by Johanna Patterson
The Mazda 1800 was aptly called "The Leading Lady", it at the time heading the magnificent range of Mazda Sedans.
By putting a powerful 1800cc 104 bhp engine into the delightfully styled Mazda 1500 body shell, the engineers at Toyo Kogyo had given the chassis the type of power it deserved, and needed.
The 1800 was quiet and relaxed in a manner shown by very few four cylinder cars. In traffic, the car could be held in first or second gears without any worries about overrevving; this made city driving wonderfully easy. Second was the most useful ratio in these conditions, the exceptional torque allowing the car to pull away from nothing, without hesitation.
The 1800 achieved its extra capacity by increasing stroke from 78mm to 94mm, giving a positive undersquare configuration which contrasted to the exactly square dimensions of the 1500 engine. And best of all, torque took a giant leap to 109 ft/lb. at 3000 rpm using a 3.7:1 final drive ratio.
The gear-box ratios were the same as the 1500, but the final drive substantially increased the range of the intermediate gears. The gear change wwas floor mounted, and proved positive without being notchy, and is well located for easy use.
Similarly, all other controls on the Mazda were well placed and consequently easy to familiarize yourself with. The excellent layout allowed all major operations to be carried out without need for stretching or groping. One lever on the steering
column controled dipswitch, headlight flasher, windscreen wipers and washers - all within fingertip reach. Common these days, but rare in the era of the 1800.
The instruments were located in two round dials on the driver's side of the dashboard and comprised speedo
(including tripmeter and odometer) ammeter and temperature and fuel gauges.
The 1800 came with reclining seats (with headrests), a push-button radio with power-operated aerial, electric clock, generous courtesy lights, a full
range of instruments,
demister, tinted windscreen and quality ventilation system.
It also had the stopping power required of an 100+ mph car, with a power disc-drum braking system, which produced minimum-fade under the most rigorous of conditions.
Steering was by recirculating ball-type, with 4 turns lock-to-lock, making easy work of navigating the shopping centre car parks. The turning circle was an amazing 32 feet, and yet the most outstanding feature was the price tag, only $2,830!