This story is not our typical barn find or even survivor car story. But it is about a car, and how one person’s love for it has inspired others. And at least for me, it’s always amazing – and even rewarding – to realize just how emotionally important cars can be to us.
This particular Mazda 626 is a relatively plain Jane four door sedan. I am pretty sure it is the entry level DX trim line, as it has manual roll up windows (but a more knowledgeable reader may be able to correct me on this). In 1991 Mazda 626’s came equipped with a 2.2 liter 110 bhp four cylinder engine, and mated to the five speed transmission that this car features. These cars were able to get 26 mpg on the highway and could seat five people, but those three in the back would need to be children or tiny adults to fit, much less be comfortable.
The Mazda 626 was a pretty typical Japanese front wheel drive mainstream sedan in 1991. So aside from the fact that this car is now 25 years old, what makes it special? Well, this particular example is owned by Dallas Cowboys running back Alfred Morris. He originally purchased this Mazda from his pastor for $2 when he was a junior at Florida Atlantic University, and gave it the nickname “Bentley.”
Despite becoming a successful, well-paid NFL player, Morris continued to drive his old car as a reminder to stay humble. In 2013, while he was playing with the Washington Redskins, local Mazda dealers learned about Morris’ love for his car, and decided to restore it for him.
They went all out to bring it back to as-new condition, and also to add a few safety and convenience features to enhance Morris’ enjoyment of his trusty old car. They even went to Mazda in Japan to have some impossible to find pieces made from original molds. And in addition to the restoration work, the DC Mazda dealers went all out making a new interior for the car, including a touch screen stereo and navigation system with high end speakers and a back-up camera, remote power door locks, alarm system, and a complete sound insulation layer.
To match the car’s nickname, the Mazda dealers installed new seat upholstery and door panels with Bentley-style diamond quilting stitched into the fabric, a new headliner and plush carpet, all created to match the original gray interior color.
Alfred Morris still drives his Mazda 626 every day, parking it in the Cowboys stadium players’ lot amid a sea of spectacular and expensive vehicles, and says he plans to drive the car forever. And I hope he does!