A Brief Look at the Mazda GLC
The History and Evolution of the Mazda GLC
Mazda is one of the fastest-growing automakers in the world today, with a rich legacy dating back to its founding in 1920 as Toyo Cork Kogyo Co., Ltd. in Japan. By 1931, the company shifted its focus to manufacturing three-wheel trucks, and in 1960, they produced their first passenger car – the R360. Today, the company is known for its versatile line of cars, from the Mazda3 and Mazda6 sedans to the CX-5 and CX-9 SUVs. But in the 1970s and 1980s, Mazda introduced a compact car that would become an instant classic – the GLC.
First Generation (1977-1980): The “Great Little Car”
The Mazda GLC, short for “Great Little Car,” was introduced to the North American market in 1977, and it became an instant hit among car enthusiasts and critics alike. The first-generation Mazda GLC was available as a four-door sedan, five-door wagon, and two-door hatchback. The GLC sedan had a 2+2 seating arrangement, while the hatchback and wagon could accommodate up to five passengers.
Under the hood of the first-generation GLC was a 1.4-liter engine that produced 65 horsepower. The car had a four-speed manual transmission, but buyers could also opt for a three-speed automatic. The GLC boasted a fuel economy of 26 miles per gallon in the city and 34 on the highway – impressive numbers for its time.
One notable feature of the first-generation GLC was its fuel-efficient rotary engine, which Mazda had been developing since the 1960s. However, due to concerns about the engine’s durability and reliability, Mazda decided not to offer the rotary engine in the GLC after the first few years of production.
Second Generation (1981-1985): The “Great Little Car” Gets a Facelift
In 1981, Mazda introduced the second-generation GLC, which featured a facelift that made the car look more modern and stylish. The second-gen GLC was available as a hatchback, wagon, and sedan, and it was powered by a more powerful 1.5-liter engine that produced 70 horsepower.
The GLC saw some notable upgrades in the second generation, including the addition of front disc brakes, power steering, and a more advanced suspension system. The car also had a redesigned dashboard and instrument cluster, as well as a new stereo system.
One notable variation of the second-generation GLC was the GLC Sport, a special edition of the hatchback that featured sporty styling cues and upgraded performance features, including a five-speed manual transmission, a sport-tuned suspension system, and a more powerful engine that produced 85 horsepower.
Third Generation (1986-1989): The GLC Becomes the 323
In 1986, Mazda decided to rebrand the GLC as the Mazda 323, a move that reflected the company’s desire to consolidate its various nameplates under one unified brand. The third-generation 323 was available as a hatchback, sedan, and wagon, and it was powered by a range of engines that produced between 68 and 110 horsepower.
The third-generation 323 saw some notable upgrades over its predecessors, including a more aerodynamic design, improved fuel efficiency, and new safety features like anti-lock brakes and airbags. The 323 also featured a new multi-link rear suspension system that improved handling and ride comfort.
One notable variation of the third-generation 323 was the 323 GT – a high-performance version of the hatchback that featured a turbocharged engine that produced 132 horsepower. The 323 GT was also equipped with upgraded brakes, suspension, and styling features that made it stand out from the rest of the 323 lineup.
Fourth Generation (1990-1994): The 323 Gets a Refresh
The fourth generation of the 323, which was introduced in 1990, saw a refresh that made the car look more sophisticated and modern. The fourth-gen 323 was available as a sedan, hatchback, and wagon, and it was powered by a range of engines that produced between 73 and 135 horsepower.
The fourth-generation 323 also saw some significant upgrades in terms of safety and technology, including the addition of a driver’s side airbag, an anti-theft system, and power door locks and windows. The car also had a new variable valve timing system that improved engine performance and fuel efficiency.
One notable variation of the fourth-generation 323 was the 323 GTX – a high-performance version of the hatchback that featured a turbocharged engine that produced 138 horsepower. The 323 GTX was also equipped with all-wheel drive, which made it a popular choice among car enthusiasts who wanted a sporty car with exceptional handling and performance.
Fifth Generation (1994-1998): The Last GLC
The fifth and final generation of the GLC/323 was introduced in 1994, and it saw some significant changes compared to its predecessors. The car was available as a sedan, hatchback, and wagon, and it was powered by a range of engines that produced between 88 and 129 horsepower.
The fifth-generation 323 also saw some significant upgrades in terms of safety and technology, including the addition of dual airbags, anti-lock brakes, and a new audio system. The car also had a new suspension system that improved ride comfort and handling.
One notable variation of the fifth-generation 323 was the 323 Protege – a sporty version of the sedan that featured a more powerful engine, a sport-tuned suspension, and a sleek, aerodynamic design. The 323 Protege was a popular choice among car enthusiasts who wanted a sporty and stylish car with exceptional performance.
The End of an Era
The Mazda GLC may not be as well known as other legendary cars like the Mazda RX-7 or the Mazda Miata, but it played a significant role in Mazda’s history and legacy. The GLC/323 was a versatile and dependable car that offered exceptional value and performance, and it helped establish Mazda as a serious player in the compact car market.
Today, the Mazda3 has taken over as Mazda’s flagship compact car, but the GLC/323 remains a fondly remembered classic that helped establish the Mazda brand and cement its reputation for quality and innovation.