The Mazda 1300 is part of the second-generation Familia line, a series of familiar cars manufactured by the Japanese carmaker and sold around the world. It was quite a hit in other markets, and it came to be sold under various names. Back home in Japan, it was most popularly known as the Mazda Familia. In the North American market, the small car was marketed as the Protégé and, more popularly, the 323. The car was manufactured for four decades from 1963 to 2003, until it was replaced by the Axela and Mazda3 line.
Apart from the 1300, this small car was also sold as the Mazda 800, 1000, and 1200. The 323 name was used in the US first, after which it was introduced in Europe as well. South Africa and Colombia models received the completely unique names of Etude and Allegro, respectively. The car was even rebranded and sold by Ford as the Meteor and Laser across Asia, Latin America, and Oceania. From 1991, it was sold as the Mercury Tracer and Ford Escort in the North American market.
The Familia was introduced to the entire world with Mazda’s plan to grow globally as the Japanese economy grew. To do this, the company designed the R360 in 1960 as a very cheap Kei car and planned to introduce larger and costlier cars over time as they became more affordable to the Japanese. As a result, Mazda introduced the Mazda 700 concept at the 1961 Tokyo Motor Show. This was the first generation, which used a pushrod 987cc engine in its sedans. In 1967, the second generation was launched with the same engine, and it was marketed as the Mazda 1300 here.
The Mazda 1300 is a pretty old car and part of a series that had too many names to count. Nevertheless, there is no denying that this was one of the most affordable cars during the 1960s and 1970s. Traditionally, Mazda is known to make reliable, inexpensive, small cars, and the 1300 fits the bill.
Although introduced in 1967, the second generation had the same 1.0L engine that delivered 37kW of power and 76Nm of torque. A year later in 1968, a new 1.2L engine was introduced that delivered 43kW of power and 127Nm of torque. The Mazda 1300, as most people know it, came about in 1970, and its name is attributed to its 1.3L, two-barrel engine under the bonnet that delivered 51kW of power and 91Nm of torque. This was the largest and most powerful engine available during the second generation from 1967 to 1977.
The Mazda 1300 was available as a sedan, coupe, two-door ute, and two-door wagon. The sedan and coupe versions got a few updates in 1973, but the rest remained unchanged for the entirety of their availability. In fact, the Mazda 1300 ute and wagon were sold all the way until 1978, by which time the model was replaced by the next generation Familia with an all-new name. Towards the end, the Mazda 1300 ute was available in a long-wheelbase version with a revised 1.3L TC engine that delivered 63kW. During its production run, the car was known for being a good ride with acceptable handling and a well-laid out interior. Its most popular feature was its mileage, with over 30km/L reported for most models.
For a small car, the Mazda 1300 was always very roomy on the inside, which was one of its biggest advantages. Over time, an increasing number of models offered by Mazda meant that the 1300 was demoted in importance. During its final years, the car was mostly available as a two-door hatchback with minimal power and convenience. However, those who want reliability, class-topping space, and utility can still go for the Mazda 1300 sedans and hatchbacks.
The Mazda 1300 had almost the same standard and optional kit as its predecessors, the 800, 1000, and 1200. It had slightly better brakes but retained the same body styles as they did. Inside, the car was only sparsely equipped in keeping with its small car design. The features available differed a little over the years; apart from the basic features, the car did get options like cloth upholstery. All models got the same 1.3L engine that was combined with a 4-speed manual transmission standard and a 2-speed automatic as an option. During its 7 years of production and its short time available, the Mazda 1300 underwent virtually no changes.
The Mazda 1300 did have competition from other Japanese small cars. There were also American competitors, namely the Ford Laser and Ford Meteor. They used the Familia as the basis for their designs. With the Ford name as their starting point, they quickly caught on with Familia’s audience. They also included sedan and hatchback models with 4WD, 1.8L engines, and options for either a 5-speed manual transmission or a 4-speed automatic transmission.
However, the Familia’s good design and proven reliability over the decades have made it a very good option. On the downside, the 51kW engine is not that peppy, and the car lacks some features that most people take for granted in modern cars. Considering that this is a car from the 1970s, it comes as no surprise to see the car lacking such features, but most people looking for vintage cars like this should expect to accept these deficiencies. For those looking for a frugal, low-cost hatchback, sedan, or ute that is durable and comes with a nice piece of history, the Mazda 1300 is a good choice.