Junkyard Find: 1989 Mazda 929

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1989 mazda 929

In the late 1980s, otherwise known as the Before Lexus LS Era, American car shoppers didn’t have many choices for big Japanese luxury sedans. You had the Toyota Cressida, the Nissan Maxima, and that was pretty much it (nitpickers might add the Mitsubishi Diamante to this list, since it was possible to buy one in late 1989; the same could be said of the Lexus LS, of course). Or was it? Oh yes, there was also the Mazda 929, a car that never made much of an impact in North America. I owned an ’88 929 for a fairly brief period about ten years ago (I made a complicated four-cornered car deal that resulted in the 929 and a Volvo 244 being added to my fleet) and I thought it was a very good car. Since that time, I’ve kept my eyes open for 929s, finding about zero on the street and this ’91 in the junkyard so far. On a trip to Northern California yesterday, I spotted today’s ’89.

Rear-wheel drive, semi-imposing dimensions, and a potent (for 1989) 158-horsepower V6 made the 929 a solid rival for the Cressida. Who knows, it may have stolen a few sales from the BMW 5-series here and there.

18 valves, a number you’d expect to see in some obscure prewar French straight-nine flathead. Mazda went to a 24-valve version of the 3.0-liter V6 for the 929S version.

172,969 miles, which comes to just over 7,000 miles per year.

The leather in this 929 has seen better days, but you can see that this car had some credible luxury going on.

Known as the Luce in its native Japan, the 929 was Big Personal!

Eight grand less than those pricey Germans, points out James Garner.

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  • Sector 5 Sector 5 on Dec 14, 2013

    I remember this as an era of shocker parts prices for Mazda. Folks bought Mazda then found out. This 929 was a non-looker when large Mazda wasn't established. Buyers walked straight past.

  • Wannabe Wannabe on Dec 16, 2013

    I still have a 929 on the road. Just hit 130,000 miles. I was hoping it would make it to 25 years but it's not gonna get there. A pretty good car overall...great seats, comfortable, pretty big trunk, good visibility and a wonderful car for long highway drives. My wife and I got it because it was fairly luxurious, it sold at a fair price and had a lot of legroom in the back seat. It was a garage queen for years. My daughter still uses it to get to and from work locally. At the time it was derided as a a Japanese Buick. Its dependable, never left us stranded, and while not as fast or as much fun to drive as the Volvo 760 turbo we had for most of the same time, the 929 outlasted the Volvo by 10 years. The leather on the drivers' seat has worn thru to the foam but the rest of the seats look like they just came out of the showroom.

  • Zerofoo "Hyundais just got better and better during the 1990s, though, and memories of those shoddy Excels faded."Never. A friend had an early 90s Hyundai Excel as his college beater. One day he decided that the last tank of gas he bought was worth more than the car. He drove it to empty and then he and his fraternity brothers pushed it into the woods and left it there.
  • Kwik_Shift There are no new Renegades for sale within my geographic circle of up to 85 kms. Looks like the artificial shortage game. They bring one in, 10 buyers line up for it, $10,000 over MSRP. Yeah. Like with a lot of new cars.
  • Ribbedroof In Oklahoma, no less!
  • Ribbedroof Have one in the shop for minor front collision repairs right now,I've seen more of these in the comments than in the 30 years I've been in collision repair.
  • Tassos And all 3 were ordered by Fisker's mother. Seriously, given Fisker's terrible record of Failure in the past, only an utter loser, (for example, VGhost or Art Vandelay?), looking for a BEV terrible enough to be a proper replacement of his 11 mile range Fiat 500E, would order one of these. (apart from Fisker's mother)