Also known as the Mazda Familia or Mazda Protégé, the Mazda 323 was a car that has been around since the 60s. This small family car has been sold around the globe from 1963 to 2003. Here’s a quick look at the changes and transformations of the 323 through the years.
First generation: 1963-1968
The Mazda 323 was initially released as the Mazda Familia in Japan in 1963 and it was styled by Giogetto Giugiaro. Upon initial release, the Familia was sold as a two-door wagon that was powered by a 782 cc SA 4-stroke aluminum I4 engine.
Second generation: 1967-1977
In 1967, a new version of the Familia was introduced to the public. It was powered by a 987 cc engine and it was sold as the Mazda 1000 in several markets. Later, this model evolved into the Mazda 1200 when it received an engine upgrade—a new 1169 cc I4 engine. The 1200 was sold in the United States in 1971 and 1973 along the Mazda R100 coupe.
Third generation: 1977-1980
The third generation of the Familia was known as the Familia AP. But around the world, this model was better known as the Mazda 323. This generation of Familia was the debut of the 323 nameplate. This model was a rear-wheel drive subcompact and it was introduced to the market in 1977 to replace the Grand Familia. It was made available as a 3-door or 5-door hatchback and station wagon, and it was powered by either of the following: 985 cc PC, 1,272 cc TC, or 1,415 cc UC engine.
Fourth generation: 1980-1984
The fourth generation of Mazda 323s was released in 1980 with very minor changes. That same year, the 323 was hailed Car of the Year by Wheels magazine. The model, however, received a makeover after one year in production. In America, the 323 was also known as the Great Little Car (GLC) and it was offered with a 1.5 L twin-barrel engine.
Fifth generation: 1985-1989
In 1985, the fifth generation of Mazda 323 was introduced to the market. This model was packed with new features and upgrades that weren’t present in previous generations. This generation also marked the introduction of a 323 that was powered by a turbocharged DOHC engine. Also, a convertible body was made available in 1986.
Sixth generation: 1989-1994
The sixth generation of 323s was available as 3-door hatchbacks, 5-door fastbacks, and 4-door sedans. The 5-door version was also released as the Familia/323 Astina.
Seventh generation: 1994-1998
The front-wheel drive seventh generation of the 323 was released in 1994. In North America, the sedan version of the 323 became known as the Mazda Protégé. This generation received a new and bolder design in 1996, marking a drastic change in the 323s overall look.
Eighth generation: 1998-2003
The last generation of the 323 was released to the market in 1998. Production lasted until 2003 and it was replaced by the Mazda 3 the following year.