Mazda Australia Heritage Collection Volume III. Part I – 40 Years of the Mazda 3(23).

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Prior to my last post on here, I received an email from Mazda Australia’s Heritage Technician, John Robinson asking me if I’d like to come back to the Mazda HQ in Mulgrave to shoot the current 323 display. Of course I replied with a solid yes and a date was set… I was just hoping that my new lens arrived in time. To follow on from what I was talking about in my last post on Subinats, I mentioned (a few times, I know) that I returned a dodgy Tamron lens due to soft focus issues and was awaiting a new Sigma lens. Luckily the Sigma arrived two days before I was due to visit Mazda to shoot the 323 Collection, (I’ll also be doing a separate post on the Targa Tasmania prepped Rx-8 you saw one photo of way back in one of my last visits) but anyway due to other commitments I didn’t really get a chance prior to shooting these photos to test the new Sigma lens. It turns out it does have some weird auto focus motor ‘clicking’ noise, even on manual focus but only when the ‘Live view’ screen is displayed. I’ve read this can be normal and some lens’ are louder than others. My last one didn’t have this issue and in my 9 or so years of photographing things, I’ve never come across this issue. I may have to look more into this but anyway, none of you are here to listen to me whine on about camera issues so let’s continue onto the reason you’re all reading.

The Mazda 323 display was to celebrate 40 years of the Mazda 3(23). The cars you see here had just returned from QLD where they were driven back to back and reviewed by journalists to celebrate the anniversary – you can check that article out on http://sunshinecoastdaily.com.au or view videos from Cars Guide on Youtube. Of course there were predecessors to the Mazda 323 dating back as far as the early 60’s with the Mazda Familia (a name which carried on in some countries up until the early 2000’s) but the first officially badged ‘323’ was in 1977, 40 years ago.

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Starting with the earliest of the collection and a car you would have seen in one of my last posts from Mazda, a facelift version (square headlights) orange and brown 1980 5 door 323 hatch. I covered the history of this particular car in my last post (here) but just to refresh your memory; it was originally purchased and owned by the gardener for South Melbourne Mazda in 1980 and held onto, then handed over to the heritage collection by the original owner’s grand daughter who also happens to be a current Mazda employee. I admit I didn’t take too many shots of it as you can view more of it ‘here’ but one thing I didn’t notice when I shot the car the first time around was that it has over 887,000 kilometres on the clock, yet is such a well looked after and cleaned up example.

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Alongside the orange hatch was a green 1984 BD 323 5 door hatch. This particular model 323 also came in pre-facelift and facelift versions, this being that of the latter. Matched with the dullish sort of minty green exterior was an equally dullish and basic basic interior but I like it.

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Simple is best, especially when it comes to cars and there’s just something about a clean original classic 80’s interior that makes me feel at home. Maybe that’s due to 10 or so years of personally owning (mainly) 80’s cars. They really are now classics, like it or not, some 90’s cars would also be considered classic, especially going by the 25 year or older rule and that’s something we just have to accept, the older we get and the older the cars get, the newer the classics get. To be honest, I wasn’t going to end that there but what a perfect unintentional segway to move onto the next couple of cars in the collection.

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Starting with the oldest of the two, a 1992 Astina SP, which in Australia came with a 1.8L DOHC engine, and also had alloy wheels, electric sunroof, windows and mirrors – the difference between the SP model and standard models unless optioned. I’m not sure if the seats fitted were an SP only option, but they’re pretty cool and I’m half tempted to find myself a pair for the Bluebird.

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Up next was a 1996 Astina V6, fitted with alloy wheels, foglights and was also the first car in the line up fitted with an auto transmission. Very typical 90’s sports car looking, this version of the Astina – named the Mazda Lantis in Japan – also came with full electrics and had pillar less windows, which was something I wasn’t aware of until I opened the door on this particular car. The V6 version of the Astina also came with 5 stud hubs as apposed to the 4 cylinder models only running a 4 stud set up.

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The last two cars in the line up were both later models still, hence to be honest I didn’t take many photos of either. The yellow being a 2001 model Astina SP20 5 door hatch, and the black, a 2005 Mazda 3. The SP20 was basically the Australian version of the Japanese model Sport 20, albeit with a slightly changed front end. One thing I didn’t know about these which I found kind of cool was that they come fitted with a factory Nardi steering wheel.

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That’s all for this Part I return visit to Mazda Australia. In Part II I’ll be showing you more of the Targa Tasmania prepped Rx-8 SP.

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