RE: Shed of the Week: Mazda MX-3

RE: Shed of the Week: Mazda MX-3

Friday 20th October 2017

Shed of the Week: Mazda MX-3

Shed thinks he's found an alternative to increasingly costly classic hot-hatches, but is he right?



What does a car have to have to make it a classic? Style? Speed? Rarity? Exotic mechanicals? The right badge? Stupidly low mileage?


Usually it's a case of permutating two or three of these ingredients to arrive at an agreed definition of a classic.

For Shed, a classic car is one that looks, sounds and feels faster than it is. That way he can continue using the same specs that he's worn for driving for the last 30 years, ignoring pleas from the opticians to come in for a re-test. He would do if he could find it.

Anyway, there are a number of cars that obviously fit this bill. Most of them are superminis like the Citroen AX GT, 106 GTI and the like, but Mrs Shed refuses to get in them. Or to put it more accurately, she can't get in them. While this would seem to be an upside rather than a downside, Shed's fear of physical violence requires him to look elsewhere.


Mazda's MX-3 fits the bill. This 323-based, front-wheel drive, coupé was binned from the Mazda range in 1998, a victim of emission regs. In today's crazy world where even SUVs are claiming coupé status, this is a proper one with a tiny 60-degree, 1.8-litre, 24-valve V6 and a nice low top speed of 120mph.

You can play sweet music on the K-series (Mazda/Ford's, not Rover's). It's no VTEC, but the tacho invites you up to 7,000rpm and the fuel keeps pumping until 7,800. Our SOTW ad puts the power at just 95hp. That's a typo: it's more like 134hp, and that peak output arrives at the redline, so it's actually your duty to run it into the red zone. Here's somebody doing just that, recording an unofficial 0-62mph in 7.5 secs on some nameless Eastern bloc back street.

As you can sort of discern from that vid, Mazda tried to release some V6 rasp via a variable length intake manifold (VLIM) and a Variable Resonance Induction System. To fully liberate the V6 madness, you can fit the block, heads and injectors from the 2.5 MX-6 (or Xedos 9 - remember that?), or indeed the whole engine as it's dimensionally the same. A Japanese-spec 2.5 will deliver 200hp with just an ECU change, but you'd be losing Shed at that point because his specs wouldn't be able to keep up.


Chassis-wise, as noted, it's a front-driver, but a degree or two of passive rear steer was built in by the Twin-Trapezoidal Link back end, which despite sounding more like a circus act than a suspension system actually works pretty well. See it in action about halfway through this official MX-3 advertising film. This vid is talking about the Eunos Presso, a domestic-market 'partner car' for the Eunos MX-5 that came with a viscous limited slip diff. Aftermarket LSD kits for regular MX-3s are (or were, at least) available, but the standard TTL rear-steer gubbins does invest the normal MX-3 with a touch of faux-RWD-iness.

It won't be a cheap car to fuel, and MX-3 parts prices can be on the dear side, but with luck you won't need many of them because they have a handy reputation for reliability. Any smoke from the zorst could mean leaking valve stem seals, and distributors have been known to go wonky, causing hot-start cutouts.

Otherwise the news is good. Post-'94 B-spec engines like this one have non-interference valvetrains so you can either be a good boy and replace the belts at 60,000-mile intervals or simply run them until they snap. Thankfully, Mazda didn't go down the German cost-saving route of using plastic for tensioners or water pump impellers.


Our Shed is not cursed with the frankly terrible automatic gearbox. Less pleasingly though, it's had its standard six-spoke wheels replaced by a set of aftermarket five-spoke 16-inchers with low-profile tyres. Apart from the loss of originality, the current setup leaves the wheel arches looking too spacious. Still, that does allow us to note some paint chipping on one of them - but no rust.

Remarkably, there's not a single mention of corrosion anywhere on the MOT history. Even the notoriously vulnerable underside has somehow escaped the ravages of our salty roads. That is not far short of incredible for one of these, and this car has been priced up to reflect the fact.

Whether anyone will actually spring £1450 for it is another matter. The interior is about as exciting as a wet weekend in Skeggy, with two-tone grey velour seats, a busman's steering wheel and (in this case) the dreaded curly mats. MX-3s also had a weirdly long ignition key which was prone to snapping off if inserted a bit too vigorously. Feel free to add your own Mrs Shed joke there.

Here's the ad.

Stunning RARE Classic car. V6

MOT till 26th March 2018
Alloy wheels
Electric windows and sunroof
Immaculate interior.

Great for it's age
Alarmed

 

 

Author
Discussion

V8 FOU

Original Poster:

2,443 posts

75 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
Excellent Shed!
Forgot about these...... What a jewel of an engine too.

