Friday, 31 August 2018



..actually, no, wait - s'quite possibly rarer if nothing else!

A shining example of early-eighties, front-driving Japanese commuter vanilla; spotted in-the-tin at the All Japanese Car and Bike Show at Canberra's Exhibition Park last weekend.
Something worth waving the camera over (despite the confused looks from most, I'm sure..) with these things being so ridiculously uncommon on Australia's roads. I just don't see them.
That's including a solid decade of somewhat religiously-regular trips to Melbourne's half-a-dozen self serve wreckers, Toyota Car Club Victoria meets, Japanese car events, and what's now six years of eyes-peeled for the specifically-eighties-machinery to share here; no, I'm not exactly tripping over these.

Small tangent here for a second.

I did actually come across one of these at a wreckers in Melbourne back in January. Now obviously when I say "I've got my eyes peeled for one of these", I'm waiting for an original and complete car in particular... which this.. err.. appears to be? Uhh.. I can't clearly remember why I didn't do a full photo-set of this, but a missed opportunity for sure. I did have a couple mates with me there at the time... so yeah, let's just blame them, okay?

All there, all original and only 117,000km (73,000mi).. we get of course!

AM/FM/Cassette unit - the same part you'd find in an Australian HiLux/4Runner SR-5.

..and hey, I've got to have a spare right..?

But enough of that; let's get back to the example at hand:
..and since I've gone about this all arse-backwards, it's also about time I properly introduce what the hell I'm talking about here.

So what are we looking at exactly? And other than the similarly stunning bodywork, what the hell has this to do with an Lamborghini Huracán?!

It's a 1982- *V10 Toyota Camry; for all intents and purposes, the first generation of one the most popular mid-sized cars to ever come out of Japan.
Arrival onto the Australian market was early 1983; fully imported, well equipped, and Liftback-only; they sat above the Corona and below the Cressida with pricing that kicked off at a shade under $15000 - enough to otherwise get yourself anything from the sporty A60 Celica to a 4X4 HiLux/Tercel/Landcruiser! Obviously popular enough to later justify Australian production of the wildly-successful V20 second-generation car, but surely still numbers low enough to explain why I don't bloody well see any!

A lovely crochet blanket cargo-cover, cover.
Speaking of which, power for all Australian SV11 Camrys - all 77kW of it - came from the 2S-EL four-cylinder. Early days for the long-running and very-Camry Toyota 'S' engines, here in basic single-cam form (yet still 2000cc and EFI-equipped..).


The original 13x5J alloys that so busily dragged everything along. Interesting to note the similarities to the 1984- AW11's three-spoke alloys...

..well we're done; this Camry's doing fine - unlike the sadly apparently-tidy one I spotted at the wreckers earlier this year, this one's still on the road..!
Not only that, this 130,000km (<81,000mi) could be yours for only $2800 Australian Dollars. As is so often the case, you couldn't make a tired one this nice for many multiples of that number - a truly ridiculous understatement still - and that's if you could find one at all!

Sunday, 26 August 2018

..Australia, 1985, and the more familiar 'sporty' Familia: the 323 SS reality.

It may be a far cry from Japan-1985's top-tier FULL TIME 4WD 1600 DOHC TURBO GT-X Familia; but the sportiest of Australia's early fifth-generation Familias - badged locally as the 323 - is honestly no less special to see. These are few and very far between.

So below, a bodgy phone-photoset of a neat enough example I stumbled upon at the wreckers almost two years ago now; as always kicking off with a little recycled Instagram-postery from the time:
"...then minus colour altogether, in this silver-on-grey 1986 Mazda 323 SS 3dr. The SS' sporting pretensions mean we have a completely different - yet equally interesting - steering wheel, and ooh... electronically adjustable dampers! Pardon the rubbish; unlike the tidy red Commodore in this morning's post, It was at PickaPart I spotted this poor old Familia a couple weekends ago... #mazda #mazda323 #mazda323ss #323ss #mazdafamilia #bffamilia #fordlaser #japanesenostalgiccar #1986"

"Normal!? Pfff! *clicks 'Sport', before calmy stepping into the 1986 Mazda 323 SS hatch and closing the door*. Two hands on the wheel. Ready. "Waaaaaahhhhhh... braaaaahhhhhhhh...." ..the wildy-inaccurate sounds of the Mazda's undersquare B6F playing toward its pedestrian 6000rpm redline, echo amongst its permanently-parked neighbours. Hands fly around the wheel... the bolsters on the corduroy and dark grey velour bucket seat get a brief-yet-exciting workout. Such responsiveness. So taut. Track ready. ...But no, nope... not this little Mazda. Those adjustable dampers are long gone, and the whole car now hovers off the ground on stacks of steel wheels. Locked-in between the strange combination of Mk3 Golf and Suzuki Liana; she's done.... #robertdowneyjr #mazda #mazda323 #mazda323ss #323ss #323gtx #bf323 #mazdafamilia #bffamilia #fordlaser #electronicadjustabledampers #japanesenostalgiccar #1986"

