Rare Rides: The Very Rare 1982 Mazda 626 Two-door Sedan
Today’s Rare Ride is boxy, brown, and well-equipped. It’s an unpopular variant of a less-than-mainstream midsize car of the Eighties. And at 38 years old, it’s managed to escape the rusty fate to which most all of these succumbed long ago.
Let’s check out the 1982 Mazda 626.
Mazda’s first 626 carried the name Capella in its home market, and 616 or 618 elsewhere. Introduced for the 1970 model year, it was a brand new midsize offering from the Hiroshima manufacturer. Capella filled a product void between the more compact Familia (323) and full-size Luce (929). The first generation lasted through 1978, and was only briefly offered in the U.S. market as the 618, equipped with a 1.8-liter inline-four.
For the 1979 model year, the second-generation “CB” Capella debuted globally. Sold, as before, in two- and four-door guises, the first generation’s two-door coupe shape gave way to a boxy and more conservative sedan form with the second-gen model.
Dimensions were largely unchanged over the first-generation car, as Mazda kept its successful midsize formula intact. In an upward move in terms of performance and appeal for North America, the Familia’s engine offerings grew larger than before. Displacement ranged from 1.6 to 2.0 liters, all of inline-four configuration; gone was the first-gen’s Wankel engine option. Transmissions were four- or five-speed manuals, or a three-speed automatic manufactured by Jatco.
When it came to exports of the second-gen Capella, Mazda changed its naming strategy: All export markets received the car as 626, except for the UK, where it was called Montrose. Mazda sent only higher-trim 2.0-liter 626s to the United States, complete with chunky impact bumpers. As a result, Japanese customers who sprung for a more expensive 626 also received American bumpers. Free upgrade!
Two years in, and Mazda reworked the 626 for the ’81 model year. Additional black trim appeared around the exterior, and new headlamps and grille appeared. 1981 was the first year for revised emissions equipment on U.S.-bound cars; catalytic converters appeared. That meant the engine’s power dropped from 80 zippy horses to 74, and 105 lb-ft of torque.
Accompanying the 1981 changes was a new top-tier LX trim, which featured much more standard equipment than other models. Seeking American sales growth, Mazda made the suspension of the 626 softer for 1981. It seems the company immediately wondered if it had gone too far, as 1982 models saw the suspension re-stiffened.
By 1982 the winds of change were blowing for Japanese cars, and the longitudinal/rear-drive layout had to go. For the 1983 model year, the 626 switched to a more modern transverse engine layout, and front-wheel drive. And of course the 6 continues on today in similar fashion.
Today’s luxurious LX Rare Ride was for sale in Florida recently. With just under 52,000 miles and in spectacular condition, the two-door sold in a couple of weeks for $4,995 or thereabouts.
Cyberfreak619 on Jul 10, 2021
I wanted one of these so bad! The one that i test drove in '81 was a 1980 m/y. At the time I was driving a '72 Toyota Hilux truck(yep, the one with the goofy blinkers on the top front fenders). The 626 seemed fast compared to my truck. Mom had a fit when i came home with it. I was still at home(17y/o) & she was the boss so i took it back. I thought that car was so cool though.
Pishta on Apr 29, 2022
Friend had the 2 door and we had the 4 door 82 model iirc. The 82 had a more refined grill but ours was the 5sp and his was an auto. That auto car was a pig off the line but cruised nicely. Yes the suspension was softer than our 82 and I thought the auto trans made it heavier. He blew an axle retainer trying to do a donut with 3 passengers in it and the rear tire came out! We lived the rear seat room of the 4dr and got the next generation after this one. Much more power, better suspension. Blew head gasket.....I'd buy another rwd 626 if I could find one but they are scarce as in I've not seen one on road in 10 years.
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