|Also called||Mazda 929|
|Body and chassis|
Mazda used the Luce (pronounced lu-che) name on its largest sedan in Japan from 1969 until 1990. It was exported as the RX-4 if installed with a rotary engine. The Luce nameplate was replaced by the Mazda Sentia name in 1991. The name "Luce" was taken from the Italian word for "light".
The Mazda 929, the name used for export, was originally a mid-size car from 1973 to 1987 and as a full-size car thereafter. When equipped with a rotary engine, it was called the Mazda RX-4 in export markets. Later, after the "Luce" name disappeared in Japan, the "929" badge was applied to the succeeding Sentia for the few export markets which received the last two generations. The 929 has always been a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive vehicle, and usually the largest sedan sold by Mazda, not including the briefly sold Mazda Roadpacer. Station wagon versions of the first and second generations were available internationally.
SU/SV series (1966–1972)
|Also called||Luce 1500/1800/R130
|Production||August 1966–1972 (1500)
R130: <1,000 built 
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door coupé
5-door station wagon
|Engine||1.5 L UB I4 (1500, "SUA")
1.8 L VB I4 (1800, "SVA")
1.3 L 13A Wankel engine (R130)
|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 (SUA), 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 PS (57 kW) at 5500 rpm and 84.5 lb·ft (114.6 N·m). It sold poorly at ¥ 695,000 (US$1,930). The 1500 SS version with twin carburettors was later introduced, producing 86 PS (63 kW) at 5500 rpm and 86.9 lb·ft (117.8 N·m) at 5500 rpm. A stroked 1.8 L (1796 cc) 1800 engine was added for 1968. This new model, the Luce 1800, produced 104 PS (76 kW) at 5500 rpm and 112 lb ft at 2500 rpm. To accommodate the taller 1800 engine the bonnet on this model has a slight bump in the middle with an air inlet on the leading edge.
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 and most other export markets under the names "Mazda 1500" and "Mazda 1800".
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 (99 PS; 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 PS (76 kW) at 5500 rpm (SAE) and maximum torque of 109 lb·ft (148 N·m) at 3000 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, four-door) was produced from 1968 through 1973 where a reported 39,401 units were made. An 1800 estate version (model SVAV – station wagon) was added in 1970.
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, which was similar to the NSU Ro 80. This model, Mazda's only front-wheel-drive rotary, is now a collector's item and very rare.
LA2/LA3 series (1972–1977)
|Also called||Mazda 929
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door coupé
5-door station wagon
|Wheelbase||2,510 mm (99 in) sedan|
|Length||4,240 mm (167 in) sedan|
|Width||1,660 mm (65 in) sedan|
|Height||1,410 mm (56 in) sedan|
|Curb weight||1,060 kg (2,337 lb) sedan|
The 1972 rotary Luce was also known as the Mazda RX-4 in export markets. It was available as a coupé, sedan, and "custom" (station wagon). Two rotary engines were offered, the regular 12A and low-emission AP 13B. There were also piston models available, and van models for the Japanese market. The original version carried LA2 chassis codes, after a rather thorough facelift of a much more square design it became the LA3.
- 1973–1976 1.8 L (1769 cc) 1800 I4, 2-barrel, 83 hp (61 kW)/101 lb·ft (137 N·m) (export), 110 and 105 PS (81 and 77 kW) (1973 LA2VV van and 1975 LA2V Van, Japan)
- 1975–1976 2.0 L (1970 cc) F/MA I4, 2-barrel, 103 hp (76 kW)/123 lb·ft (167 N·m)
- 1972–1976 13B (1308 cc), 127 hp (93 kW)/138 lb·ft (188 N·m)
The Mazda RX-4 (called the Luce Rotary in Japan) is an automobile sold in the 1970s. It was a larger car than its rotary-powered contemporaries, the Capella-based RX-2 and Grand Familia-based RX-3. It shared the Luce chassis, replacing the R130 in October 1972, and was produced through October 1977. Its predecessor (the R130) and replacement (the rotary Luce Legato) were not sold in the United States. Mazda marketed the RX-4 as being sporty and luxurious "personal luxury car" with the RX-4 having the best of both worlds. This gave Mazda a well needed boost in the popularity of the Wankel engine unique to Mazda.
