Mazda’s ads over the past ten years have seemed almost desperate to play up sportiness, reminding me of Pontiac in the ’90s. This rather prominent layout in the January 1979 Motor Trend, on the other hand, highlights value and economy. While, as in more recent spots, this mainstream model is compared to a sports car, its tone is more apologetic, reminding readers, “We Make Piston Engines! Promise!!”
I will say, I prefer the old Mazda, with unabashedly functional, dour cars sold alongside the RX-7.
Had a 2 door panelvan 323 a 82 model 1500cc engine, very good little car.
Keep looking at that ad and wondering why that car looks like it’s missing something.
The GLC and the RX-7 are both without right-side mirrors.
right mirrors were not standard on a lot of cars…My 77 corolla and my 80 Scirocco both had only drivers side mirrors
Yes, most of my cars from the 70’s into the early 80’s did not have a right hand mirror (one was added to my ’78 Scirocco, completely manual of course, vs the inside mechanical adjusted left side mirror).
Wonder when (if) right hand mirrors became standard on cars…it seems that all of them including the lowest cost ones now have such a mirror…guess it is also needed due to the atrociously bad rear visibility on many new cars (opposite of lots of the ’80’s cars like Hondas)
Extremely fond of these 323s- a close mate had a blue hatchback that we called the Blue Wombat, due to its stocky shape.
It did sterling service running us down to Tropical Fruits dances at Lismore, and nudie beaches at Byron Bay right into about 2002, when old age and neglect caught up with it.
My ex boyfriend had the spiritual descendant , a 2003 Mazda 121. It became known as Wombatu-chan, Cute Little Wombat in Japanese.
Great little cars indeed!
The Mazda print ads of the early 80s were excellent IMO. I thought they did a great job of furthering the Mazda brand in North America. Perhaps not quite to Honda or Toyota ad standards. But they were memorable. Plus, they had a half decent tagline, “The more you look, the more you like.” In the TV ads, they had a woman singing, “Just One Look, That’s All it Took”. Very catchy.
At the time, car ads in general, seemed to be chock full of extra technical details. They consistently showed prices, gas mileage, options, and made good use of technical illustrations and cutaways. You didn’t see safety ratings though.
What I liked about the Mazda ads, was they always showed the cars in silver. This is when silver still looked fairly unique. Plus they used an additional metallic silver spot colour ink background in their ads. This added to their cost, but made the ads look great. I remember Toyota, Honda, Datsun and Mazda all started to produce some fantastic and memorable print and TV ads at this time.
Not only were Japanese cars getting better. Their marketing was getting very good too. Who can forget all of those Honda ads with Burgess Meredith’s voice over? Or the ‘Oh What a Feeling!’ Toyota ads. And Datsun’s ‘We are driven’ tagline.
The great marketing by the American ad agencies they hired, really got me interested in Mazda and the other Japanese brands for the first time.
The Burgess Meredith Honda ads are by far the best. They don’t talk about the car as much as they tell you it’s the obvious choice. I intended to a post about those in the future.
I like Mazda’s print ads a bit more than Honda’s, since they were full of information about design and engineering.
Toyota’s ads, on the other hand, were corny.
After Burgess Meredith, Honda had Daniel J Travanti from Hill Street Blues, then Richard Dreyfuss, then Kevin Spacey…Too bad they’ve hit rock bottom with Michael Bolton
Michael Bolton? I guess I haven’t been watching enough TV; I’ve never seen a Honda ad featuring Michael Bolton. What demographic are they trying to reach by using him as a spokesperson? Dead people?
People who saw this (i. e. mostly people in their twenties and early thirties):
Michael Bolton? I guess I haven’t been watching enough TV; I’ve never seen a Honda ad featuring Michael Bolton.
He was in a series of ads around Christmas.
Jack Lemmon voiced some Honda ads in the early 90s. I remember one that toured the Accord plant in Marysville, Ohio. Here’s another one he did.
Nobody really did safety ads back then. As a nation, we weren’t scared to death to leave our houses, get in our cars, and drive on the highway.
A mate of Dad’s bought an RX7 in 1979 to celebrate his divorce,it was called the Meno – Porsche behind his back as he tried his best to be a middle aged playboy.I was driving a Mazda 616 for a short while back then as I drove my flatmate around while she was banned for speeding.
Lol Meno-Porsche! I’m getting an image of gold medallions, crook facial hair and lots of male décolletage…
Imagine a scrawny greying Burt Reynolds wanna be but not quite looking the part drowned in aftershave.
Note too, that print ads were starting to become quite complex technically. That is, these older ads featured cutaways, detailed technical illustrations, close cropped and airbrushed photos. Plus creative typography. All in an era before desktop publishing came into use in the mid 1980s. So, these ads would have been a handful to prepare, and quite labor intensive compared to today. Involving plenty of photo retouching, overlay film and typesetting work.
I absolutely love Mazda’s. Specifically the 626/Capella line from 1979-1992 (BC through GD platforms). I have had an ’86 and an ’87 (GC). ’91 sedan, an ’89 MX-6, and currentely daily drive a ’91 hatchback (GD). I have only spotted one BC chassis car (79-82) here in Missouri. They were still rear wheel drive and extremely handsome in 2-door configuration. I would love to have a GC car again (’83-’87), but they have all rusted away in these parts.
