier sheet metal but consumed more fuel, while the Yue Loong were more fuel efficient but had lighter metal, which wasn't as durable in a fender bender.

  • Cprescott I'm sure this won't matter to the millions of deceived Honduh owners who think the company that once prided itself on quality has somehow slipped in the real world. Same for Toyoduhs. Resting on our Laurel's - Oh, what a feeling!
  • Jrhurren I had this happen numerous times with my former Accord. It usually occurred when on a slow right curve in the road. Somehow the system would get confused and think the opposite lane (oncoming traffic) was an impending head-on collision.
  • Cprescott The Ford Shamaro is ugly, thick bodied, and a Mustang pretender.
  • Analoggrotto Speaking of mud, does anyone here enjoy naked mud wrestling?
  • Jkross22 Nope. Too expensive, too little wear. Besides, there are so many great all seasons that are great to use that last longer, the use case for summer tires has gotten smaller.