Theme: Japan – 1981 To 1989 Mazda 929 coupe

We may have dealt with this car before. Today it’s here as a photoseries courtesy of our good friends at Autoscout24 where the cars shown here are on sale.

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The images tell most of the story. The bit I want to write about here is the baffling habit the Japanese brands had of multiple names for the same cars. We know this one as the Mazda 929 coupe because that was its European name. In Japan it was either a Cosmo or a Luce. Why the difference? Mazda has a chain of dealerships (Mazda Auto) they owned directly. At Mazda Auto the car you see here had Cosmo badges and could be purchased as a coupe or saloon.

If the dealership was not directly owned (a franchise) this car had the Luce nameplate. Are you ready for more? Cars Mazda sold directly as Cosmos at Mazda Auto had 1.3 litre rotary engines. The franchise dealerships sold the Luce saloon with either piston or rotary engines. Does that make sense? You’d imagine that the rotary engine option would have been a good way to distinguish the Luce from the Cosmo: rotary for one nameplate and pistons for the other.

The piston engine range belies the car’s size: 1.8, and 2.0 litre petrol four-pots. A 2.2 litre diesel served the European market as well. The rotary engines had 1.1 and 1.3 volumes, with the latter turbo charged. You might consider those engines small: I expected a V6. The car has a modest 1100 kg curbweight so those engines had no problem hauling this car.

1988 Olds Cutlass Supreme for comparison
1988 Olds Cutlass Supreme for comparison: Curbside Classics

I have thrown in an image of the 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme coupe. I think the Olds refines the idea of the all-glass C-pillar but the 1981 Mazda must have had some influence. The Olds image came from the unspeakably excellent Curbside Classics site.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

9 thoughts on “Theme: Japan – 1981 To 1989 Mazda 929 coupe”

  1. There’s also a strong resemblance to the 1990s Holden Caprice VQ/VR/VS.

    By then Mazda had moved on to the softer-lined Sentia which was popular in Australia, partly down to the ending of the Button Plan, and the relaxing of duties on imported cars.

    1. “There’s also a strong resemblance to the 1990s Holden Caprice VQ/VR/VS.”

      Hmmn. Perhaps in photographs, but I grew up around both of these models and would never have made the connection. The rake on the Mazda’s rear window is far steeper and ensures it cuts an entirely different dash.

      I will grant that there were more Jag-aping Sentias/929s sold in Oz than you might think, but ‘popular’ is probably a bit of a stretch – they were novel, and attractive, enough to turn heads when you saw them. They cost $80k new from memory, or to put it another way, about twice the price of a contemporaneous Calais or Fairmont.

      I never had any great affection for this generation of 929 when it was new, but my stance has softened with time. Agree the pews are excellent, and the glasshouse was both very distinctive and ahead of its time. The car that Markus posted has real charm and appeal to me. The element I never got along with back in the day, and still struggle with, are the vertically-slatted tail-lamps. I feel like a horizontal-emphasis design would suit the car better and have helped the rear look a bit less like a 1970s relic.

    2. The 90s Caprices look very much to me as if they were going for the same wrap around look. The angular sub-structure means it doesn’t work as well as on the Oldsmobile or Mazda.

  2. Another really nice rice car of the 80ies – Japan had an affection for quirky details (what i really like) in those days….
    Even a bit more quirky is the pre-facelift version of this car – with the senseless third window.

    Btw, the rear sets should have an armrest – or what else is missing there ?

  3. Senseless is not explained. Is that about a criticism about the style? More windows reduce blind-spots and more light give it a sense of greater spaciousness.

    1. I think the “senseless”referes to the middle, moving pane. It is a bit clunky, I agree. Perhaps “senseless” is to harsh. Tidiness calls for one big glass peice behind the b-pillar. Function asks for ventilation and perhaps economy or feasibility ruled tidiness out.
      It’s still a super car. I’d take this over almost any Ferrari.

  4. I cannot add to why the different naming conventions, but I see a segway between Cosmo and Luce and it has to do with light. Large, wraparound windows provide lots of interior light.

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