Four Wheel Steering: 1989 Mazda MX-6 GT


The MX-6 was essentially a coupe version of the 626 sedan. Mazda sold only two generations between 1987 and 1997. The first generation was based on the Mark 3 "GD" platform 626, and only lasted until 1992.

Mazda is one of those on again, off again brands that have not been able to steadily build momentum like Toyota and Honda have (although both are currently teetering on the edge of slipping indefinitely). Mazda has had some moments of widespread appreciation in the industry (their refinement of the rotary engine) and in pop culture (the goofy but catchy Zoom Zoom ads), but nothing that has permanently stuck in the minds of consumers enough to make them a huge sales success, and, more importantly, iconic.


That doesn't mean they haven't made some great products however. To the contrary, they have a lot of modern classics under the belts. One of their lesser known gems is this '89 MX-6. In the 80s, Mazda was still competing on a relatively even playing field with Toyota and Honda for the no.1 Japanese car spot. Their 626 was arguably way cooler and better equipped than the comparable Camry and Accords of the time. To stick out from the competition, this MX-6 has a 2.2-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine under the hood. The thought of  turbo power on an otherwise sedate front-wheel drive car makes it infinitely more appealing, and Mazda understood this.


The seller says a couple of times it's "very fast". They also mention it has a Zombie SS chip and boost controller, but I have no idea what that is or how good it is. What they don't say is whether it has the legendary four wheel steering, which was only offered in the U.S. on 1989 GT models exactly like this one, making it an extreme rarity. Essentially, turning the steering wheel turned all four wheels. The rear wheels were electronically controlled to pivot no greater than 5 degrees in the opposite direction of the front wheels under 35 miles per hour and in the same direction for any speed faster. This allowed for both agile parking and greater maneuverability changing lanes and taking corners. Honda experimented with this too, before all automakers  abruptly pulled it from the market and never offered it again except on a couple other rare and expensive high performance cars. Why this lost but significant technology is being repressed is still a mystery. It could easily have become a standard feature on all cars in the same way that disc brakes and airbags have become.


The body clearly has some flaws and the seller says there is some rust. They also say it needs a wheel bearing and engine mount. Gross over-sized aftermarket exhaust aside, it's good to see the original wheels still intact. This thing is begging for an impeccable restoration. Be the first to do it, then tell me all about it!

Available here on craigslist in Minneapolis, Minnesota for $2,000.
                                   

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