Craigslist Find – 1986 Mazda 626 makes makes me misty-eyed

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One of the odd patterns I’ve noticed on craigslist the last few years is that the are precious few Mazda 626’s on the market that are older than 1989. 96, 99, 02? Not a problem. 88, 87, 86? No dice. Take a look for yourself to see what I mean. That’s what makes today’s craigslist find so unique, and frankly, exciting. Let me explain why.

From the ad:

1986 Mazda 626, blue, does not currently run but a lot of money has already been invested into the car. Parts that have already been replaced are: Starter, ignition coil, battery, full-tune up and oil change, distributor, and more. Firestone has done the majority of the work and we can get a history if needed. The body is in good condition, the interior is fair. $800 obo.

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Not my car, but very close.

In 1999, the year before I graduated, my parents picked up a silver 1986 Mazda 626. It had belonged to a friend of the family, and was a daily driver. I was smitten immediately, and I couldn’t explain why. I suppose it was sporty, small, and fun, words we couldn’t use to describe the cars we were driving at the time. It was also the first 5-speed car we had owned in many years, so I got to cut my teeth on it. When they gave it to me for college, I put thousands of miles on it, enjoying every minute of it. In the years I owned it, I replaced the water pump, the radiator, and perfected the fine art of aiming headlights. At some point, Dad put a set of alloys from an 87 on it, ditching the cracked and broken hub cap & steelies. It had well over 200,000 miles by the time I got rid of it, something I wish I hadn’t done.

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This interior brings back a lot of good memories. I took many road trips in this car, and though small, it’s much more comfortable than you might think. The bolsters on these seats appear to be supportive, and much bigger than the ones I had. The seats are low and wide, great for tall guys like me. The back seat is small but accommodating, and they fold (almost) flat to make for a pretty cargo space. My biggest complaint was the steering wheel, which I felt was about an inch too large in diameter. Other nice features are the door pulls – this car has them. On my 626, time took its toll on the fragile plastic, leaving them in several pieces in my hands. Happened to me twice. Regardless, the interior of this car, which the seller considers “fair”, is really not bad.

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I’m not really sure what’s going on with the hood – is it unlatched? Is it a poorly installed replacement? Either way, the body looks good, and not missing trim or anything like that. (Aside – that giant front bumper makes a handy place to hold tools and a drink while you’re under the hood.)

For just $800, I could put $500 into getting it running again, and be well on my way to another 200,000 miles.

So help me, I want this car. Somebody stop me.


[Source: Seattle craigslist]

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15 responses to “Craigslist Find – 1986 Mazda 626 makes makes me misty-eyed”

  1. stigshift Avatar

    I had an '88 MX6 GT Turbo, and I miss it still. I do prefer the body style of the "88-'91 coupe. Aside from the nose, it looks very similar to the BMW 850-840 coupe.

  2. Number_Six Avatar

    I had a couple of 62sixes of this ilk and while they ran well over the 250,000km mark with ease, they tended to eat alternators like candy (as did my older RWD 62sixes). That's about the only bad thing I can say about these lovely old boxes; well, that and they were a really dull car to drive…

    1. Vairship Avatar

      Uppey-thumbsey for the spelling of 62sixes 😉

  3. racer139 Avatar

    I had an 88 626 gt turbo as my first decent car and my brother had an 86 gt turbo on the road at age 13. While his was a very nice example it decided he was just to young to have it and one night under a much older friends care itcaught fire. My 88 was great except for the four altenators inthree years finally tracked down to an interior light circut. I put well over 100k km on that car before the autobox self destructed.

  4. Kogashiwa Avatar

    People talking about money "invested" into a car never ceases to entertain me.

    1. Vairship Avatar

      Especially when he's been replacing the (apparently, since the car still doesn't run) wrong parts.

  5. dukeisduke Avatar

    I prefer the first-gen RWD ones:
    <img src=""&gt;

    1. MVEilenstein Avatar

      I do like those. Love that back window.

  6. blueplate Avatar

    I see a lot of classic Fox Body Mustang in the first shot, am I crazy?

    1. MVEilenstein Avatar

      Long hood, short deck, relatively flat windshield? No, not crazy.

  7. P Trout Avatar
    P Trout

    You hit a nerve.
    My family had 3 of them. The one for all 3 of us high school aged kids (catholic) was a blue on blue 83, loaded with a 5 speed.
    My dad had an 85 burgundy on burgundy, loaded, 5 speed, and my grandmother had an 84, burgundy on burgundy, loaded automatic.
    All were bought used, and none cost more than $2500.
    the 83 blew a head gasket at 120,000. I nursed it home, and it ran again, to finally throw the timing belt at 180,000.
    the 85 threw its timing belt at 220,000.
    my brother totaled the 84 with 80,000.
    the only problem we ever had with any of them,
    (besides the deferred maintenance that caused the timing belts to go)
    was alternators.
    the good news was, you knew right away when it went bad, because a relay in the dash would start to buzz.
    It got to the point where I just carried a spare alternator in the trunk.
    I could swap it out in less than 4 minutes.
    I miss that car.

    1. MVEilenstein Avatar

      I forgot about that – we did replace the head gasket once. Otherwise, it was relatively trouble-free.

  8. NotJustDucky Avatar

    I had one of these ('86 LX 4dr 5sp), and before I got mine I dated a girl who had a similar one. The Northeastern Tin Worm struck both cars in the exact same place; the rear strut towers, right at the seam with the trunk floor. Gave out most of the way around the tower and the rear suspension wedged itself up about 1 1/2" in to the trunk. Granted, a sample size of two does not a conclusive data set make, but it might be part of the reason for a lack of availability of pre-'88 models. Before the ass end rotted out, I managed to put over 100K on mine, brining it to ~210K by the time I gave up on it.
    Other than a fuel pump and a clutch, I don't remember any major mechanical problems, but the big annoyance toward the end was that the gear track for the power windows was made out of plastic, and it started losing teeth. Having the first one or two break wasn't that big a deal, but when the motor could only roll the window up about 2/3's of the way up and I had to keep the window closed with duct tape when it was cold or rainy, it became apparent I might have a bit of a problem.
    I saw another one recently on CL, and I was reminded of just how '80s that plastic dash really was.

  9. Bruce Avatar

    I have an '87 turbo still running. Want it?

    1. MVEilenstein Avatar