The RX-4 was initially available as a hardtop coupé and sedan, with a station wagon launched in 1973 to replace the Savanna Wagon. Under the hood at first was a 130 hp (97 kW) 12A engine, but this was replaced by the larger 13B in 1974 producing 125 hp (93 kW), for export. This engine was Mazda's new "AP" (for "anti-pollution") version, with much-improved emissions and fuel economy, but somewhat worse cold-starting behavior.
In South Africa it was produced until 1979, all years only with the 12A engine.
The car used an strut-type independent suspension in front with a live axle in the rear. Brakes were discs in front and drums in the rear. Curb weight was low at 2,620 lb (1,188 kg) and the wheelbase fairly short at 99 in (2510 mm). The body was freshened in 1976.
- United States
For the United States market, the RX-4 was sold from 1974 through 1978, when the RX-7 debuted. The 13B produced 110 hp (82 kW) and 117 lb·ft (159 N·m) in United States emissions form. Base pricing was $4295, with the automatic transmission ($270) and air conditioning ($395) the only expensive options.
Road & Track magazine was impressed, noting the car's improved fuel economy and price compared to the RX-3. This was notable, as the Wankel engine had suffered by the mid 1970s with a reputation as a gas-guzzler. Performance was good in a 1974 comparison test of six wagons, with an 11.7 s sprint to 60 mph (97 km/h) and an 18 s/77.5 mph quarter-mile. The magazine noted that the wagon's brakes suffered from the extra 300 lb (136 kg) weight compared to the coupé.
The RX-4 was on Road & Track magazine's Ten Best list for "Best Sports Sedan, $3500–6500" in 1975.
The first Mazda 929 was introduced in 1973, as an export name for the piston-engined second generation Mazda Luce, (itself introduced in autumn 1972). The first generation Luce had been called the "Mazda 1500" or "Mazda 1800" in export markets, but as engines of different displacement were beginning to be used across lines, such a naming philosophy would have soon become confusing. The 929/Luce was a large (for Japan) coupé, sedan, and station wagon powered by a 1.8 L (1,769 cc) inline-4 Mazda VB engine. Output was 94 hp (69 kW) and 101 lb·ft (137 N·m).
- 1973–1977 1.8 L (1,769 cc) VB I4, 2-barrel, 94 hp (69 kW)/101 lb·ft (137 N·m)
- 1975– 2.0 L (1,970 cc) MA I4, 2-barrel, 103 hp (76 kW)/123 lb·ft (167 N·m)
LA4 series (1977–1981)
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||4-door sedan
5-door station wagon/van
|Wheelbase||2,610 mm (103 in) sedan|
|Length||4,625 mm (182 in) sedan|
|Width||1,690 mm (67 in) sedan|
|Height||1,385 mm (55 in) sedan|
|Curb weight||1,235 kg (2,723 lb) sedan|
The Luce Legato (introduced as the LA4 in October 1977) was a large and luxurious sedan, still powered by Mazda's piston or rotary engines. It was also available as a four-door pillarless hardtop that looked like a huge, square coupé, and a wagon, which had more of a utilitarian role than the sedans. The coupé was renamed the Series CD Mazda Cosmo.
While the Luce was a large, luxuriously equipped sedan, it still complied to Japanese Government dimension regulations, and it wasn't the largest sedan Mazda sold in Japan. That honor went to the short-lived Mazda Roadpacer, which was sourced from GM's Australian brand called the Holden Premier.
This generation sedan was not sold in North America. It was originally designed Luce Legato, but the Japanese automobile industry authorities would not allow for what they considered a name change and so it was officially sold as simply the Luce. The "L" portion hung on though, with export models receiving the new car as the "929L".
