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Saturday, September 12, 2015

This Rare Mazda is Essentially a Four-Door RX-7



Picture this for a moment. It’s the 1980s, you’re living in Japan, and you’re buying a new car. You desperately want to own a rotary-powered Mazda RX-7, but with space for only one auto, factors like comfort and seating for five preclude you from that vehicle choice. 
Expectedly, you’re bummed…but only for a moment, because then you remember this head-scratcher of a car exists.

This is a 1986 Mazda Luce Royal Classic. Admittedly, it’s rather large, however it abides by the cardinal rule of the Mazda RX-7. It packs a high-revving Wankel engine and spins all that power to the rear wheels…and in sumptuous ‘80s luxury. This Japanese domestic market marvel recently appeared on eBay, and it could very well be the only one in North America.


Despite the oddity of this four-door Wankel luxury sedan, it is cut from a familiar cloth. Mazda offered the Luce (pronounced “lew-che”) in the U.S. as the 929 sedan, beginning with the 1988 model year. The Wankel engine version was not available on these shores.

 Instead, a 3.0-liter V6 powered the 3,400 pound car, and generated 158 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque. Zero to 60 happened in around 10 seconds, fed through a four-speed auto or five-speed manual.

The upmarket “Royal Classic” could do better. It brandished the legendary 1.3-liter 13B engine in turbocharged form, which could send 185 horsepower to the rear wheels. It also fitted electronically adjustable suspension, a “cool box” for your chilled beverages, and an air purification system. This Luce even dons burgundy velour upholstery and carpets. So perfect, so ‘80s.


It isn’t without its aftermarket oddities, however. Either before or after this Mazda Luce crossed the Pacific Ocean, it was outfitted with a Trust turbocharger kit, which included a new intercooler, air intake, blow-off valve, and exhaust.

 A Mazdaspeed clutch, limited-slip differential, and steering wheel followed as well, as did Ohlins shocks, Panamax Sport G7 wheels, and a VeilSide racing seat with Sabelt harnesses.

The end result is a four-door super sedan that sends a claimed 305 horsepower to the wheels at 12 psi of boost. Odd? Extremely. Nevertheless, there’s something so grin-worthy about the Mazda Luce Royal Classic.