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There have been many incredible cars to come and go throughout history, and many of them have become immortalized. Tragically, some have also fallen through the cracks, like the Mazda 323 GTX. It was an awesome little rally car that should never be forgotten, but most people don’t even know about the car that helped inspire other vehicles like the Subaru WRX and had similar specs to the Volkswagen Golf GTI.

What is the Mazda 323 GTX?

The Mazda 323 wasn’t the most gorgeous vehicle to ever be built. It has a boxy shape, and there aren’t any smooth curves to refine it. Despite this, Road and Track reports it was a trendy vehicle back in the 1980s.

How much horsepower does a Mazda 323 GTX have?

Many car buyers flocked to the Mazda 323 GTX because it was a rally-bred homologation special equipped with a 132-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. It was incredibly affordable, and Mazda also had the foresight to make it all-wheel drive, which helped increase the appeal.

Hagerty reports that owners soon learned they could add 50 hp with a few adjustments. By increasing the airflow and boost, as well as tuning the ECU, they could boost the power and speed.

How fast is the 323 GTX?

Mazda wanted to make a name for itself by entering rallies, and the 323 GTX was its first real success. It could go from 0 to 60 mph in less than 8 seconds. While this may not sound fast when you consider many vehicles now can do it in just 3 seconds, 40 years ago, this was an impressive number. 

In fact, Mazda was able to win the Rally Sweden in the year 1987 with the 323 GTX. The Japanese automaker entered the 323 GTX in other rallies, but sadly, it never took first place again. However, it did manage to take second place twice, which is more than respectable.

Jeff Zurschmeide spent years driving the Mazda 323 GTX. In an interview with Hagerty, he said, “It’s an absolute hoot to drive. We had a street GTX and a rally GTX, but since we were in a Production AWD class we just had exhaust mods, a cold air intake, and a built suspension. The stock drivetrain doesn’t give you a lot of torque, but once boost builds, it’s easy to keep speeds up. We would often match the stage times of more powerful cars of the era because the short wheelbase was so eager to turn – unless we had to deal with long, uphill runs.”

How many Mazda 323 GTX models were made?

Tragically, very few of these vehicles were ever made. Mazda only sold the 323 GTX from 1988 to 1989 for $13,000. During this time, Mazda sold only 1,243 units. 

The reason Mazda didn’t offer it for longer was due to significant issues with the transmission. It was expensive to repair, which didn’t help matters. The brake rotors were another major issue that frustrated even the most devout Mazda 323 GTX enthusiasts.

If you’re interested in finding a Mazda 323 GTX of your own, good luck. Thanks to the expensive repairs, many were left to rot and are now probably little more than rust. Those that do exist are most likely in a state of disrepair or unsuitable for long drives. Before purchasing, make sure you have a mechanic familiar with this generation of cars take a long, hard look at the transmission. It’s still possible to find one in decent shape for around $3,000–$9,800, so happy hunting.