Our Cars: My 1991 Mazda 323F with Unblurred Plates

This is my 1991 Mazda 323F, again. It’s the car I’ve driven since 2009, having accumulated some 57 000 km onto the odometer, bringing the grand total to a tick over 151 000 km. The 150k km point was reached last September at the Ahvenisto track, where I proceeded to slam it driver-side-first into a tire wall in the rain, effectively ruining the sheetmetal on that side. I then had to acquire whatever body parts I could, including a rusty-but-cheap front fender and a driver’s door that was rotten from the bottom seam. The rear door is also mounted too back, which means it chafes. Other features? GT seats that look a bit worn, tinted tail lights that I’ve noticed let water in, and a Pioneer CD player that won’t always play new CD:s and when it does, only the driver door speaker works. Rubber-wise, the car wears winter tires as the jack’s broken and I haven’t changed the Melber alloys on yet – but those have a huge load of score marks due to an incompetent tire shop worker a year ago.

Why am I writing such a candid confidential post? You see, yesterday I received some very sour comments, some of them written in Finnish, that claim that am I not only a pretentious hack but a dangerously dumb one as well as all of my traffic sightings have their registration plates visible. This, according to the commenter, means that the cars are identifiable to thieves, and make the cars more susceptible to break-ins. While that is true that the plates are unblurred, they’re also unblurred in real life – and real life is what I’ve wanted to document. This town has such a vivid car scene it’s incredible: just a lunchtime walk can easily show me half a dozen fantastically interesting cars. I’ve wanted to capture the town streets just like a reader in California would see them, were him/her instantly transported in Finland. (Top tip, if that happens, be wary where you get your coffee. Some of it is absolute tar.)

And since it’s such a great town for traffic sighting content, I’d hate to let the faithful commenters down and just quit posting Finnish stuff. True, I might cut down. True, I don’t want a vanload of US car enthusiasts (or Opel, or Volvo for that matter) barging on my door and threatening to spiderweb my windshield. But, to keep everybody somewhat satisfied, this 323F posting will be the last of my sighting articles with plates unblurred. From now on, all my streetside sightings will feature a blank plate both front and back. There’ll also be less content of enthusiast cars.

And just to have actual content in this article, here are a couple of photos that show the 323F partially disassembled – and the way it stands today. Make the jump to see them.

Yes, this is what a 323F looks without a fender and without a front panel. Back when I bought the car, I had to replace the front panel as it was already bent and the then-replacement was never really that good, as it was a junkyard-sourced, cheaply-resprayed panel that was a bit bent as well. And since my DRL:s were by now no longer working and my gf had busted one by hitting a rabbit (or was it the other way around?) it felt like a good idea to strip the car on Sunday and start to replace the dodgy panels with better, more rust-free ones. Then, as I was halfway through, it started to rain. I had to wait until today to reassemble the car, and the door will just have to wait.

So, right now it only needs the door replacement with the rust-free one that I have in storage. The bird poo will also have to go, and the outsourced DRL replacement is scheduled for later. Maybe that’ll mean the battery issues will be gone; the car has been emptying its battery if not driven for a couple days. With this article, I’m sure I’ve forever sealed the car’s fate as a former wreck and decimated the residual value: this means jack as I’ll never be selling it. The last time I let a red Mazda go, some idiot beat it to death in six months.

And like I said, even the MR2 guy who only barely survived a carbon monoxide poisoning whilst driving, drove better at Ahvenisto than I did. I might need to work on my skills. But my writing? That’s down to you to judge.


[Images: Copyright 2012 Hooniverse/Antti Kautonen except for track photo Joose Puustinen]

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