As is amply documented on this website, I’m not typically a fan of modded cars, though I will concede that sometimes some mods (in moderation) can make a lot of sense. In the present case, those wheels make no sense at all. As I was looking at this entire car, that was not the only thing that left me scratching my head. For one thing, I was also wondering how this huge Mazda managed to look so damn sharp.
I really have not much more than a fleeting acquaintance with the Mazda B-Series line of pickups. There are still plenty of these tough trucks (albeit in 2-door form, usually) in Southeast Asia, so I have seen them around – but that’s not quite the same thing as really looking into them. But then I ran into this oddball (well, odd rectangle) B-Series in north Tokyo, things did not fully compute.
In 1985, Mazda launched the 4th generation (UF) of their B-Series range of pickup trucks. These were quite traditional body-over-ladder chassis vehicles with a double wishbone IFS and a leaf-sprung live rear axle, available in three wheelbases from 276cm to 316cm (109-124.5 inches) and with a variety of body styles, depending on the market. Engines were all of the 4-cyl. variety, be they petrol or Diesel, and were comprised between 2.0 and 2.6 litres in displacement – again, depending on where they were assembled and/or sold. The bulging hood on our CC seems to indicate a fuel-injected 2.6, but who really knows?
Because the Mazda B-Series was assembled and sold all over the place. The mother ship in Hiroshima supplied a half dozen global locations (including Australia, China, Colombia, South Africa, Thailand, Zimbabwe…) with necessary parts for local manufacture, using a variety of names – and even, as in Australia, branded as a Ford. Some places had local body variants not seen elsewhere, which might be what we have here.
Initially, this generation of B-Series was not sold in Japan, being over the size limit for the lowest tax band. But in 1990 Mazda felt they could reintroduce them on the domestic market as the Proceed, with the extended cab body. In 1991, Mazda did what Isuzu, Nissan and Toyota were all doing at the time and slapped a roof on their pickup truck to make a quickie SUV called (bafflingly, but that’s the JDM for you) “Proceed Marvie.” They used the double cab as a base, despite that body style not having been sold in Japan.
So that’s what we have here, right? Well, there are a few issues – beyond the stance and tiny wheels. One is that this vehicle is registered as a proper full-size truck (the “130” number on the license plate), just like Escalades or Navigators. Or 8-ton Hino trucks. And unlike standard issue Marvies, which were 300 (registered as a large car). This may seem like a trivial matter, but it means the Japanese taxman knows something we don’t about this vehicle.
All of the Marvie add-ons, from bumper overriders to running boards, are absent – they could have been taken off the vehicle, of course, just like the turn signal repeaters, which are also MIA. But then that’s par for the course, given the look this wagon is going for.
To top it off, it’s left-hand drive – a sure sign, when Japanese cars are concerned, that it was not manufactured domestically. And I’m not seeing the necessary controls for the transfer case: all B-Series sold here came with a part-time 4WD transmission, but it looks like this is a purely RWD vehicle.
Let’s take a minute to appreciate the amazing condition of the interior and the available space. There should be a third row of seats behind this one, or rather there would be in a standard issue Proceed Marvie, but here all I saw back there was a sizable carpeted cargo area. Perhaps the rearmost seats were taken out, or can be folded away. Or perhaps this is a completely different vehicle, not the RHD 7-seater 4WD station wagon that Proceed Marvies are supposed to be.
Incidentally, there was another B-Series production station wagon, made in Thailand. But it’s yet another body. Our feature car’s clearly based on the Marvie, not this. And those Thai B-Series would all have been RHD… Maybe our Marviesque contraption came over from China or the Philippines. I’m not sure if they made those there, but they did assemble the B-Series.
Yet it’s such a perfectly formed wagon. It’s an Asian ‘90s equivalent of the IH Travelall, but with an added element of cool. Perhaps that was added by the owner of this particular Mazda, to be fair, but even that Thai wagon looked somewhat appealing.
The owner’s choice to adding small touches of chrome – the door handles, the mirrors – and spraying the whole thing black are ones I can fully get behind. Gotta do something about those wheels, though! Something in a 15 or 16 inch, sans whitewall please.
Finding out solid info about this Mazda proved rather difficult. I’m not sure what engine is in there, what transmission, where or when it was built, why it’s classed as a heavy truck, why it has roller-skate wheels or why I still find myself strangely drawn towards to it, despite my better judgment. Ah well, c’est la Marvie.
Cars of a Lifetime: 1986 Mazda B2000 Pickup – Short Timer Hauler, by David Saunders