My Curbside Classic: 1973 Mazda 808 (aka: 818/Grand Familia/Mizer)

[Welcome to our first reader submission, and a new series titled “My Curbside Classic”. This one is by Dave Saunders, known hereabouts as Dave7. This is not his first CC though, as Dave authored the epic Envoy Epic CC at TTAC. He’s obviously got a fatal attraction for out of the ordinary cars. Welcome back Dave, and if any of you have a CC you want to share, let me know or send it in with some pics to ]

Confession time: this isn’t the first Curbside Classic I’ve ever bought. And it probably won’t be the last either. In fact, it’s car number twenty nine. Ok; so I’m trying to reform my car buying and selling ways. And this one might just be a keeper…honest.

I first spotted this 808 back in September 2010 parked on a reasonably busy road in all its Seventies glory. Yellow paint with black stripes, slot mag wheels on skinny tires, wood rimmed steering wheel and vinyl roof. Taken as a whole it gives a rather mini muscle car vibe. It was for sale as well but sadly I owned four other vehicles at the time and the price was a little higher than I could scrape together. It disappeared shortly after and I figured it had sold quickly. Surely I wasn’t the only one that lusted after an early 70s piston powered Mazda.

The 808 (also known as the 818 in other markets like Europe where it was assumed Peugeot owned the rights to any numerical name with a zero in the middle) is the piston powered version of the more famous Rx-3. There are some detail differences as well with the Rx-3 having round tail lights, rotary badges, and trim. This 808 is powered by a 70hp 1.6L four cylinder engine but others variants used 1.3L, 1.5L or 1.6L four cylinder engines. It is almost the same engine as what you find in a same era B-series truck. This car was also sold as the Mizer in the US for the ’76 and ’77 MY, with the smaller 1300 cc engine.

So it’s not the sportiest thing ever but the gearbox has a nice feel to it. At the rear it is rather pickup (or muscle car) like with a live axle and leaf springs. The 808s seem to be more plentiful in Canada (they were later sold in the US as the Mizer with a 1.3L engine) than the Rx-3 likely due to frugalness of the typical Canadian buyer. Mazda claimed 30.5mpg when these where new which is likely twice what the Rx-3 could do.

But months later I was scanning the local online ads as I habitually do when I spotted an ad for a Mazda 808 coupe using my pictures no less. I called up the seller who was an easy going, friendly guy and set a time to view it. Once I saw it again I was smitten all over again and made a cash offer right on the spot despite it being in non-running condition.

The seller said the starter was stuck and engine needed some work done but the interior was in fantastic shape and the all important trim was all there. Since I’ve got it home it is now running and the brakes have been done. There is probably some engine work in its future but for now I’m just waiting for the snow to leave so I can get it insured and plated for the summer.

Interestingly when I posted photos of it online an ex-owner contacted me for a neighbouring province about his 808 experience. He owned a blue 1972 coupe back in the day. Oddly enough I’d seen a blue coupe that looked identical to his in the scrap yard a few years ago. It is possible it was the same car but can’t know for sure as it has since been sold.

waiting for spring