Junkyard Gem: 1990 Mazda 929 S

Mazda's American-market version of the Luce, now mostly forgotten.

  • Image Credit: Murilee Martin
In the late 1980s, Toyota, Nissan, and Honda were cleaning up in the American market with the Cressida, Maxima, and Legend, respectively. Mazda wanted some of those dollars, so the HC-series Mazda Luce was modified for the US market and sold here as the 929. It had rear-wheel drive, a powerful V6 engine, and lots of luxury features, but not many were sold. Here's a rare '90 that I spotted in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard.

1990 Mazda 929 in California self-service wrecking yard

In 1990, the sporty 929S version got 190 horsepower from its DOHC 3.0-liter V6. Unfortunately for Mazda, American buyers associated the marque with sensible econoboxes and screaming rotary engines, not luxury machinery, at the time.

1990 Mazda 929 in California self-service wrecking yard

For the 1990 model year, American-market cars were required to have either a driver's-side airbag or automatic seat belts. The 929 had the automatic belts, the less said about the better.

The Luce-based 929 became the Sentia-based 929 for the 1992 model year. Meanwhile, the new luxury brands from Honda, Nissan, and Toyota were kicking the crap out of 929 sales; Mazda had planned to launch the Amati brand in the United States, but didn't have the resources to follow through. The last 929s were sold in the United States for the 1995 model year.

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