The rebodied Mazda Luce Legato was introduced late in 1977 and became the second generation 929 for export markets, often called the 929L. There was no coupé version developed of this generation, although a four-door hardtop body was available in Japan and some other markets. A station wagon was added in February 1979. The design was American inspired, with stacked rectangular headlights and a large chrome grille. A more efficient 2.0 L I4, producing 90 hp (66 kW) with a single-barrel carb replaced the existing engines. First presented in Japan in October 1979 was a facelifted version with large, rectangular headlights and a more orthodox appearance. The final addition was a 2.2 L Diesel engine in September 1980. Its output was 66 hp (49 kW) and 104 N·m (142 N·m). The 929 was replaced after 1981 by the next generation Luce/929, although the second generation station wagon continued in production until the March 1988 as no estate replacement of subsequent generations was ever developed.
Aside from the regular piston-engined variants, the 12A or 13B rotary engines were on offer. The piston-engined variants were exported as the Mazda 929. A rotary-engined version was exported to "general issue" countries and sold as an RX-9. Most RX-9's were sold with the smaller 12A engine.
A facelift was given to the range in 1980, giving the car a more 'European' styled front. When the range was replaced in 1981, the wagon models continued, due to there being no wagon model of the new range developed.
- 1977–1980 1.8 L (1,769 cc) I4, 2-barrel, 83 hp (61 kW)/101 lb·ft (137 N·m)
- 1977–1980 2.0 L F/MA (1,970 cc) I4, 1-barrel, 90 hp (66 kW)
- 1977–1980 13B, 127 hp (93 kW)/138 lb·ft (188 N·m)
- 1980–1980 2.2 L diesel, 66 hp (49 kW)/104 lb·ft (142 N·m)
HB series (1981–1986)
|Also called||Mazda 929
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||4-door hardtop
|Engine||2.0 L F/MA I4
2.0 L FE I4
1.2 L 12A Wankel
1.3 L 13B Wankel
|Wheelbase||2,615 mm (103 in)|
|Length||4,665 mm (184 in)|
|Width||1,690 mm (67 in)|
|Height||1,360 mm (54 in)|
|Curb weight||1,215 kg (2,679 lb)|
The next generation of Luce, introduced to Japan in October 1981, was built on the HB platform. Exports again occurred as the 929. Japanese customers could purchase the Luce sold at the previously established Mazda dealerships, or the rebadged Mazda Cosmo sold at an exclusive dealership called Mazda Auto. Unlike the Luce, the Cosmo was also sold as a coupé, also exported as the 929 coupé. Cosmo-branded vehicles were installed with rotary engines only, while the Luce offered rotary, and piston-driven engines. Later in 1991, Mazda Auto locations were renamed Eunos.
It was a large front-engine rear-wheel drive sedan or hardtop sedan. The Luce was built on the new HB platform, which was now shared with the Cosmo. This version was introduced as the 929 in 1982 in most export markets and produced until 1986. Luces and Cosmos received several differing front end treatments, with export 929s receiving the very staidest front end designs for 929 sedans and the sportiest flip-up headlight "Cosmo" design for 929 coupés. No station wagon variant was issued on the HB platform; the previous LA4 remained in production as a wagon with a new front end (it was essentially the same as the LA4 from the A-pillar backwards).
This generation vehicle was not sold in North America. In Europe the 929 was badged 2000 sedan or 2000E estate (applied to a facelifted version of the previous generation). The turbo version was never offered in Europe, and neither was the four-door hardtop, although parts of Europe bordering on Eastern Europe and the Middle East did receive it.
