Sad Puppy: 1985 Mazda GLC Deluxe Sedan

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This car is newer than usual for these pages, but its sad puppy face drew me in and I was hooked. It’s a 1985 Mazda GLC Deluxe Sedan and it’s located in St. Charles, Missouri. You can find this puppy listed on eBay with a current bid price lower than the price of most real puppies at just over $200! But, the reserve isn’t met. I can’t imagine that this GLC will have a high asking price, $2,000 maybe?

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On paper this car doesn’t have much going for it, at least for the average Barn Finds reader. It’s a Japanese car, it has four-doors (!), it has an automatic transmission (!!), and it’s from the mid-1980s!!! What a dream car! Actually, other than the automatic, this is the kind of car that appeals to me, and with 7.5 billion people currently on the planet, and hopefully a decent percentage of those folks are Barn Finds readers, there have to be others out there who share my exuberance with these sad puppies and underdogs. The Deluxe model sold for almost $6,900 in 1985 and Mazda also had a Luxury model for almost a grand more than that!

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1985 was towards the end of the run for the GLC (“Great Little Car”) in North America after which they evolved into the 323. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your viewpoint and possibly your geographic location, this fourth-generation GLC sported front-wheel-drive for the first time. I almost always prefer rear-wheel-drive or 4WD/AWD, but I would never kick a front-wheel-drive vehicle out of the garage based solely on the location of its drive wheels. This car has a touch over 92,000 miles on it and it’s all original. Being a four-door sedan it has an actual trunk, which is as nice as the rest of the car appears to be. Other than some faded paint, she looks good, no? Well, other than a couple of rusty dog-legs in front of the rear wheels, which are totally hidden from view once you close the doors. I really liked the previous generation GLC with its surprised puppy face.

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The carpet could “use replaced”, as they say, but other than that, and a couple of cracks on the top of the dash, it looks perfectly fine inside. And, then there’s that automatic transmission sitting there. Being a mid-80s four-door sedan this car will most likely never undergo a 5-speed transmission swap, but it’s possible to do that. Of course, if a person were going that route then they may also want to install a Mazda GTX turbo engine and upgrade the suspension and brakes. Hmm.. The seller says that each “seat has sun fading on the tops, and each front seat has some splitting where the seams are- it is unraveling on the tops.”

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Here’s the partially-peppy power plant: Mazda’s E5 which is a 1.5L inline-four with over ten times the horsepower of, say, a 1956 Lambretta 150 D scooter! That sounds like a lot until you realize that a 1956 Lambretta 150 D scooter had 6 hp. This Mazda GLC has about 68 hp, which would feel like enough power if it also had a 4 or 5-speed transmission. The automatic sucks most of the fun out of this engine. The seller even mentions that, “it’s a three speed automatic, so it’s pretty slow on the highway.” Of course, once you get up to highway speed it’s as fast as a Bugatti Veyron is, but the 15 seconds that it requires to get up to that speed will be noticeable compared to most other cars this side of a Subaru 360. This GLC is 31 years old now which ranges from either fairly old or by-God-ancient for most things other than cars. I’ve never understood that. This Mazda GLC sure doesn’t seem like a very desirable car but, for some reason I really like it. What are your thoughts on this sad puppy?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Paul

    Scotty, I am with you. Even before I began to read about this car, I opened it up, then to my surprise, we had a kindred heart. This will be, or is already, a head snapper for some one. If I had the space, I would rescue these cars and place them in a museum, The UNDERDOG Museum, place antique tags on each one and drive them all in rotation in hopes of snapping some ones head… Ya Jist Gotta LUV It.

    Like 4
    • Palandi

      one ticket for the Underdog Museum, please

      Like 4
  2. HoA Howard AMember

    I had a friend that bought a “GLC” new, ( ’82, I think) only a 2 door hatchback. Before this car, people generally associated Mazda with those annoying rotary’s,( calm down, the rotary was a good motor, just took a while) and I believe, it was this car that turned that image around. My buddies car was ok, about as exciting as a turtle race, but it was a good car. I’ll be pushing daisies before this car becomes collectible, but for now, like the Datsun B210, just a good, economical car to run into the ground. Currently, @ $255 bucks, it is a great deal. I remember the ads, ” Mazda Great Little Car” and the announcer quickly sez, “Great LOTTA Car”. Meh.

    Like 0
  3. Rando

    I really liked the 323 that came after these. And this one really isn’t all that bad. I drive about 9 miles to work, a couple miles to and from lunch and back home. All on 55 mph or less roads. This would be a GLC to have if it were close by. Not too exciting, but just reasonable transportation. Should be farily easy to work on as well.

