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Wisdom of buying a 1980s Mazda 323 Famillia for 400k?


urheard2008
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Hi all

 

I know trying to buy a very old used car is asking for trouble unless I know what I'm doing, but should I even consider buying something like a 1985 mazda 323 or lancer for under 500,000? (Yes, that is all I can afford) If it runs without a problem and doesn't require major repairs, I'd call it a good deal, but should I expect to find a decent car for that amount? I don't have any experience inspecting a car for purchase, and have never owed a car before. (I have aging parents and it would be great if I had a way of taking them places, which is why I'm even considering a car). If I can expect not to end up ripped off and with a lemon, do you know of any good places that will have a mechanic for hire to accompany me to have a look at a car?

Thanks and I'm sorry if this type of question has been raised before.

 

 

 

 

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@urheard2008 Almost everyday I cannot help but watch with envy when a 1979 Lancer passes by my home. It is even quieter than my Axio. That kind of specimens are rare but available. As iRage has outlined, all finally boils own to proper maintenance. My brother has a 1985 Mazda 323 which he has been using for the last 7 years or so as a real workhorse. He has been able to source spares, including things like aftermarket door handles, without a problem from Panchikawatte so far.

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Hi..and welcome to the forum (I think you are new ?) !

You raise a bit of a tough question which can be debated for ages without a definite resolve.

I know quite a few people who use cars from the 80s for their daily drive. They are immaculate in condition and have been taken care of like babies and run as good as a new car (even though they have high mileages). Some of these cars, and those like it, have changed hands and typically they run for a lot more than Rs.400K.

Whether a 80s car will serve you well without any serious issues all depends on the condition of the actual car you buy. Most of the popular models of the era are rather durable cars and as a result have had rather harsh lives (and yet they run). If you do find an immaculate 80s car, please remember that you will have to take good care of it to remain in such a state (regular running maintenance, schedules pre-emptive maintenance work, prompt attention to issues, etc..). On the flip side, these cars are very simple and easy to fix. Also, if you are mechanically inclined or like motor mechanics, cars of this era would be a good base for you to learn some skills. However, as time goes by finding certain parts for these cars are becoming harder and harder. (on a side note...I don't know how experienced of a driver you are; but putting dents on these cars would hurt a lot less on your pocket than the new cars, so it would be a good starting point to get some experience in driving as well)

In other words if you buy an old car, be prepared to put in some time and effort in to keeping it in good shape and getting things sorted out.

When buying an old car :

- try to stick to one of the more common cars, it will be easy for you to find replacement parts, etc... If you are an enthusiast then..well you will buy what your heart wants and be happy with it

- pick out a few honest cars (i.e. don't trust a car just because it looks nice and shiny), then take the one/s with the most potential to a reputed car check place.

- if your budget is 500K, spend less than that on the actual purchase and keep some for some fix-ups that you will have to do.

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It all depends on each individual vehicle, at this age almost every single model will have some repairs to be done. 

For checking the car you can take it to a place like carchecks. 

In addition to what iRage said find a car that has been in unmolested. What I mean by that most of these old cars have so called "modifications" on them. Stuff like bigger wheels, ride height adjustments only make things worse. 

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I have a 1985 Ford Laser (essentially the same car as the Mazda 323) which is currently getting restored.

Mechanically, it is such a simple car that any competent mechanic could work on it.  My car`s engine got rebuilt at home, under the front porch. Do the usual checks:  Oil leaks, status of the carburetor (engine idling properly and does not hesitate under load), gear change, cooling system, etc… Consumables like suspension parts, engine mounts, drive belts, etc… are not hard to find. In fact, most spares are not hard to find.

With a car of this vintage, rust and bodywork will be your worst enemy. Apart from being a 32 year old car, there`s nothing specifically wrong with this model. But as other`s have pointed out, you might have to put on a bit of effort (financially, research, minor repairs, etc.. ) to make an older car properly reliable (regardless of the model/brand)

 

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I am not sure about you are specifying Mazda 323 , 4th generation  or 5th generation. (Transition year was 1985 between two generations)

My father used a brand new imported Mazda 323 as his official vehicle when he was working at NHDA.

NHDA purchased 6 or 7 units of Mazda 323 (Sedan) 5th generation from Carmart (14 Sri 76xx) in 1987 February.

Lovely cars came with different metallic colours. Can remember all cars were 4 forward gears (hope 1.3L variant) except white coloured unit was 5 forward gears (hope 1.5L variant). Funny thing was it came with only Right side mirror and additionally installed the left side mirror by Carmart within very first week. No A/C. Radio cassette, dash board brightness adjustable, rear wiper, metal center caps on wheels, owners manual and also provided a small paint pot for touch-ups. Still remember how I enjoyed brand new smell of  the car ; 14 Sri 7665 as a 10 years old child.

Few years ago I was surprised to see an advertisement on AL classifieds , such unit of 323 up for sale. Very low mileage about 50K and interior and exterior was in brand new conditions. It also had two keys with owners manual and as it was single owner car.

It is hard, but do search and you can find a better maintained unit. These cars have very simple technology and never gave any trouble those days.

And I also see many 323 hatchback units are on roads and seems some how they manage spares as well even after 30 years.

    

Edited by Sampath Gunasekera
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Thanks so much all for your helpful answers. IRage, thanks for the welcome. You mention common cars. Do you have any that come to mind as likely to be reliable and have readily available parts? Currently on market I see some 323s, a 82 corolla SE, Nissan B11s (which I hear spares are hard to find for) and plenty of 80-85 lancers. I also see some diesel vans, but hear one should stay away from diesel if on a budget.

I'll be having a look at a 323 in a couple days.

Relatedly, if I am to save some cash for repair costs from the get go, I'd need to lease the vehicle. Does anyone have a recommendation? CDB would be my go to. 

 

Thanks again.

 

 

 

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1. See if you can get a personal loan instead of a lease. Never lease a vehicle, unless its a vehicle that generates you an income

2. If you are planning to buy a 30-40 year old car, only vehicles I would personally trust are Mazda Familia (Ford Laser), Lancer Box, Toyota KE72 wagon, VW Beetle. Despite the Toyota name tag, AE-80 series Toyotas have very little spares in SL. Despite being newer, C-11, C-12 series Lancers have a spares problem too (however, Lancer Box and older models have plenty of spares).

 

 

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