Junkyard Find: 1989 Mazda 626 DX

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
After selling a rear-wheel-drive 626 here starting in the 1978 model year, Mazda introduced a brand-new front-wheel-drive version for 1983. That was the same year the Camry first appeared on our shores, and the cheaper 626 lured many car shoppers away from Toyota showrooms with its impressive list of standard features. The Camry got a major update for 1987, and a new generation of 626 appeared the following year. Here’s one of those cars, photographed in a Northern California self-service yard last winter.
Back in its homeland, this car was known as the Capella. Before getting 626 badges here, the North American Capella was sold as the Mazda RX-2 (with Wankel power) and the 616 (with piston power). After 2002, the 626 name got axed and the Mazda6 took over.
This car is the El Cheapo-spec DX trim level, so it has hand-cranked windows and unpowered seats. The price tag started at $10,499, which comes to about $25,065 in 2022 dollars.
The original purchaser decided that air conditioning was worth an additional $795 (about $1,900 today). Note the ECO button below the A/C switch.
Manual transmissions were becoming increasingly shunned by American drivers of midsize sedans by the late 1980s, but this car has the base five-speed manual. The automatic transmission option cost nearly as much as the refrigerated air: 720 bucks.
The engine is a 2.2-liter F-series four-cylinder, rated at 110 horsepower. A 145-horse turbocharged version of the 626 was available.
The coupe version of the 626 was known as the MX-6 here, while the sporty hatchback became the Ford Probe.
This one made it past the magical 200,000-mile mark, which is great for a 1980s machine not made by Mercedes-Benz, Honda, or Toyota.
The paint has been nuked hard by the California sun, but the car appears to have been well-cared-for during its life.
The block-off plates where switches might have lived tell us of the option roads not taken by the original buyer.
It may have been a good (enough) runner at the end, but few buyers want a 32-year-old small sedan with the wrong number of pedals and ugly paint these days. Next stop: The Crusher.
Standard features! Big warranty! Cheaper than Accord!
In Japan, this generation of Capella got a drama-packed ad set in Europe. The Citroën DS at the end is a nice touch.For links to more than 2,200 additional Junkyard Finds, visit the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.[Images by the author]
Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • RHD RHD on Jul 22, 2022

    Why are the comments repeating? Some bugs still remain to work out.

    The re-do has resulted in a larger font size and wider line spacings. The annoying video ads are still a problem.

  • Cesar Cesar on Oct 26, 2023

    compadre me interesan piezas del mazda tengo uno igual en Mexico que necesito reparar cuanto lo vendes completo mandame respuesta de favor

  • Ravenuer Looking forward to it!
  • Daniel J I love my mazda 6. It's getting harder and harder to drive it around where I live as municipalities fail to repair roads. SUVs are just easier to drive with all of the potholes.
  • 1995 SC On the plus side, I found a sedan I want to buy
  • Teddyc73 As I asked earlier under another article, when did "segment" or "class" become "space"? Does using that term make one feel more sophisticated? If GM's products in other segments...I mean "space" is more profitable then sedans then why shouldn't they discontinue it.
  • Robert Absolutely!!! I hate SUV's , I like the better gas milage and better ride and better handling!! Can't take a SUV 55mph into a highway exit ramp! I can in my Malibu and there's more than enough room for 5 and trunk is plenty big enough for me!