- 1981–1986 2.0 L (1,970 cc) MA I4, 1-barrel, 90 hp (66 kW)/118 lb·ft (160 N·m)
- 1981–1986 2.0 L (1,998 cc) FE I4, 2-barrel, 101 hp (74 kW)/115 lb·ft (156 N·m)
- 1981–1986 2.0 L (1,998 cc) FE I4, FI, 118 hp (87 kW)/126 lb·ft (171 N·m)
- 1986–1987 2.0 L (1,998 cc) FET I4, FI, turbo, 120 hp (89 kW)/150 lb·ft (203 N·m)
HC series (1986–1991)
|Also called||Mazda 929
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||4-door hardtop
|Engine||2.0 L FE I4
2.2 L F2 I4
2.0 L JF V6
3.0 L JE V6
1.3 L 13B turbocharged Wankel
|Wheelbase||2,710 mm (106.7 in)|
|Length||4,690–4,930 mm (184.6–194.1 in)|
|Width||1,695–1,725 mm (66.7–67.9 in)|
|Height||1,440–1,450 mm (56.7–57.1 in)|
|Curb weight||1,390 kg (3,064.4 lb)|
The 1986 Luce was large and luxurious on the HC platform, now with the 13B turbo engine as one of many engine options. It was still exported as the 929, and differed from the (continued) Cosmo. At its introduction in 1986, it was offered with Mazda's first V6 engine, called the Mazda J engine which came as a 2.0 L, a 2.0 L turbo, and a 3.0 L for top level model
This generation vehicle was sold in North America after the arrival of the Acura Legend in 1987 in sedan bodystyle only; the hardtop was not available, nor were the rotary engines. Actor James Garner was used as a spokesman introducing the 929 to North America
1991 was the last year of the Luce nameplate. The Eunos Cosmo was already on sale (JC), and the HD platform spawned the Mazda Sentia (now exported as the 929), and the Efini MS-9, making 1991 the last year for a 4-door rotary powered sedan prior to the RX-8. In the 1990s Mazda sold the body stampings to Kia where it was reproduced until the early first decade of the 21st century in piston form and sold in Korea only as the Kia Potentia.
The 929 was updated in 1986 (1987 in some markets) with the HC platform and a 3.0 Liter V6 engine. The car was produced through 1991, again lagging behind its Japan-market twin, the Mazda Luce, by one year. The 929 began U.S. and Canadian sales in 1987; although predominantly available as a 3.0 Liter V6, there were a rare few that made it to the North American market as a 4-cylinder 2.2 F2 in a RWD configuration. After 1990, when Chrysler dropped its Fifth Avenue and Dodge Diplomat (both of which had 318-cubic-inch V8 engines) it would exclusively rival the Toyota Cressida until 1992 when Toyota stopped Cressida exports to concentrate on the new Lexus brand.
The HC platform came out in two variations during its five year span that had identical engines and interior but with two distinct body shapes; a pillared four-door sedan as well as a slightly larger pillarless four-door hardtop. While the pillared model was common in all countries that allowed the importation of the 929 (including the US and Canada), the pillarless model was predominantly seen in the Asian and Australian markets.
The Luce Royal Classic (and lesser-spec Limited) was more expensive than its 929 counterpart, featuring greater technical innovation — both were pillarless hardtops. The Royal Classic was factory fitted with a turbocharged 13B Rotary or 2.0 Litre V6 engines, electric leather seats, digital speedometer, a cool-box for canned beverages, prominent emblems, electronically adjustable suspension and power options throughout. In order to satisfy Japanese regulations concerning exterior dimensions and engine displacement, this generation vehicle was built in two versions; the 3.0 V6 was installed in the longer and wider hardtop bodystyle, and the smaller engines, including the rotary engine, were installed in the shorter and narrower sedan bodystyle. It was the larger model that carried over to the next platform that introduced the Mazda Sentia.
The Canadian 929 came with a 'Winter Package' option and included heated seats, a higher grade alternator, winter tires and non-recessed windshield wipers. A five-speed manual gearbox was an option, but most North American 929s were two-mode ('power' and 'economy') electronic 4-speed automatics. Top speed was 121 mph (195 km/h). A 0–60 mph time of 9.2 seconds was recorded using the manual gearbox; the automatics were somewhat slower at 10 seconds.