    Like 2
  4. Fred W.

    With just 92K miles and being regularly maintained and driven instead of stored, this could be the deal of the century for the “old car” person who just wants something to beat around town in with no concerns. I’ll bet you could get another 50K out of it easy. Just don’t plan on getting anywhere fast.

    Like 1
  5. Fred W.

    With just 92K miles and being regularly maintained and driven instead of stored, this could be the deal of the century (assuming reserve is under $1000) for the “old car” person who just wants something to beat around town in with no concerns. I’ll bet you could get another 50K out of it easy. Just don’t plan on getting anywhere fast.

    Like 0
  6. Dairymen

    If you can pick it up for under a grand it would be fun just to show up at your local car shows and see people’s reactions.

    Like 0
    • HoA Howard AMember

      Hi Dairyman, yeah, I can hear it now over the PA system, ” eeeeyyoww( squealing mike) we’re sorry to interrupt the Elvis impersonator, but will the owner of a blue 4 door Mazda please park it with the other spectator cars. We need that space for a resto-mod”. :)

      Like 0
  7. No

    Still abusing italics, Scott? Quotation marks are for quotations. Italics are not.

    Like 0
    • Stephen

      A petty comment that lends nothing to the conversation.

      Like 0
    • ScottyAuthor

      Mr./Ms. No, I do that so folks can tell when something in quotation marks is from the seller instead of from me or from some other source. It makes total, 100% sense to me and I’m guessing that I’m not the only person on the globe that it makes sense to? I apologize that it irks you so much, but if that’s the worst thing that happens in your world, most of us would trade places with you any day of the week. Have a good day.

      Like 0
      • grant

        Wow and I was a grammar Nazi. Pretty sure we all got it Scotty.

        Like 0
  8. Blueprint

    Back in 1990, I bought a 5-dr GLC Deluxe automatic for 200$ to use as a winter beater (keeping my ’86 Celica warm and dry). It had rusty doglegs and hatch, but with careful bondo, pop rivets and proper paint, I had it looking like a clean 5 dr Sport, a combo Mazda never sold. The problem with GLC’s is … no heat. I froze in that thing, but did not mind parking in snowbanks on Montreal streets. Not bad when new, but boy did they age poorly!

    Like 1
  9. Eric F.

    My wife and I had an ’84 GLC (4 door with 5 speed) when we were first married. Perhaps we didn’t have the most refined taste in transportation, but we genuinely loved that car. It ran great, was smooth on the freeway, got great gas mileage and was dependable right up to the day it broke in half in a parking lot because the frame had rusted out. Great car!

    Like 1
  10. John

    These were a popular car in many markets.

    In Japan they were known as the Familia.
    Export markets outside of US (mostly RHD) were called 323.
    Also badged as Ford Laser in Australia, New Zealand etc.

    First mainstream front wheel drive car from Mazda

    When they came out, many WW2 generation people wouldn’t buy a Japanese car because of how the Japs fought and treated prisoners in the Pacific.
    The same people were happy to buy the Ford Laser, thinking it came from the UK !

    Like 1
  11. Greg

    scrolling through the images, I see a lot of similarities, interior and under-hood, to my 2 ’89 Festivas, which were Mazda / KIA / Ford collaborations…

    Like 0
  12. Vincent Camacho

    My son just bought a 83 GLC four door manual transmission. It runs great. The inside is in great condition since the people who had had not driven it for many years.

    Like 0
  13. Buddy

    I owned a 1985 glc deluxe made by Mazda for awhile. I really loved the 5 speed w/overdrive. It was great for my job was 60 miles round trip from where I lived. Interstate driving was a blast until I got stopped by the patrol state trooper. Anyway, it was a great car for the time!

    Like 0
  14. Eddie

    Own a 1984 Mazda GLC deluxe 4 door sedan with a 5speed transmission. Didn’t have great acceleration but it was a good running dependable car. I use to drive it 40 miles a day round trip to work and it never let me down. I remember Valentines Day 1990 driving it home from work during a snowstorm. I live in the Chicagoland area and we got hit that day with about 17 inches of snow. I drove home mostly on the expressway and I kept following the semi trucks and snow plows on the highway. I saw many vehicles on the side of the highway stranded in the snow. But that little GLC kept going and got me home. I almost got stuck in a snow bank when I exit off the highway near home. But I went back and forth and got out. I parked in front of my apartment and went inside. Thank goodness it was a Friday and I was off on the weekends. The next day my GLC was buried in snow from the plow trucks clearing the streets. Me and all my neighbors were all outside unburying our vehicles buried in snow. Great Little Car = GLC!

    Like 0

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