Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Navajo shows just what close corporate buddies Mazda and Ford once were. Let’s see what this remarkably clean Mazda-in-name-only might just be worth.
The responses to yesterday’s 1999 BMW 323ci convertible proved to be one of those odd instances when the comments didn’t match the voting results. In the former, many of you chimed in that — low mileage notwithstanding — just by specs alone the car wasn’t worth its $12,900 asking. In the vote, however, the drop-top Bimmer won a sizable 59 percent Nice Price win. Go figure.
Okay, I have another conundrum for you today. I want you all to gather round, shorter folks in front, taller folks in the back. Okay, good. Now, by show of hands — and I want you to be honest here — how many of you actually know that Mazda once sold a thinly-veiled version of the two-door Ford Explorer? Yeah, I thought so. The funny thing is, all kinds of interesting history surrounds this odd badge-engineered truck.
It all starts out way back to the 1970s when Japanese automakers were first hitting their stride in the American market. They did so by offering well-built, fuel-efficient cars and small trucks, a concept that had seemingly eluded their American competitors.
As the American automakers saw their market share whittled down by these imported interlopers, they decided that the only action was to import their own small cars and trucks. That’s how we got a slew of minitrucks. Ford gave us the Courier, which was a re-badged Mazda; Chevy the LUV, which started life as an Isuzu; and Dodge a Ram 50 that was really a Mitsubishi.
These trucks went through a couple of generations each until the American manufacturers realized that they could build their own trucks here in the States, cutting out all that cross-pacific travel time and fluctuating exchange rates. The Chicken Tax, which, starting in 1964 levied a 25 percent tariff on light-duty trucks played a big role in this decision. Whatever the impetus, Ford replaced the imported Courier with the domestically-produced Ranger in 1983. That tuck not only became a solid seller but served as the basis for a number of later Ford models including the wildly successful Explorer SUV. In a turn-about-is-fair-play move, Mazda started selling under its own brand re-badged versions of the American-made Ranger pickup and, in two-door-only form, the Explorer.
This 1994 Mazda Navajo LX is an example of that cross-pollination and what a fine example it seems to be. The truck comes with a little over 100,000 miles on the clock, but aside from some sun-fade on a few of the trim pieces, it looks no worse for wear from those miles.
The teal green paint pops appropriately and is accented by black plastic trim and similarly painted bumpers. These are key differentiators for the Navajo, as are its black slotted grille and red block tail lamps. The window line on the two-door Explorer and its Navajo cousin is interesting in that it mimics that of the European Ford Sierra XR4 with its three-light profile. That doesn’t have any point of reference with the Mazda, but it’s a fun fact for Ford fans, nonetheless.
Inside, there’s little to differentiate this Mazda from its Ford factory-mate other than a Mazda badge on the Ford steering wheel. That wheel sits in a well-equipped and super clean interior. A modern stereo has been fitted here, but otherwise, it’s a throw-back to the Clinton era. The seller touts the model’s sunroof and the fact that it still has its factory-supplied jack and gloves.
This is a four-wheel-drive truck with the power for those four wheels coming from a four-liter edition of Ford’s long-serving Cologne V6. That old-school OHV six does have fuel injection here and that helps it make 160 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque. Matched to that is a 4R55E four-speed automatic with column shift. You could also get a five-speed stick in the Navajo, just not in this one.
Per the ad, this one has a Flowmaster exhaust as well as a new battery and tires, and the seller claims it all to be in “perfect running condition too.” The title is clean and the truck is positioned as being “like new” in its ad. Unlike that Jag we considered on Monday, this California-licensed truck also appears to wear current tags.
That seller also offers the somewhat comical notation that the truck “has been reposted at a higher price due to the amount of offers I have been getting.” Okay, whatever. The current asking price is $7,800 and it’s now incumbent upon you to weigh in and let us know your thoughts on whether or not that’s a deal.
What do you say, is this rare and seemingly well-maintained Mazda worth that $7,800 asking? Or, is this a time capsule whose time hasn’t come?
H/T to RevUnlimiter for the hookup!
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