The Mazda 929 is a luxury sedan that has been forgotten by many, but not by the junkyard where it remains. Between 1988 and 1995, the Mazda 929 was sold in the United States as the export version of the Mazda Luce. It was one of only two big, rear-wheel-drive Japanese luxury sedans sold in the US during this time, with the other being the Toyota Cressida. While the Cressida is well-known, the 929 has faded from memory.
Mazda had plans to sell the 929 and later the Millenia as part of its Amati luxury brand in North America. However, the Japanese asset price bubble burst in 1991, and Mazda had to abandon its ambitious plans for Amati due to economic stagnation. As a result, the 929 remained a Mazda, and North Americans continued to view Mazda as a maker of low-priced econoboxes and weird Wankel-engined mutants.
Despite this, the Mazda 929 was both swanky and powerful. It had a 3.0-liter V6 engine with either SOHC or DOHC design, driving the rear wheels. The 929 S had the DOHC engine and its 190 horsepower, which was the same as the horsepower rating of the 1990 Cressida’s straight-six. However, its 191 pound-feet of torque beat the Cressida by six pound-feet. The 1990 Infiniti Q45 and Lexus LS 400 had hairy V8 engines that blew away the 929 S (with 278 and 250 horsepower, respectively), but those cars were far more expensive than their Mazda rival.
The Mazda 929 was also a good 700 pounds lighter than those behemoths, making it a lot quicker in a stoplight race. It was available with a five-speed manual transmission, although it is rare to find one. This car has a four-speed automatic and has just 177,057 miles total.
The MSRP on the 1990 929 S was $24,800, which comes to about $58,756 in 2023 dollars. Meanwhile, a new Q45 cost $38,000 ($90,030 today) while a new LS 400 was $36,000 ($85,291 now). The 1990 Toyota Cressida was a steal at $21,498 ($50,933 after inflation).
The Mazda 929 was marketed in Japan as the “Big Personal” Luce. James Garner was the 929’s spokesman.
In conclusion, while the Mazda 929 may have been forgotten by many, it remains a gem in the junkyard. It was a powerful and swanky luxury sedan that was lighter and more affordable than its V8-powered rivals. While it may not have caught on with Amati badges, it is still a car worth remembering.