by Johanna Patterson
The Mazda 1500 is widely regarded today as the car that was to win ready acceptance with the Aussie motoring public. In many regards the 1500 was the car for the time, bridging the gap between large family 6 cylinders and the small 4 cylinder variety, this market segment dominated by the Japanese but now being challenged by locals such as the HB Torana
and Ford Escort
The Mazda 1500 made its debut at the 1967
Sydney International Motor Show, scarcely 3 days after its Tokyo release. It was obvious to all that Mazda wanted the 1500 to be a success down-under, and why wouldn't it? Styling by Nuccio Bertone was refined and sleek, the low waistline allowing plenty of glass to provide excellent all-round visibility. At last Australian's could buy a true mid-sizer of substance.
And of course there was the Mazda quality control, even as early as the 1960's it shining through to ensure each and every owner would enjoy many years of trouble free motoring. The Mazda engineers went to great lengths to ensure body rigidity, and even in fleet owned cars many would comment on the seeming total lack of squeaks and rattles, a common problem with cars built in the era.
The large, seemingly oversized wheels were a blessing in disguise on rough Aussie roads, helping the car drive with a level of comfort and compliance to ensure any Sunday drive was enjoyable and well rewared. Sure, the 1500 motor was not suited to the enthusiast driver, however
it was reasonably tractable, fuel efficient, and best of all, incredibly reliable.
For many women drivers, safety features weighed heavily in any buying decision, and the Mazda 1500 would not disappoint. There was a safety padded dash, seat belt anchors, an advanced fresh air system, crash proof door locks and a re-inforced passenger compartment.
The quality and polish of the 1500 would help it become one of the best to own, drive and, when it came time to say goodbye, to part with, the deserved reputation ensuring top re-sale values were retained for many years. The original model lineup was as follows:
Standard 1500 Sedan:
At $2255 the Mazda idea of "standard" seemed to have delusions of "luxury", it offering plenty more standard kit than most other competitors of the time. Standard inventory included windscreen washers, reversing lights, and an advanced fresh air system.
1500 Deluxe Sedan:
The Deluxe included a radio with power aerial, foldaway armrests and a facia mounted electric clock. Priced at $2750 it was a steal, and the automatic was only $2810!
1500 Station Wagon:
Styled on the 1500 sedan, the wagon also afforded generous unobstructed luggage space. The tail-gate lifted up and out of the way for the easiest of loading/unloading, and it was no surprise it offered the greatest carrying capacity in its class. The rear seat also folded forward to further increase capacity. Prices were $2535 for the manual, and $2905 for the auto.