Mazda Luce First Generation
|Also called||Luce 1500/1800/R130 Mazda 1500 Mazda 1800|
|Production||1966–1972 (1500) 1968–1973 (1800) 1969–1972 (R130) R130: <1,000 built|
|Body style||2-door coupé 4-door sedan 5-door station wagon|
|Engine||1.5 L UB I4 (1500) 1.8 L VB I4 (1800) 1.3 L 13A (R130) Wankel engine|
|Wheelbase||2,500 mm (98 in) sedan|
|Length||4,370 mm (172 in) sedan|
|Width||1,630 mm (64 in) sedan|
|Height||1,430 mm (56 in) sedan|
|Curb weight||1,070 kg (2,359 lb) sedan|
Following an agreement signed with Bertone in April 1962, the 1965 Luce 1500 show car was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italy. It was low and sharp, looking more like a contemporary BMW Bavaria than any of its smaller Mazda brothers.
The production version, launched in August 1966, had a higher roofline but retained the BMW look. It was a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive 4-door sedan, and featured a square 1.5 L (1490 cc) 1500 SOHC engine, producing 78 hp (58,1 kW) at 5,500 rpm and 84.5 lb·ft (114.6 N·m). It sold poorly at ¥ 695,000 (US$1,930). The 1500ss version with twin carburettors was later introduced, producing 86 hp (64,1 kW) at 5,500 rpm and 86.9 lb·ft (117.8 N·m) at 5,500 rpm. A stroked 1.8 L (1,796 cc) 1800 engine was added for 1968. This new model, the Luce 1800, produced 104 hp (74,5 kW) at 5,500 rpm and 112 lb ft at 2,500 rpm. An estate (station wagon) was also added. It was introduced two years before the Toyota Corona Mark II and the Nissan Laurel in Japan.
The Luce Mark I was sold in Australia under the names "Mazda 1500"and "Mazda 1800".
A rotary-powered Luce appeared in 1969. The Luce R130 was produced from October 1969 to 1972. It used a 1.3 L 13A engine, which produced 126 hp (94 kW) and 127 lb·ft (172 Nm). Quarter-mile (400 m) performance was 16.9 seconds. This model designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, then working for Bertone, was a front-wheel-drive two-door coupé with front disc brakes. This model, Mazda's only front-wheel-drive rotary, is now a collector's item and very rare.
The Mazda brand entered the United States market in 1970 with just the small R100, but expanded to a full line in 1971. This included all three of the company's piston-powered models, the compact 1200, mid-size 616, and full-size 1800.
The US-market 1800 produced 98 hp (73 kW) and 108 lb·ft (146 N·m) and cost US$2,280. Performance was sluggish, with a 0-60 mph time of 17.5 seconds and a 20.5 seconds and 65 mph (105 km/h) quarter mile. Unlike the rotary cars, the 1800 was a flop. Road & Track magazine said it was solid to the point of being overly heavy, with pleasant handling but poor performance. It was gone from the market for 1972.
Opposite to what happened in the U.S., in Europe the 1800 had a better performance with 104 hp (78 kW) at 5,500 rpm (SAE) and maximum torque of 109 lb·ft (148 N·m) at 3,000 rpm (SAE), for a 0-60 mph time of 13.4 seconds. The poor performance of this engine in USA was probably due to fact that in USA the petrol had an octane index of only 85 r.o.n. while in Europe the petrol at the time had an octane index of 95 r.o.n (up to 100 r.o.n. today). Also the manual transmission with four gears used in Europe contributed to a much better performance than the three-speed automatic transmission usually used in the US. The 1800 (fitted with a manual transmission) also sold in small numbers in Australia.
The number of Mazda 1800 automobiles imported into the U.S. are as follows.
- 1970 - 1,058 Sedan - 937 Estate
- 1971 - 1,020 Sedan - 1,639 Estate
- 1972 - 100 Sedan - 0 Estate
The 1800 saloon (model SVA - 4-door) was producedn from 1968 through 1973 where a reported 39,401 units were made. An 1800 estate version (model SVAV - station wagon) was added in 1970.