So what does $500 buy you nowadays? Well for $500 you can buy a block of shares on the Australian Stock Exchange (but you’ll also have to pay brokerage on top of that), a pretty decent acoustic guitar that isn’t made out of a packing crate or one weeks premium petrol for monster ported Rotary.
Alternatively for the team here, $500 could get you a trip back in the Automotive time machine to an era where luxury meant be able to change settings on your in car analog graphic equalizer while on your way to a board meeting with massive shoulder pads and a tie as wide as the road – you guessed it, sitting pretty in your upscale 1988 Mazda 929…
WHY THE MAZDA 929?
A long time ago (when the Rx7 I was in was giving me a few financial headaches) I had a conversation with my father in law (Hereby known as Baz) about finding something temporary to ride around in while I patched up the Mazda to sell later. He suggested taking a look at the Mazda 929 parked at his bosses place which could be mine for a mere $500. It belonged to the bosses father and now spent most of its days absorbing tree sap from the trees it was parked under months ago.
Before we even started though, Baz passed on his timely reminder: ‘You don’t get much nowadays for $500’ and those words echoed in my skull for a bit as drove out to a farmstead in the middle of nowhere to see if the power barge from 88 would be a worthwhile investment. In the back of Baz’s ute we took a spare battery to get it started as the previous owner had removed it for some reason (possible battery theft in the middle of nowhere?)
Desperately in need of a wash and a detail (and some touch up paint), it was still in a bit better shape than I first expected:
Even the engine in the Mazda 929 looked okay for something that’s been quite busy since George Michael was doing quite well in the charts (so it’s been a while then..) with no obvious leaks, not too much grime and no smoke appearing out of parts.
|Thanks to Jayson the brother in law for the battery…|
The coolant overflow tank needed a change and the bonnet strut were deader than Boy George’s career (Baz kept the bonnet open with a large branch) but aside from the smattering of dust, the 929 block was fairly clean. Given it’s age and mileage I was expecting a whole lot more rust and cobwebs than what I found.
Inside the interior was in great shape with most electrics working quite well (the window switches were another story) so it had obviously been well looked after, especially when I saw how far it’s rolled on:
|We’re not sure if that’s 371,723 or 1,371,723…|
The auto selector was a touch loose and Baz swore the sunroof wasn’t sitting in properly which could be interesting when it rains, but my favorite part of it was the luxury entertainment center clad in faux wood paneling: look at that sexy graphic equalizer!
Sadly while the radio tuned in, no sound escaped the speakers. The aerial also seemed dead in the water so the list of things to look at if bought started to increase to the second page…
MAZDA 929 – THE DRIVE
After checking for smoke and leaks (none of both thankfully) on this big roller we rolled off to the back roads to really give it a going over and that’s where Baz started noticing a vibration during deceleration that he thought might be from one of the worn tires. He also wasn’t impressed by the speed of Economy mode but that’s the trade off you get for decreased fuel consumption (happily when I tested it the first thing I did was put it back in power mode which was much more fun). While it’s not a drag racer by any state of the imagination we were both pleased by its get up and even more so from the incredibly light steering for something this size – I was expecting to have to wrestle it to go anywhere but with power everything this is quite easy to drive.
I also picked up a noise at high revs hailing from the back somewhere but we’re guessing that something non essential that just come lose somewhere.
Cruise is one button and worked well. The windows required a mere button flick to bring down and two hands and a well braced leg to get back up but only when the switches and the moon are in alignment – I knew from experience that Mazda doesn’t make spare switches cost effective at all…
Overall though in the short time we drove it I was quite impressed by the fact that something so run in and cheap could actually be a lot more decent to drive than a lot of things I’ve seen for ten times the price. Especially with it’s (half working) old school luxury 80s accessories. Petrol consumption is a big concern, it’s a thirsty block.
I was also slightly dismayed at the lack of parts available online for these things after the test drive, I’d barely started on my list of possible things to fix if I decided to go through with the sale when I hit a brick wall. Attempting to get a roadworthy on this rig without some mates in the wrecking industry would be close to a nightmare.
MAZDA 929 – THE GOOD
– Old school Mazda cruiser in decent nick that should scrub up well after a clean. Oh and some paint.
– Decent V6
– Boot big enough to live in
– Fake wood is hilarious
– Graphic equalizer
– Simple to drive
Most Some electrics work
MAZDA 929 – THE BAD
– High K’s (close to 400K)
– Missing paint (lots)
– Dead bonnet struts
– Needs a new battery
– Window switches possessed by the devil
– Noise at high revs, vibration under braking
– Couple of small cracks in the windscreen could mean a new one needed
MAZDA 929 – SO WOULD IT BE WORTH IT?
Provided you could source some new switches, aerial, speaker and other parts for
fairly cheap free, absolutely. If it’s going to cost as much as you bought it for (or more) to actually drive it legally then no (in this one’s case, definitely not worth the work unless you want to relive the glory days of the 80’s or you got it for free). But hey, at least we’ve proved to Baz that sometimes you can find some amusing things for half a grand…