Unexceptional Classics

Unexceptional classifieds: Mazda 323F

by James Mills
27 August 2021 2 min read
Unexceptional classifieds: Mazda 323F
Photos: Overbrook

Just as you thought you were going to drown in a sea of blandness during the late Eighties, with Jason Donovan and The Bangles dominating every radio station’s playlist, and the roads and showrooms filled with cars that rarely dared to differ, salvation arrived.

The kids went wild for Black Box and Jive Bunny and the Mixmasters, while Mazda introduced the latest version of the 323 and along with it the idea of a four-door coupé.

How much is your car to insure? Find out in four easy steps.
Get a quote

It was novel to say the least. And brave, too. Yet line up a 323F alongside a contemporary Ford Escort and it’s little old Mazda’s family hatch that has stood the test of time. Its compact frontal area, coupé-like roofline and windows and the kammback tail have a modern simplicity to them; pull out the petrol engine and put a battery pack and an electric motor or two under there and it could almost pass for a modern-day electric car. Was this the unseen influence for Ian Callum and team when Jaguar was developing the i-Pace?

At the top of the range, there was even a compact, 2-litre V6 engine than span as smoothly as a sewing machine (I know, because I tested them back in the day) and the car even found its way into the British Touring Car Championship, with Matt Neal at the wheel.

You won’t find Neal has been behind the wheel of this week’s Unexceptional Classified spot. And what a spot it is. Advertised on eBay for the sum of £3950, by car dealer Overbrook, this 1998 323F 1.5 Imola Edition could have been driven out of the pages of the period brochure and its corporate blue-and-black studio scene.

It has covered just 56,000 miles, which is less than 2500 a year – just the right sort of distance to keep everything working the way it should. Its MOT history is all present and correct, with annual inspections and no gaps during its (digital) past, and recent work has included attending to wear and tear on the suspension components, drive shafts and tyres.

And would you just look at the condition of the interior? The leather seats still have a sheen, the blue carpet is unblemished and the plastic – of which there’s plenty – is unweathered. Even the engine bay and 1.5-litre block looks pleasingly free from rust and oil in the usual hotspots for a car of this age.

So, if you are after an unexceptional classic which is something of a talking point and more than welcome at the Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional, you know what to do…

Read more

Unexceptional Classifieds: Renault Laguna RT
Retro Rewind: Mazda MX-5 1.8i vs MX-5 R-Sport
Our Classics: 1994 Mazda RX-7

You may also like

Unexceptional classifieds: Mazda 323 1.5 GLX estate
Unexceptional classifieds: Mazda 323 1.5 GLX estate
1995 Mazda MX-3
Unexceptional Classifieds: Mazda MX-3 1.6i
New Honda Prelude Arrives in UK Next Year
New Honda Prelude Arrives in UK Next Year
A story about

Your biweekly dose of car news from Hagerty in your inbox


  • Chris C says:

    £3950 sounds a bit strong. Now try and find one of the original 1977-on RWD 323 Familia series – sold very well at the time but rusted away despite being claimed to be able to withstand a Siberian salt mine…

  • Kyle says:

    I actually daily drive one of these, managed to get the 1.8 Executive model (£500 off marketplace), surprisingly fast and because its got the MX5 engine in there, its very easy to turbo…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More on this topic
Hagerty Newsletter
Get your weekly dose of car news from Hagerty UK in your inbox

Thanks for signing up!

Your request will be handled as soon as possible