Hen’s Teeth: 1972 Mazda 1800 Wagon

Here’s one that’s rarer than the proverbial hen’s teeth! A couple of months ago, our pal Scotty Gilbertson shared a ’72 Mazda 1800 sedan with us, one of likely extremely few survivors of that pioneering U.S.-market Mazda; here’s its even rarer station wagon counterpart. Mazda launched in the U.S. in Seattle, and like the sedan Scotty found, this wagon has stayed in that region. It can be found here on craigslist on Bainbridge Island, Washington, with an asking price of, appropriately enough, $1,800 (archived ad).

I like the seller’s frankness about this car: “It is rusty and dented, some rust holes, interior is rough, weatherstripping is bad but it is still here and rare.” Rare indeed: if Wikipedia is to believed (a dubious proposition, to be sure), 2,576 of these wagons were imported to the U.S. between 1970 and ’71, and none at all in ’72. It’s possible, of course, that this is a ’71 titled as a ’72, or Wikipedia’s figures are wrong, but either way, this is one of very few ever sold here. The seller suggests that they were only sold new in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, which I can neither confirm nor deny.

The interior is indeed rough, from front to rear to way back, but at least this car sports a four-speed stick, the better to wring out the 1.8-liter four that contemporary reviewers found to be a somewhat disappointing performer. No, there’s no rotary here, but, as reader Dave helpfully pointed out in the comments of Scotty’s article, the 1800 shared many mechanical components with the Mazda-built Ford Courier pickup, so many parts aren’t as hard to find as you might think. The seller of this car has performed a good list of maintenance items, including rebuilds of the carburetor, brakes, steering, and transmission, and the car does run and drive.

Performance isn’t the star attraction to this car (although it handled well), but the Giugiaro-penned lines just might be! The seller likens it to a BMW Bavaria, so maybe that’s why I like it so much, but it really has nice proportions, great visibility, and much cleaner detailing than most other contemporary Japanese cars, instead looking very European. Factor in wagon practicality plus extreme rarity, and I see a strong case for giving this car a cosmetic renewal—how about you?

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Comments

  1. AlanB

    I had one of these back in the day, it was a workhorse.

    • DrinkinGasoline

      As compared to what ??

    • Duncan

      I bet this is the car that they cut to make the Harald and Maud XKE hearse??

  2. Gay Car Nut

    Sweet looking car. I’ve seen only one Mazda 1800 sedan, but *never* an 1800 wagon. If the right owner buys it, I hopes he can restore it, or tastefully restomods it. It’s probably the best looking car Mazda has produced.

  3. XJSLord

    I would live to spring on this, but it’s too far away to be worth it…

  4. blackdog

    ugly ass junk!!!

  5. Gay Car Nut

    Well, you can’t please *everyone.* Some may hate the styling, but I actually find it quite handsome.

  6. angliagt

    These seem to almost always turn up in the Seattle area.
    Not too surprising,as that’s where Mazda’s US headquarters
    were at that time (Kent).

  7. Gay Car Nut

    I’ve always loved Mazda cars and trucks of the 70s and 80s, probably more so than most Toyota cars and trucks.

  8. ROTAG999

    Has been for sale before on CL

  9. CoolHluke

    Speaking of cool vintage Japanese cars theirs a 1964 Datsun 411 on pdx Craig’s seller mentions it has very low vin 000128 it has a really cool old school Datsun front badge…
    https://portland.craigslist.org/clk/cto/d/1964-datsun-410-rare-lowest/6374702292.html

    1
    • Gay Car Nut

      Unfortunately the ad has been taken down, which is typical of craigslist.

  10. Brian Jackson

    LOVE IT!

    For good or bad, it reminds me of my 75 Rx4 sedan. But even more rare and even less valuable.

    You really need to love these cars to keep them alive. The resale value will never match the investment to restore. It would be great if someone would either do a long term rolling restoration on this one or invest the money to restore it knowing he’d never get his money back.

    I’m glad it found it’s way onto Barn Finds. Hopefully the right person will buy it.

    • carbuzzard Member

      I hope that the return-on-investment idea isn’t all that people think of with cars like this. If so, use it to haul cow manure to your garden. I really hope that someone sees it as a labor of love and respects it for the artifact that it is. Of course, it’s not my time or money…but surely there’s someone out there…

  11. Bob in Bexley Member

    Here in Columbus, Ohio a local junkyard had one sitting complete last year, not beat or dented just nice example but with some rust. Close examination showed some sculpted panels that probably weren’t cheap to form.

  12. Luki

    Gorgeous Front end ripped off from Lancia.
    Remainder incoherent Japanese mish mash.

    • Andy

      Yeah, except for the part where it was designed by the same guy who did the Lotus Esprit and the original VW Golf, among countless others.

      • Luki

        Giorgetto Giugiaro Designed the original Luce. Not the wagon. Bertone was not happy that Mazda utilized their front end design and did the the rear portion inhouse.

  13. Gay Car Nut

    I’ve heard of the original Mazda Luce. This would be the American market version of the Luce.

  14. Maestro1

    Absolutely do the cosmetics as Nathan suggests and the rubber, and drive it.
    It’s unusual and attractive. If you can map it’s history, some appreciation may happen.

  15. Shelli Anne

    This is a 1972,only year to have the dummy panels on either side the the hood scoop. I had two of the 1800 sedans,a ’70 & a ’71. Both were very durable albeit slow and never let me down for a great many years.They were far more common in Canada and were preceded by the Mazda 1500 (smaller motor and no hood scoop) and the Mazda Luce Rotary (a 13B,I think), all had the same styling. Legend has it a boat load of Mazda 1800’s headed for Vancouver,B.C. were mistakenly off-loaded in Seattle and Mazda decided it was easier and cheaper just to sell them here in Washington,Oregon,and a few in Idaho. My older brother had a ’71 1800 wagon and my younger brother had a ’70 1800 sedan, my family was very fond of these cars !

  16. David Miraglia

    saw a few of these back here in NYC in the 1970, early 1980’s. Always liked the design

  17. merlincedric

    my buddy has a mint 1969 version of this in BC… way nicer condition than this.

  18. Jubjub

    Bummer somebody kept forgetting to close the doors when they backed up!

    Really a good looking car, Merlincedric’s photo better shows this.

    Aside from the Lancia-esque front end these bear fair resemblance to a Simca 1500. Maybe a little more rackish though.

  19. Stetson Rydberg

    I bought this car a cleaned it up a bit, sold it to another guy who had the time and resources to restore it fully. I’m glad I found another enthusiast, I have my hands full with my other Mazdas (rotary cars).

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