Steamer

10,369 posts

141 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
Had a girlfriend really keen on these back in the day - but I wasnt so convinced.

Was it these or the Mitsi FTO that was a bit of a bugger to change the plugs on the far side of the engine?

culpz

3,412 posts

40 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
It's a bit of an odd looking thing. The side profile looks similar to a Tigra or a Puma. Do these, presumably, rust like an MX-5?

darkyoung1000

1,166 posts

124 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
I was in Slaithwaite on Monday and there was a black one of these being driven enthusiastically (like a bit of a tit if I'm honest), through the town.
It wasn't particularly quick (fortunately), but it did sound good. I've always thought the small capacity V6 was a nice piece of engineering.
Good shed!

Jhonno

2,975 posts

69 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
Quirky SOTW.. I quite like it.
Advertisement

J4CKO

24,030 posts

128 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
With those wheels it reminds me of a Monster Truck on the small wheels they use for transporting them,

Otherwise, interesting but not a lot of want.

MadDog1962

735 posts

90 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
Not a bad effort, and definitely not a boring SOTW.

Shame about that velour interior. If it had leather it would be much more desirable.

7 out of 10.

sgtBerbatov

674 posts

9 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
Does it come with a shoe horn to squeeze Mrs.Shed in?

tedman

175 posts

32 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
Had the 2.0 V6 variant of this engine in a Xedos 6 (unfortunately with the slushy auto-box).

Lovely sounding engine though and decent performance.

Horrendous on fuel.

s m

16,215 posts

131 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
CAR did a Giant Test of the V6, MR2, 1.9 205 and Clio 16v





Said the MX3 was the best motorway cruiser

Bonefish Blues

10,962 posts

151 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
tedman said:
Had the 2.0 V6 variant of this engine in a Xedos 6 (unfortunately with the slushy auto-box).

Lovely sounding engine though and decent performance.

Horrendous on fuel.
It's the sort of engine I always though should have been in the MX5 (although I know this series was designed to be mounted transversely)

CABC

1,815 posts

29 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
Early nineties V6s only in quite exotic stuff. Then Ford and Vauxhall released them and it was the new GTi thing. OH wanted a "V6" so she got a new mx3. Horrible handling, no power, small tank and criminal mpg. No rose tints on this for me. The MX6 on the other hand...

The Don of Croy

4,545 posts

87 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
Borrowed one from Mazda for a day (back when HQ was in Tun Wells you could get some nice loaners when the pitiful 323 was in for another service).

Drove it to Gloucester and back - 400 miles. Lovely engine note, pulled well if prodded but the cabin and handling did not entice...and it was thirsty, cramped, noisy etc.

But a V6 in compact hatch - at least they tried.

s m

16,215 posts

131 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
Golf did a type of V6 in a Golf as well
Ford 'nearly' did one at the time as well - John Bull built one but couldn't 'sell' it to Marketing/Management

soad

28,574 posts

104 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
What's stunning about it? eek

JakeT

1,947 posts

48 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
s m said:
CAR did a Giant Test of the V6, MR2, 1.9 205 and Clio 16v

Yet another top article

Said the MX3 was the best motorway cruiser
Your collection of 90s road tests is amazing and I love it. Never change, SM. thumbup

Someone comes to see the office next door to us with an immaculate one regularly, Sounds brilliant, and a tiny V6 is never a bad thing to me.

MGFozzie

2 posts

44 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
ran one in noble green for many years It was my graduation present to myself.Loved squeezing tall people in the back when i drove them home. huge boot, loved it traded in in 2004 for Mgf which i still have. Paid $22,000 in 1998 for a 3 year old model!

https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/imgs/4.gif

JohnGoodridge

492 posts

123 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
These do look like good value next to the Mk2 Honda CR-X, and besides 1.8l v6 is almost an F1 engine innit? hehe

AC43

5,839 posts

136 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
Having grown up with the sweet flat fours in Alfa's I chose one of these as a company car in the early 90's.

Then I got a pay rise and increase in car allowance and upgraded my choice to a Golf VR6.

But then my pay went up again as did the allowance so I finally ordered a 200SX. The RWD, handling and overall package swung it but the engine was a bit gruff.

I do love a good petrol 6 or 8 and these were great sounding, sweet revving little things. And unusual.


cmoose

41,278 posts

157 months

Friday 20th October 2017
quotequote all
I always imagined he V6 in this thing was a bespoke tiny-blocked thing and pondered how sweet it would be in the MX-5. Surely that would have been a better home for a teensy V6?

Didn't realise it was a smaller capacity version of the same lump available as a 2.5. Bit of a pity!