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]
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