Junkyard Find: 1985 Mazda 626 Luxury Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1985 mazda 626 luxury sedan

The original Mazda 626, sold here for the 1978 through 1982 model years, was a rear-wheel-drive machine that looked quite European in a Peugeot 504-ish way. Its front-wheel-drive successor was straight-up aimed at gaijin car shoppers who might consider a Camry, Accord, or Stanza, and it came packed with affordable luxury features and cool gadgetry. Here’s an ’85 LX sedan with one of the raddest 1980s audio systems imaginable, found in a Northern California self-service yard earlier this month.

It’s got this Dolby-equipped Fujitsu Ten-built component system with separate radio, auto-reverse cassette deck, and nine-band equalizer. By 1985 standards, this audio rig is intergalactic, and it’s a minor miracle that no thieves ever chainsawed up the dash to rip it off during the 1980s ( when factory audio hardware was worth real money). The AM/FM/cassette components came as standard equipment on the LX, but the EQ cost an additional 140 bucks (that’s about $370 in 2021 dollars).

But there’s more! Check out this amazing Fujitsu Ten fader/balance joystick, which features a beautifully damped mechanism that just feels expensive. I’ve seen other joystick controls on car-audio setups from the 1980s and 1990s, but they’ve all been flimsy garbage that probably went scratchy before age five.

It was a great deal of work to extract this joystick unit from the console without busting anything (my personal Junkyard Code prohibits me from breaking stuff while extracting parts), but I had to own it for my collection. Look for it in a future junkyard-parts boombox.

The body and paint on this car look nicer than what you’ll see on most 10-year-old Mazdas, and the interior looks like it just got detailed. Someone took very meticulous care of this car during its 36 years.

Not even 90,000 miles on the clock. Did it blow a head gasket in 1996 and sit in a garage since that time?

This is the second-highest trim level for the 1985 626, located just below the Luxury Touring Sedan, and it listed at $10,245 with a 5-speed manual or $10,665 with automatic (that comes to about $26,990 and $28,100 in 2021 dollars). The 1985 Honda Accord LX sedan with automatic started at $10,645, the 1985 Toyota Camry LE sedan with automatic was $10,898, the 1985 Nissan Stanza GL sedan cost $10,049, and the 1985 Mitsubishi Galant Luxury sedan could be had for $11,989. The 626 seems like a steal, given all the no-extra-cost goodies that came with it.

The engine is a two-liter four rated at 84 horsepower, a bit less than the base plants in the Camry (92hp), Accord (86hp), Stanza (97hp), and the Galant (101hp). When did Mazda stop using that blue color on air cleaners?

Is it rare? Very much so. Is it valuable? Not at all.

James Garner pitched these cars.

Known as the Capella in its homeland, this car was the choice of French families seeking to hide rabbits from hunting dogs in the forests of Japan.


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  • Gayneu Gayneu on Dec 21, 2021

    Ah the 626. My dad had the first series, late 70s model. Bright red with black interior and 5-speed. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and it forever changed my opinion on US cars. US cars have gotten waaaaaaaay better but my garage is still full of German and Japanese drivers.

  • The Snu The Snu on Dec 21, 2021

    My buddy Andy had one in 1988 or so. Had the joystick. I vividly remember sitting in the car for the first time, seeing that thing, and pushing it all around in circles, waiting for the flanging effect. Nothing happened. I said "andy, the joystick isn't working." He said "Yes, because every A--Hole who sits in the passenger seat immediately starts pushing that thing around in circles for the flanging effect!!"

  • Jeff S Corey--We know but we still want to give our support to you and let TTAC know that your articles are excellent and better than what the typical articles are.
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  • Sckid213 I actually do agree that most Nissans are ultimately junk. (I also think many BMWs are also). I was talking challenging the 3 in terms of driving dynamics. Agree all were failures in sales.
  • THX1136 More accurately said, we are seeing exponential growth in the manufacturing capabilities in this market. Unless, of course, all those vehicles are sold with customers waiting until more a produced so they can buy. Indeed, there are certainly more EVs being purchased now than back in 2016. Is demand outstripping manufacturing? Maybe or maybe not. I sincerely don't know which is why I ask.
  • ToolGuy The page here (linked in the writeup) is ridiculously stupid https://www.tyreextinguishers.com/how-to-spot-an-suvLike, seriously stupid, e.g., A) Not sure that particular Volvo is killing the planet as quickly as some other vehicles we might choose. B) A Juke is "huge"??? C) The last picture shows a RAV4 Hybrid?