Junkyard Find: 1994 Mazda Navajo LX

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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.

  • THX1136 Maybe Mark Worman/Graveyard Carz will see this, buy the thing and restore it to it's original condition.
  • THX1136 Fain's comments are ridiculous to these ears. "Struggling to get by. . ." - really? The only reason any would be struggling is due to living beyond said individuals means (spending money like the gubment does). Both political entities 'visiting' the situation is one more reason for this baby to vote for neither.
  • Sgeffe 400 horsepower? In a German 2-point-zero-tee?My God, that'll blow sky-high the day after the warranty expires!
  • EBFlex Did he deboard the plane with the baby steps? Anyway I called it. Right yet again:Jeff-“”I doubt President Biden would join striking UAW workers. It’s one thing to give support to strikers and another to join strikers on the picket line.”Well he’s a complete and total moron. So it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he joined them on the picket line. If an idiot would do it, then it’s something Brandon would do..”
  • Fred Trump's "concerted effort" will be to speak at a non-union plant. Don't forget he promised to keep Lordstown open.