"...because a high-speed four-wheel brake lockup would increase anyone's heartrate.
1987 advert for the Mazda's higher-specced, Ford-badged equivalent: the twin-cam B6T Ford Laser TX3 Turbo. #fordlaser #lasertx3 #tx3 #tx3turbo #turbo #kelaser #b6t #mazdab6 #photoshopskids #mazda323 #mazda323ss #323ss #323gtx #bf323 #mazdafamilia #bffamilia #japanesenostalgiccar #1987"

So here we are. Near twenty-thousand late-1985/1986 Australian dollary-doos of the sportiest of Mazda Thrice Twice Thrice.
Much of the appearance of its home-market big brother, but instead here motivated by a single-cam 8V B6 1600cc four, an auto trans and front-wheel-drive only. Australia wouldn't see factory boosted versions until an update in late 1987..

Importantly the double-spoiler setup remained regardless. Beautifully integrated and very eighties..

Subtle detailing on the upper surface of the lower spoiler.

Original Penfold Mazda dealer sticker. It sadly appears to have been a well-loved car that experienced a rapid decline.. 

232,000km, but heading into a decade of quality Mazdas (and Japanese cars in general). It has held up well.

Minimalist wiper controls on the dash.

...and ohhh... symmetry: the matching headlamp and cruise controls to the right of the wheel.

Below, the adjustable damper controls as joked about in the Instergrems post above.

Ignoring the walking-stick-turned-auto-shifter protruding from the console, that seems a nice place to be. Well, a centre armrest wouldn't have hurt..

..and manual crank windows are surprising for a high-specced Japanese car of this era.

..particularly in seeing the large electric sunroof.

I do like the fabric/vinyl combination treatment here. Looks great. Interesting to note the completely different front and rear seats to the previous blogpost's Familia GT-X.

Again, the single-cam B6 non-turbo four... and you know, a spare rear-view mirror.

It'd seem the adjustable shocks didn't quite survive the three decades since. I certainly can't say I'm surprised..

Done (and unintentional spotto four-wheel discs!)

As mentioned above, it was almost two years ago now that I came across this car at the wreckers - late 2016. Whatever this scrap metal became is probably already in landfill. Urgh. Yet again I'm glad I got a chance to give a reasonably original example a look-over before it was too late..

Twin-Cam Turbo and Four Wheel Drive; Japan, 1985, and the unfamiliarly high-performance Familia.

New found technology and performance for the Mazda's Corolla/Civic-sized fighter in the mid-eighties. More cams, more driven wheels; the then top-tier of the fifth-generation (BF, 1985-) Mazda Familia, this one currently for sale at a dealer in Shizuoka, Japan..

1985 BFMR Mazda Familia FULL TIME 4WD 1600 DOHC TURBO GT-X.
GT-X making this one as loaded as could be at launch. As good as it got, and a solid notch above the single-cam-jam front-driver equivalent we were offered in Australia at the time.

Thirty-three years later is not too late for this one though, right? Well, that'd be if someone was willing to pony up the one-million-yen-plus asking price before shipping... for a 323. Screaming value for what's a classic performance Mazda, but perhaps just a little strong for Australia's 323/Laser market just yet!

Largely stock save for a few period bits and bobs. Those choice little directional alloys wouldn't have to go anywhere..

..while the attractive original wheel'll likely be in the boot. That'd go back on quick-smart!

Prelude-ey shape on those front chairs...

Taking priority position over the headunit set below. DIN-sized Center Diff Lock and suspension height controller. They're fantastic.

..wait.. height control? Not just 80s-high-tech adjustable dampers? I'm listening...

~65,000km / 40,000mi.

It's a shame so few kays have taken such a toll on the original mats. They'd look brilliant with the three decades of red ink lost, carefully returned..

Large electric sunroof with ventilation grille. I suppose that means you can have it on tilt with the shade closed? Live dangerously.

All tidy, all there.. is the Mazda B6T turbo (TURBO!) four:
Good for a whisker over 100kW (140PS) and a decent chunk of torque for a 1600cc unit. 
The wide cam cover, wrinkle black paint, machined highlights and red lettering makes this thing a pretty unit, even if nothing else. It's a motor I'd interestingly find locally most easily in a Ford Capri - the source of the cam cover I salvaged and refinished for a blogpost 18months ago:

No rush for this Familia though it seems. Talk about backing up that odometer eh..!

Done. Cool thing. Certainly always nice to see something different...