In addition to being a Nissan fanboy at the time, I also viewed (and still view) Mazda as a grossly underrated car company. Their vehicles have a certain character about them, one that’s lacking in most “modern” cars. Well, one day while I was riding my bike to work (the G20 had since become a lawn ornament) I came across this very clean-looking 626 for sale at a local auto repair shop. I could tell it was a V6 by the wheels, but remained doubtful it was a five-speed. Despite that, I went to check the car out and, lo and behold, it was!
I immediately left a deposit on the car, and within a week it was in the same spot in my driveway that my G20 had inhabited not too long before. I always viewed this car as my little secret: At the time, 0-to-60 in 7.1 seconds was pretty damn fast for a family sedan, and it handled VERY well (remember, this car loaned its chassis to the Ford Probe, which was also considered one of the better-handling FWD cars of its day).
The KL motor revved to 7K and beyond, and sounded very good while doing so (after I put my exhaust on, I regularly found myself downshifting just to hear the exhaust note). This was definitely a car designed by the same people who brought us the RX-7. Unfortunately, the car didn’t seem to love me as much as I loved it, and it took great joy in nickel-and-dimeing me to death. The electrical and mechanical problems never seemed to end, and the final straw came when it suffered a catastrophic meltdown right after I put in a low-mileage engine. It was time to cut my losses at this point–this car HAD to go. And then, just as I was beginning to think I’d never find a reliable car, I found one from the most unexpected source….