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177 on the Flats: 1988 Mazda 323 GTX


The Mazda 323 GTX is a factory hot hatch that is part of an elite crowd of automobiles built to satisfy Group A rally racing requirements. In order to compete, FIA rules mandated that manufacturers build 5,000 copies of street-going versions of the proposed racing cars; hence, the turbocharged, all-wheel drive GTX was born. After a short-lived rally career, this GTX here on eBay moved into another realm of competition: as a Land Speed Record car. 


While the GTX was built solely for competition, the more vanilla 323 lived its life as Mazda’s bread-and-butter entry level hatch. The GTX was akin to a Jekyll and Hyde transformation, featuring a turbocharged twin-cam 1.6L motor pushing out 132 b.h.p. with endless potential for cranking up the boost for even more power. Obviously, this example pushes the envelop even further, at one time cranking out 450 b.h.p. for impressive speed on the flats.


Now, it’s been dialed back to about 300 b.h.p. for more livable daily performance. Of course, that’s still more than you would reasonably need for street driving, but it’s nice to know you have it. The chassis actually has only 9,000 original miles, reflecting its use solely as a rally and top-speed vehicle. The list of engine modifications is quite extensive, and the car is fully street legal with a host of safety features as well. A second, disassembled engine is included.


The seller says this GTX offers Subaru WRX STI performance at a fraction of the price. I’m inclined to agree, and you also get a far more interesting vehicle with a colorful competition history. Obviously, it’s not practical for daily driving but you could likely live with it for a few days each week if your commute is short, but it’s best reserved for autocrossing and track days. With a Buy-It-Now of $9,500, you likely couldn’t replicate this car yourself given the money and time already invested. Would you drive this or a modern, turbocharged pocket rocket?


  1. DrinkinGasoline

    Now You’re going way beyond My scope. My Dad went to West Tech High School (in Cleveland) with Art Arfons and they were in auto shop class together. My Dad went on to the family electrical business and Art….well, that’s history. They did keep in touch through the years, which was cool.
    Anything beyond that….I have to take a pass.

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  2. grant

    When my wife and I divorced, I left the house with the clothes on my back, my boat and this cars plebian front wheel drive twin. I paid $125 for it from a towyard. It would barely do 70 mph. This one may be quicker but I’ll still pass. Not a lot of good connotations for me with this one.

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  3. Steven C

    This car is really cool! Would be really fun to drag race.

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  4. Kirt M

    I drove a ’89 GTX back in the early 90’s and it was a BLAST! A turbocharged AWD rocket that clawed at the road for traction. I’m more of a European car fan, but I’d consider picking one of these up for the right price – just not this price. I could get two or three fun cars for this kind of cash.

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  5. jaygryph

    Have a friend that has owned a couple of them and has used them for rallies and road course racing stuff. She loves that car. I sent her the link to this one, maybe it’ll be her new race car. That’d be great, then I might get to drive it!

    These things are nasty little critters on the road, very unassuming body, but that that all wheel drive and turbo engine makes them a scary quick and nimble road car.

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