Junkyard Find: 1994 Mazda Navajo LX

junkyard find 1994 mazda navajo lx
Mazda and Ford go way back when it comes to the badge-engineering game, what with all those Mazda-built Ford Couriers, Mazda-based Ford Escorts, Mazda-badged Ford Rangers, and so on. Since I love weird examples of badge engineering in the junkyard, I’m always on the lookout for the likes of a Saab-badged Chevy or Acura-badged Isuzu, and so I have been keeping my eyes open for a rare Mazda-ized Ford Explorer for quite a while. Most of them got crushed long ago, as the early Explorer has very little value today (due to its laughably small size and lack of luxury features, by 21st-century American-market suburban commuter-truck standards), but this ’94 just showed up in a Denver self-service yard.
During the first half of the 1990s, Americans thought the first-gen Explorer was the ideal replacement for stodgy sedans, wearisome wagons, and ho-hum hatchbacks. Mazda wanted in on some of those sales, and so the Navajo appeared for the 1991 model year and remained available through 1994.
The Navajo came in two-door configuration only, and the only differences between it and its two-door Explorer sibling were the grille and exterior trim.
You could get any engine you wanted in your 1994 Explorer/Navajo, as long as it was the 4.0-liter Cologne pushrod V6. The Cologne goes way back in Ford history, first appearing in the 1965 Taunus and continuing in production into our current decade.
Trucks tend to rack up fairly high mileage totals before being discarded, and this one came close to the magical 200,000-mile mark.
The parking stickers indicate that it spent some time living on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.
If you want fitted seat covers for a Navajo, you’ll need to get ones made for Explorers.
There’s enough rust to scare off potential buyers of cheap four-wheel-drive vehicles, of which there are many in Colorado. These days, there’s such a glut of bigger, plusher used SUVs that the bouncy, trucky, door-challenged Navajo doesn’t command much resale value.
Native American-approved (in the alternative reality portrayed by Mazda’s American marketers).
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  • MWolf MWolf on Jul 03, 2019

    I had a '94 Explorer XLT. They could be had with a lot of pretty cool options for the time that rivaled luxury cars. No, not kidding. My XLT had leather, auto headlights, keyless entry, power seats with inflatable lumbar and bolsters, and power everything. Other available goodies mine didn't have was premium audio with a JBL subwoofer and a sunroof. They could be had fully loaded or absolutely spartan to the point of having no rear defroster. I'm not saying they were great, as the A4LD transmission was a bad transmission to begin with and a horrid choice for the Explorer, and the 4.0 had issues with cracked heads and spark knock. But it could be had with the sort of options that luxury cars of the era boasted. It's just that the rest of it was prone to rusty failure. If it had good maintenance and wasn't driven hard, maybe okay. But that doesn't happen 3 owners down the line with someone snuffing out Marlboros in the cupholder because the ashtray's full.

  • Josh Josh on Feb 07, 2020

    How many Explorer XLs were made? I've seen them WITHOUT rear wipers, body-colored B- and C-pillars (like early DN5 Taurus Ls and MT5s), crank windows and no tape players. Same V6 as the others, but also 4x2. And in both 2- and 4-door versions. Most were loaded XLTs or Eddie Bauers. Other rare SUVs--Grand Cherokee SEs with the 4-liter I-6s, crank windows and 5-speed sticks.

  • 2ACL What tickles me is that the Bronco looks the business with virtually none of the black plastic cladding many less capable crossovers use.
  • IBx1 For all this time with the hellcat engine, everything they made was pathetic automatic scum save for the Challenger. A manual Durango, Grand Cherokee, Charger, 300C, et al would have been the real last gasp for driving enthusiasts. As it is, the party is long over.
  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
  • Arthur Dailey I am normally a fan of Exner's designs but by this time the front end on the Stutz like most of the rest of the vehicle is a laughable monstrosity of gauche. The interior finishes suit the rest of the vehicle. Corey please put this series out of its misery. This is one vehicle manufacturer best left on the scrap heap of history.
  • Art Vandelay I always thought what my Challenger really needed was a convertible top to make it heavier and make visability worse.