By on December 3, 2020

Today’s Rare Ride comes to us courtesy of commenter Bumpy ii, who linked this imported JDM Mazda on the Thunderbird Rare Ride posted a few weeks ago.

Let’s check out a compact five-door liftback with a very small V6.

In the late Eighties, Mazda wanted to add a bit of upmarket excitement and sportiness to its everyday Familia (that’s a Protegé to you). So, with the debut of the sixth-generation (BG) Familia, the previously stodgy five-door hatchback was transformed into a five-door fastback instead and received an additional pronoun at the end of its name: Astina. Offered between 1989 and 1994, the Astina was distinctly different from the standard Familia. It used a unique platform, CB, which was not shared with any other Mazda. CB was derived from the upscale CA platform, which was used for the Xedos 6 (a car that looked exactly like a smaller Millennia, because it was).  Astina reached even higher when it debuted in the Japanese market as the luxuriously reworked Eunos 100. In addition to the platform, the Astina stood out from Familia with its sportier shape, unique front and rear clips, and pop-up headlamps. The Astina was distributed throughout Europe as the 323F.

The seventh-generation Familia (BH) debuted in Japan for 1995, but an exciting new Astina debuted slightly earlier, for the 1994 model year. Mazda felt this new version of the Astina deserved a new name, and the sleek five-door fastback was now called Lantis and wore no Familia badging. Designed by former Porsche employees, it was marketed as a four-door coupe before such nomenclature was en vogue.

The Astina and Lantis used four engines in total. Base power arrived via a 1.5-liter inline-four of 87 horsepower, flanked by a 1.6 of 88 horses and a 1.8 of 115. The 1.8 was the top engine available on the Astina, but the Lantis upped the ante with the availability of a tiny 2.0-liter V6 which produced 147 horses. Transmissions on offer were a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic shared with the Tracer. The V6 was a part of Mazda’s push toward luxury at the time, the brand operating upscale Enfini and Eunos dealerships in Japan, stocking all of them with similar product in different trims. The Lantis was sold at all three dealership chains.

The sportiest Lantis was Mazda’s version, the Type R. Sold only within Japan, it used a tuned version of the standard KF-DE V6, the KF-ZE. The tuning meant a jump in power to 160 horses, which were reigned in via the standard limited-slip differential. Lantis Type R also featured sporty exterior styling via spoilers, skirts, and body-colored trim pieces.

The Lantis remained in production through 1998, at which point it was canceled without replacement. Japan’s economic crisis did a number on the luxury aspirations of the small automaker, and Mazda stepped back from its branch-out branding quickly. Eunos was closed in 1996, and Enfini followed suit in 1997. Abroad, customers noticed some slightly more fancy Mazdas arrived for a few years (like the Millennia) and were then eliminated or cost-cut.

Today’s Lantis Type R recently made its way from Japan to Washington D.C., and is for sale with just 42,000 miles. I want to talk to this guy about how to take pictures of cars. Lantis is yours for $5,950.

[Images: seller]

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22 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1995 Mazda Lantis V6 Type R, Don’t Call it 323...”

  • avatar

    Very nice… and fairly priced. It’s probably being reined in by its new owner already.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    So, wait a minute. Is it a Lantis or a Familia? Or an Astina? Sold by Mazda, or Enfini or Eunos? With how many engines?
    If I was a Japanese car buyer, I’d be very confused.

  • avatar

    I like it – I’d just be paranoid about someone running into it. Also, parts availability? Lol. Changing the plugs in the right (rear) head probably requires pulling the upper intake, so right off the bat you’d be looking for a gasket. You’d want to insure it at agreed value with someone like Hagerty or Grundy, then it would just be an occasional driver.

    • 0 avatar

      Does Rock Auto have a Japanese subsidiary?

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve often wonder how people source parts for such odd ball things. I had enough problems getting parts for my wife’s ’08 Volvo C30, which sold in very low numbers here in the US. Thankfully consumables like brakes were common with similar era Mazda and Ford products. Trim pieces however were impossible to locate. For example a cracked headlight lens turned into a quest for the holy grail. Despite looking very similar to the S40 coupe the C30 hatchback used slightly different parts.

        • 0 avatar
          Tele Vision


          I was looking quite seriously at a JDM Mk IV Supra about ten years ago. CDN$4700, I believe. It needed work but it idled and drove. The different turbocharger size worried me a bit so I did some research and discovered that the best way to buy replacement parts for that particular car was to buy another example of said car – that was also full of old parts.

          I backed out.

          • 0 avatar

            You can buy a couple backup parts cars and find the same parts have worn out/broken on all of them. Even high volume 25 year old cars have that problem: junkyards remove the few good parts that fail regularly and charge a premium for them.

    • 0 avatar

      It looks like we got the KF 2.0 V6 in the 2nd Gen MX-6. I’d imagine there is a lot of mechanical crossovers.

      I think where you’ll run into problems is finding parts for ancillary systems – blower motors, ECU-type parts, etc.

  • avatar

    LOVE it. I wish we had a better selection of quirky cars these days.

  • avatar

    It would run you 58-100% of the car’s ask price just to ship it from Japan in the first place… so what’s wrong with this one?

    “The cost to ship a car from Japan to the United States can vary significantly depending on vehicle size, the distance between origin and destination, and the shipping method that is used. On average, you can expect to pay between $3,500 and $6,000 to import a car from Japan to the U.S”

    • 0 avatar

      Given the paint at the low mileage, I think it’s been parked outside a lot and maybe not maintained that well. So it might drive poorly.

      Perhaps the owner brought it over and spent all that money, only to find he didn’t like driving it. Then he tried to find parts for a one-off JDM platform from two decades ago.

  • avatar

    Nice. I wouldn’t think twice about paying $6k for a LHD version of this.

  • avatar

    I drove some RHD Hino trucks here in the US and it was less problematic than I expected.

  • avatar

    Definitely want. Now, if my mechanical abilities only extended beyond bicycles . . . . .

  • avatar

    I like this, then again I think it would be humorous in its novelty to have an RHD vehicle. I can help but notice the strange placement of the cupholder though. I feel like that would be a recipe for disaster as my non-dominant hand would get confused having to take over shifting duty instead of just resting on the doorsill.

  • avatar

    When the article said “tiny” V6, I assumed it would be the 1.8L V6 in the MX-3. Remember those?

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      I had one of those (MX-3 Precidia with v6) in the summer of ’96. It was a company leased vehicle that got ‘passed around’ for a while.

      It was a fun little beast to toss around.

      Haven’t seen one for a long time.

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        I used to see a turquoise MX-3 with the 1.8 V6 in my neighborhood up until a decade ago. It’s been years since I’ve seen one. The era of comparable funky small sport coupes like the Geo Storm/Isuzu Impulse, Toyota Paseo and Nissan NX 1600/2000.

  • avatar

    I was in school in northern Europe in the very early 90’s and there were quite a few of the prior generation 323F around. I thought they were cool because 5-doors + popup headlights will always get a thumbs up from me. I also loved Volvo 480 (b/c pop up lights!) and even the stodgy Volvo 345 (b/c 5-doors). Lots of cars not available in the US, so I just considered them cool by default.

  • avatar

    Please do a rare rides on the Xedos 6, it looks fantastic. Had no idea this car ever existed.

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