14k-Mile 1990 Mazda 323 Hatchback

Did you miss out on a chance to own a sixth generation Mazda 323 when new? This could be the closest you'll get again. The seller is reporting the odometer as reading just 14,264 miles.

These were known as the Familia in most other markets and were produced from 1989-1994. They were basic front-wheel drive cars, although four-wheel drive was available. Mazda's Familia/323 helped establish the brand as makers of frugal, reliable little economy cars in the eyes of many consumers. This car became the Protege in North America, but the hatchback retained the 323 name.

Styling is pleasing. This was when Japanese designers were still being influenced by the conservative forms from Europe, so even their entry-level cars wore what could be described as "staid" sheet-metal, at least in comparison to today's cars. But a funny thing happened when those very Japanese designers (and, eventually, German and Italian designers, too) threw away hard corners and simple lines in favor of swooshy potpourri shapes more befitting of the Target parking lot than the Autobahn: consumers yearned for the hard angles. Americans (and Europeans to an extent), like our cars to look like cars, not sculptures (as Chris Bangle would have it). As such, there is a growing movement of people nostalgic for the look of these cars, insignificant as they might have seen at one time.

The seller of this remarkable survivor is a dealer and the car is not without some drama, unfortunately. The bad news first: it does have an accident to the left rear fender reported, but it looks like it was repaired. However the title was branded as salvage. The dealer explains they bought it from the insurance company, so it was involved in an accident, the owner decided not to fix it, and then the insurance company auctioned the vehicle at wholesale to dealers. It happens everyday.

The good news is that the car does genuinely seem to be a 1-owner, 14k-mile car.

The seller has provided a bunch of high-resolution photos and also taken the time to detail the car, and it goes a long way in presentation. Cosmetically, car looks great in steel grey with unpainted bumpers, cross-spoke wheels and grey cloth interior.

Mechanically, the seller states they have test driven the vehicle and it is road-worthy, needing nothing. They also offer to help the next owner apply for a rebuilt title.

Getting salvage cars can be a way to acquire cars with for cheap. Other times I imagine it could be a nightmare, or just a waste of money when a better car could be had for not much more. This might be a case of the former.

Find it here on ebay in Redondo Beach, California with a $4,988 Buy-It-Now and the Make Offer option.


  1. It would be nice to know when the accident happened, and how severe it was. Realistically, it doesn't take much damage to total a 21-year-old base Mazda 323 hatch, so the accident might not have been too bad. Then again, it was hit in the rear quarter - not good for a hatchback.

    Depending on what state you live in, a salvage or rebuilt title can be problematic. Then there's the insurance coverage hassle - many insurers don't want to cover it.

    But assuming the accident wasn't bad, it was repaired well, and you can get the car registered and insured, why would you bother with this one?

    It's a very basic 1990 Mazda 323 hatchback, with an automatic and AC. And not much else. Manual everything. Even without the branded title and accident history, it's still an absolutely forgettable 21-year-old transportation appliance. The only plus here is the ultra-low-mileage.

    For nearly $5000, it should be perfect. No salvage title, no crappy tires, etc. With that branded title, it's never going to be worth anything on resale anyway, low mileage or otherwise.

    For comparison, the original MSRP on a 1990 323 hatch started at $6599. Figure a little over $8000 with auto and AC.

    I don't get it.

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