Well-Traveled: 1976 Mazda 808

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Who doesn’t love a car with a good story? Although the details are limited on this 1976 Mazda 808 here on eBay, the vestiges of previous owners gives some interesting clues as to where this foreign-market version of the RX-3 resided before ending up in Georgia. Known as the 808 in select markets, these cars were not powered by a rotary engine like U.S. market cars but an inline-four cylinder. 

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As you can see in this picture and the one above it, stickers provide at least some indication as to the life this 808 lead before ending up on eBay. It looks like a standard-issue Dept. of Defense sticker on the front bumper, and this windshield decor reveals it belonged to an employee of the airport in Guam at one time! This makes sense, as the 808 was an Asian export market model. How it got to Georgia is a bigger mystery, but it perhaps is logical to think that a service member was stationed there and worked at the airport.

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Overall, the 808 looks quite presentable. The body is said to be mostly rust-free and the interior looks great for its age. Seeing the original steering wheel and at least a period-correct radio tuner offers some reassurance that this car was never hot-rodded or tuned up, just used as a reliable daily driver in the many places it has lived. I hope that remains the case with the next owner.

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The rear window glass would look perfect with a set of period-correct louvers (and I suspect they were installed at one time given the attachments on both sides), and the body needs some dents pulled out to be a bit more presentable. The seller says there is no rust in the spare tire well or battery tray but the car has been sitting since 1986. He’s open to making a deal, so it may be worth a phone call to get down to brass tacks rather than hedging your bets on an eBay auction. How do you think this Mazda ended up in Georgia?

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    The 808 was available in the U.S., if I remember correctly. I bought a new RX-3 (same basic car, but with rotary engine) in 1973 and remember seeing piston-powered examples at the dealership. I wasn’t interested.

    And those weird attachments adjacent to the rear window may have been intended to work with louvers, but those came along later. In the meantime, they served as interior vents. Louvers weren’t factory-fitted to any RX-3s (or 808s) until several years later, when they were part of a tape/louver/badge “sporty” package mean to revive a car that was soon to go away.

    I really liked my RX-3, at least until it started coughing up rotor seals. It was a very speedy machine, and reasonably comfortable. To me, the piston-powered Mazdas were real nothingburgers.

  2. Scotty G

    Dang, already sold! A pretty rare car here. (waiting for several negative replies on why they’re rare; “they’re junk, they rusted out, never were any good, etc..”) (zzzzzzz)..

    • Barry

      Rotary engines are fast , I have had a couple but the rotary engines are only good for 45-50,000 miles before you have to replace the engine main bering. That will run almost as
      much cost wise as a complete new motor!

      • Paul

        45-50,000 miles huh? My 87 RX7 Turbo has 154,000 and still have great compression and no bearing issues, where do you get your info from??

        Been working on RX7’s for 30 years now and the only rotaries that had problems were the early rx2’s and rx3’s and some rx4’s, but to lump all rotaries together like that is misleading.

  3. Waldon Herdman

    Looks like a Vegas ugly brother…

  4. Howard A Member

    I remember the 808. I think Mazda thought we’d go banana’s over the rotary, ( which we didn’t) so they had to muster up a piston engine car quick, and this was it. Mazda was pretty much unheard of then, and to most American’s, “what’s this rotary business”? These cars were geared for the 55 mph speed limit, and sorely needed a 5 speed. They were terrible rusters, so to see ANY car like this is pretty rare. A quick note to Paul, the RX-7 engine is/was a totally refined motor, but I think it was too late for most, as people who bought early rotaries found out, it was not a good engine. Plenty of power though. I test drove a RX-4, and it was a really nice car, but I couldn’t get past the rotary part and the cloud of smoke it left behind brand new.

  5. DW

    Oh man, that car brings back memories. I had an 808 when I was about 18 way back when the earth was still cooling. Had a nice custom paint job and slotted mag wheels. Looked pretty good even if it was an average little four banger in reality.

    Lent it to my sister who went to see her boyfriend 100 miles away. End of the weekend comes, and I arrive home to see that my 808 isn’t in the driveway but my sister is back. I still remember the guilty look on her face when I asked where it was.

    “In a storage yard,” she says, “That’s where they towed it after I rolled it.”

    I was hopping mad because I didn’t want to lend it to her in the first place and then SHE was mad because I didn’t ask her if she was hurt in the rollover. Girls! Do they think we really care about that stuff when the love of our life is gone? lol

  6. Scotty G
  7. AMC STEVE

    You learn something new everyday

  8. Dutch 1960

    These typically came with a 1.5 or a 1.6 liter engine, this one has a 1.3, and was sold in the U.S. as the “Mazda Mizer”. Great mileage, no oomph. Those are the bigger U.S. bumpers, too, so it was probably originally a U.S. model.

    • Joe Berk

      Yes, you are correct. My first car was a red with black interior 808 Coupe. Massive fun for a 16 year old gearhead. Polished up the valve cover, put a K&N air filter in the breather, made up some orange silicone spark plug wires, cut off the catalytic converter and muffler, replaced it with a Cherry Bomb muffler with a chrome tip clamped on it. I was a ricer before I ever knew there were ricers!!😂😂😂

  9. 9k2164s

    I had a twin to this car while attending school in Boston in the 80’s. Mine was a “Mizer”. Believe I paid $50 for it. Pretty dependable as long as it didn’t rain. Drove it to Buffalo and back at one point. Decided to junk it when the left side of the driver’s seat fell through the floor. Shared a lot of parts with my first gen RX7. Sure was fun in the snow…

  10. MountainMan

    I sure like this little car. the Japanese classic market is strong so not surprised it has already found a new home

  11. Car Guy

    I had a 73 RX3 that we inserted a race prepared 13b, lowered and put a holley double pumper, with a header. It was so fast that the vettes of the time could not keep up. It was fast.
    If i remember early on Mazda almost went bankrupt as the early rotaries would eat seals, if you drove it hard the seals lasted for 100,000 miles, but if you drove it normal they would self destruct after 15,000 to 50,000 miles. The 73 we prepped for racing was owned by a little old lady, and the motor was toast. I loved that car, quite the sleeper, pull up beside a hot car, step on it and watch the guys jaw drop as this Little Mazda would zip up to 140 mph in no time. All you had to do to hop it up is make it breath, an that motor would rev like their was no tomorrow. They wine they would make were so distinct.

  12. Oldnash

    I had both a 1976 and a 1977 Mazda 808 Mizer. I drove the 76 for 99,800 until the timing chain went out. It did have a timing chain, not a timing belt. It looked a bit like a large bicycle chain. Both cars were station wagons. I gave the 76 an Earl Scheib $39.95 paint job. Bright yellow. Both were very good cars.

  13. Alfred Raguckas

    A 1976 Mazda 808 coupe was my first car. Paid $3060 brand new off the lot. It was medium blue with white racing stripes along the side bottom. I remember getting 42 mpg and it was quick and nimble with a stick shift. I was up at college and lent it to my dad while his car was in the shop and he totalled it! I had one car payment left and it only had 45,000 miles on it. I was soooo bummed. It was very dependable and fun to drive.

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