Micro Traction: 1989 Mazda 323 GTX

This little Mazda is one of only 1,194 special cars built by Mazda to qualify for Group A rally car racing.

The 323 was your typical Japanese entry-level compact hatchback with front-wheel drive and four cylinder engines. Styling was decent, but overall the car was nothing spectacular.

That changed with the GTX. Mazda swapped the engine for a turbocharged and intercooled 16-valve unit producing 132 horsepower. Rigidy was strengthened and the track widened. Finally, all-wheel drive was added for superior road traction.

Some styling changes were added too, including a rear spoiler and alloy wheels.

Since so few were made and they are so desirable, finding any example, let alone a mostly untouched example, is almost impossible.

Fortunately, the seller of this vehicle says it's a 139k-mile survivor that has spent most of its life in New Mexico and has little rust as a result of the arid climate there. It also looks mostly stock, with no tacky tinted windows or aftermarket paint job. The seller says this has the analogue gauge package, a sunroof and cd player. They say the head was recently rebuilt and the transmission shifts smoothly, but the car is consuming some oil and may have a fuel pressure issue. The seller says a new job has left them with little time to tend to the car.

This is probably the most GTX you'll find out there, next to a pristine low mileage example which would command probably double or more. With some mechanical and cosmetic attention, it could continue to be a fun driver.

Find it here on craigslist in Minneapolis, Minnesota for $3,250.

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