1993 Mazda MX-3
The early 1990s were rife with interesting small, sporty coupes and hatchbacks. Most were based on existing economy car platforms to keep the costs down and few are still in production to this day. Why? Blame it on the SUV. It used to be that people, while they might not have necessarily felt safe in a small car, at least didn’t feel like they were in mortal danger at any given time.
But back to the early 90s – when you consider the prevailing styling theme of that era, combine it with the… well, interesting color palate available, the roads of the United States were a veritable snack bowl of Skittles. Greens, teals, magentas, coppers and the like were slathered on small, amorphous blobs originating from manufacturers around the world. Many of these cars honestly were not very good. Most were forgettable. Except one…
The Mazda MX-3, while a blob like so many others of its time, was interesting not only because it was a hatchback and it was available in the unfortunate hue shown above, but for its optional engine.
A 1.6 liter four-cylinder was standard – it put out about 106 horsepower – not much, but in line with the expectation of consumers. The optional engine, however, was far more interesting – a 1.8 liter V6 developing… no, that’s not a typo – 1.8 liter V6.
Purported to be the smallest V6 ever installed in a production car, the MX-3’s optional engine developed 130 horses and was enough to propel the little hatchback to 60 mph in around 8.4 seconds. No scorcher by any stretch of the imagination, but the main point here was not blazing speed, but smooth, linear power delivery.
The V6 also gave this little Mazda something to brag about when compared to cars in its class. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to make it a big success here in the US. Production of the MX-3 ended in 1998 after 6 years – the V6 version only lasted until 1994.
In the end, the MX-3 is a window into a different era of automotive design. Bug-eyed, soap-shaped and garishly-colored, this Mazda really was the beginning of the end for the small sporty coupe and hatchback segment. Modern equivalents are more likely to be significantly larger, and have 4 doors. Performance has increased significantly, along with safety and sometimes efficiency, but there’s something to be said about a little, weird-looking hatchback.
So, if you’re interesting in owning a small piece of automotive and engineering history for a very small amount of cash, check out this listing. This particular example shows only 65,000 miles on the clock and is a fully loaded ride: leather seating, cruise control, power everything, sunroof – the works. Best of all, the most noticeable problem with the car is the paint – and that’s the thing that this blogger would be changing first – even if it was pristine.