In the 1980s you would sometimes find antique dealers who favoured not the regulation Volvo 245 but what initially appeared to be a scaled-down Detroit “Woody” (a station wagon with excruciating fake wood panelling adorning the sides and rear door) that hailed from the previous decade.
The bodywork was often finished in two-tone metallic paint, the facia laughed at the very idea of ergonomics and the upholstery was a symphony in chintz.
Such elements combined to give the impression of a station wagon that looked more at home in the background of Columbo than on the less than mean streets of Weybridge.
However, the vehicle in question was an LA4-series Mazda Luce, which was renamed 929 for several export markets and was available only in estate guise in the UK.
Production of this long-forgotten car ran from 1979 to 1988 and the brochures tempted motorists who might have otherwise considered a Ford Granada L Mk2 or a Vauxhall Carlton with such standard-fit niceties as electric windows, central locking and a “three waveband radio”.
Buyers were also assured that the “Welsh dresser you’ve always fancied” would fit in the boot “with ease”, at a stroke piquing the interest of the aforementioned antique dealers.
Only six LA4 929s are believed to still be on the road in this country, and one enthusiast is Dave Wilson, who came by his example in 2014. “I was initially was looking for a Datsun Laurel or Nissan 300C, and this came up,” he said.
Naturally, it was impossible to resist a Mazda of such idiosyncratic style: “The majority of people have never heard of it, and those that see it tend to think it’s a Cortina! However, I’ve always been a bit of a car swat so I knew about them.”
Wilson’s current aim “is to get it back to complete showroom condition. I currently have the engine out so that I can have work carried out and the gearbox and the cooling system refurbished”.
By the end of this month, the utterly conventional Mazda that is now more exclusive than any of the Japanese company’s rotary-engined RX-7 sports coupés will once more wow outer suburbia.