What is it?

Most of my friends know me as a massive car nerd. For nearly all of them, I am the only person they know who can identify any ordinary vehicle on sight, provide an on-the-spot assessment of the car in question’s relative strengths and weaknesses, and offer a potted history of the model. That’s probably nerdy enough, but the other day I received a pleasant affirmation of my marginal placing along the car geek spectrum.

As I said above, I like to think my knowledge of cars is pretty robust. I can recognise most vehicles from the last fifty years, even those that are not available to buy in the UK (the internet certainly helps in this regard, I won’t lie). One can therefore imagine my surprise when I encountered this:

The Mystery Motor

I had no idea what it was. There was no badge, no signwriting that I could see, and no recognisable features that linked it to other models that might come from the same manufacturer (if you can identify the car before you finish reading, by the way, award yourself a biscuit.) What made this even more peculiar was that it wasn’t some kind of obscure, low-volume sports car either. No, this looked like a fairly standard luxury barge that would have been produced in reasonably large numbers in the 1970s or 80s.

My first thought was that it was a Buick or something else American, which may or may not have had something to do with the big chrome grille, plastic bumpers and abundance of straight lines. Contextual knowledge, however, reminded me that there were usually old Mazdas parked near to here, and sure enough the Mystery Machine’s wheels did have a certain eighties Mazda look to them…

If (a) being interested in the damn thing for more than five seconds, (b) getting my camera out and taking a sneaky pic and (c) recognising where the alloy wheels might have come from weren’t sad enough, then going home and trying to find out more on the internet sure as hell was. A trawl of Wikipedia revealed a range of Mazda luxury saloons and coupes from the 1980s, very few of which made it out of Japan and even fewer of which bore any resemblance to the thing I’d seen.

Now, the best thing about looking for things like this on Google is that inevitably, you always end up on the website of someone even sadder/more obsessed than yourself. I only base this statement in experience grounded in cars, airliners and football strips, mind, so can accept no responsibility for the consequences should you choose to apply this logic to more licentious purposes. So it was that after firing a few rounds of keywords off into Google, I wound up on the homepage of a Canadian chap who had a vast collection of 1980s Japanese car brochures for sale. Scrolling through the images, it didn’t take long before I stumbled on a blurry centrefold scan of ‘my’ car, complete with title. Job done, and it had only taken twenty minutes. Well, maybe twenty-five. Or thirty.

At this point I closed the laptop, finished my coffee and went to get some fresh air, the reason being that I didn’t want to be tempted to slide any further down the pyramid of obsession/nerdiness by buying any of the brochures that were on sale. Besides, if I wanted to do that there’s a brilliant little shop in Tokyo called Lindbergh where I could get the same things for half the price. No, my place on the car nerd spectrum was affirmed, as this blog entry will testify. Just as I ended up on Car Brochure Guy’s site looking for info on an old saloon, so someone might end up on this site looking for less detailed info on the car in question. And so the resolution of the car nerd spectrum is enhanced.

The car I saw, in case you’re wondering, was a Mazda Cosmo.

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