You have a turbo or 4WS?
None of my cars were turbo or 4ws, bummer, I know. But one of my best friends ad an ’87 GT sedan with the non-intercooled FE 2.0 SOHC. Fun car to drive, I loved the digital dash that was in it. It was a little laggy, but when she spooled it was quite the rush! I was very very jealous of him and that car. I also went to school with a guy that had a ’90 GT with the intercooled 2.2 F2T. If I had a choice on turbo’d models, my money would always be on the F2T cars. The 4ws cars were pretty rare in the States if I’m not mistaken.
My first COAL on this site was a ’79 626.
It looks like I got the title wrong as there have actually been 42 total, not 40…
Great car. There is a very similar ad to the one above in existence as well
Beautiful car. The color on it works well, and that further cements my opinion of the coupes. Definitely an under appreciated car of the past, in my opinion.
Mazdas are excellent cars that most American buyers never buy. I don’t know why anyone could choose a boring Camcord appliance over a Mazda.
Enjoy the brand! I don’t know how they survive with their expensive Japanese manufacturing costs.
Press coverage of the brand was never as flattering as for Honda and Toyota and during the ’80s, they seemingly forgot to style their cars.
Now, they promote sportiness too heavyhandedly. Their older cars handled well but they didn’t advertise it. They were very “Miss Hoover from The Simpsons” cars.
I think Protegés and 323’s had a plurality in the teacher’s parking lot at my elementary school. The superintendent had a Honda, of course:
“You know, I used to think a car was just a way of getting from point A to point B, and on weekends point C. But that was the old me. That man died the moment I laid eyes on a 1979 Honda Accord.” Superintendent Chalmers, you are truly one of us.
Anyway, looking through 626 ads in the 1980s they tended to emphasize the sportiness then, too. BMW is one of the worst words mentioned in this very Original Preppie Handbook-ish ad while this ad from 1985 also emphasizes sportiness. Granted, those were both for the coupe, but the Porsche 924 gets name-dropped even in this British commercial for the five-door (my favorite of the bunch). I think they’ve always emphasized, or even over-emphasized, the handling and sportiness—it’s just that advertising in general is louder now so the message is too.
Mazda has set out to prove they build a better car than Ford in each segment so far they are right, the 6 is a better Mondeo 3 is a better Focus and so on, its working and the cars are selling even the JDM imports are getting thick on the ground here
When the 323 Mazdas were a newish car My future BIL had one as a company car, he let me drive it, I wound it up to 145kmh on gravel it drove really well, the later model van/wagon I had went better it had a bigger motor and it flew on the gravel backroads of southern Tassie it commuted into Hobart day in day out never missed a beat, I bought it for a slab of Boags Draught threw a wreckers yard used engine in it and drove the results for 3 years trouble free, great little cars? Damn right they are
People appreciate value and economy, but they don’t necessarily buy it. Especially now, when people with less money to spend (like the elusive youth market) can’t afford new cars anyway.
The dourness of Mazda’s late ’70s and early ’80s cars was to some extent a reflection of the company’s near collapse in the mid-70s. If they’d been a U.S. company, they almost certainly would have perished, but as it was, the banks that were their major creditors judged that the potential damage to the Hiroshima economy would have been too great, so there was a reorganization instead. So, they survived, but it was a near thing and it was pretty rough going for a while.
The pairing of the GLC and RX-7 was smart thinking for their U.S. ad agency because at that point, having those two cars was pretty keeping Mazda alive. The GLC sold to people who were freaked about the Iranian revolution and the latest oil crisis and the RX-7 kept Mazda interesting. The RX-7 was pretty wildly popular in the early years — not quite as much of a phenomenon as the Miata later, but not far off.
My brother owned a 78 GLC hatchback in the early 80’s.
Bought used it served him very well for 4 years or so.
A testament I think to the Mazda’s build quality and reliability, as 4 years of car ownership/abuse under my brother would easily be equal to 10 with another driver.
With that being said the little GLC was not the best car for Minnesota winters given its rear wheel drive and light weight. I always imagined its driveshaft being at the most 2 feet long 🙂
In 1985, University Mazda in Seattle ran ads for the GLC wagon as the ultimate ‘Yuffie-mobile’ (young urban failure) for $5995. I don’t remember how many they sold, but the ad cracked me up.
As someone who’s owned no less than five GE 626s (the v6/5-speeds are rare and a great combination), an ’85 626, an NA Miata, and a ’99 Millenia, I guess you could say that I’m fairly obsessed with Mazda as a company. I’d love to own a GD hatch and a 323GT, someday.
I would love to get my hands on a GF with the V6 and a 5-speed in ES trim.
The target demographic for the ads have changed.
Thirty years ago, the target was male, so ads were designed to appeal to gearheads and guys trying to get a date.
Now, ads are aimed at women, so we hear about the 18 airbangs 37 cupholders and how safely they can take their daughters to soccer practice.
People give the 84 Cherokee credit for starting the SUV craze. International beat them to it, by several years. I remember a TV ad for the Scout II in the mid 70s that completly targeted women by featuring attributes like “I sit higher, so I can see over other cars”
This Mazda ad always cracked me up.
I think I have a model Mazda,the pink taxi driven by Barbara the transexual taxi driver in The League of Gentlemen TV series came with the videos of the show.