The first 3.0-litre V6 engine seen in the 1986–1989 929 was a Single Overhead Cam type with 18 valves. When Mazda released the higher-spec 929S model for the 1990–1991 period, the engine was upgraded to a Double Overhead Cam type with 24 valves, slightly increasing fuel economy, performance and reliability. Also in the revised edition came the presence of an anti-lock braking system, ventilated rear disc brakes and a few inconspicuous changes to the exterior. The standard 18-valve SOHC remained in the base model 929.
- 1986–1990 2.0 L (1,998 cc) FE I4, 1-barrel, 82 hp (60 kW)/152 Nm
- 1986–1990 2.0 L (1,998 cc) FE I4, FI, 116 hp (85 kW)/121 lb·ft (164 Nm)
- 1986–1990 2.2 L (2,184 cc) F2 I4, 1-barrel, 115 hp (85 kW)/129 lb·ft (175 Nm)
- 1986–1990 2.2 L (2,184 cc) F2 I4, FI, 127 hp (93 kW)/141 lb·ft (192 Nm)
- 1986–1990 2.2 L (2,184 cc) F2 I4, FI, 136 PS (100 kW)/19.2 kg·m (188 N·m) (non-catalyzed)
- 2.0 L JFT V6, FI, 110 hp (81 kW)/171 Nm (JDM only)
- 2.0 L JFT V6, FI turbocharged, 146 hp (107 kW)/235 Nm (JDM only)
- 1986–1991 3.0 L (2,954 cc) JE V6, FI, 158 hp (121 kW)/182 lb·ft (247 Nm)
- 3.0 L JE V6, FI, 190 hp, 191 lb·ft (259 N·m)
When the HC series Luce was replaced with the Mazda Sentia, it continued to be manufactured in South Korea as the Kia Potentia. That vehicle was in production from 1992 until 2001 using the 2.0 liter 4-cylinder Mazda FE-DOHC engine, which was the same as the first generation Kia Sportage's gasoline version, 2.2 liter 4-cylinder and a 3.0 liter V6. The Potentia was replaced by the Kia Enterprise, which was based on the Mazda Sentia and introduced in 1997 after the Sentia was cancelled.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mazda Luce.|
- Long, Brian (2004). RX-7. Dorchester: Veloce Publishing. p. 20. ISBN 1-904788-03-3.
- Australian Motor Manual's 1967 Road Test Annual, pages 69–70
- Green Book Price & Model Guide, March – April 1984, page 59
- http://www.uniquecarsandparts.com.au/car_info_mazda_1800.htm Mazda 1800
- Graham Robson, A-Z of Cars of the 1970s, Haymarket Publishing Ltd, 1990, page 102
- Yamaguchi, Jack K. (1978), "Successes- Excesses", in Lösch, Annamaria, World Cars 1978 (Pelham, NY: The Automobile Club of Italy/Herald Books): 64–65, ISBN 0-910714-10-X
- Bellu, René, ed. (September 1990). "Salon: Toutes les Voitures du Monde 90/91". l'Auto Journal (in french) (Paris: Homme N°1) (14 & 15): 301.
- Yamaguchi, Jack K. (1985). The New Mazda RX-7 and Mazda Rotary Engine Sports Cars. St. Martin's Press, New York. ISBN 0-312-69456-3.
- Jan P. Norbye (1973). "Watch out for Mazda!". Automobile Quarterly XI.1: 50–61.
|Mazda Wankel rotary timeline|
|Mazda road car timeline, 1960–1989 — next »|
|Kei car||R360 Coupé|
|Porter Cab||Porter Cab||Scrum|
|Compact||Familia||Familia, Presto||Familia Presto||Familia/323||Familia/323||Familia/323||Familia|
|Familia Van||Familia Van/1000,1200,1300 Pickup||Familia Van/323 Wagon||Familia Van/Wagon|
|Grand Familia / RX-3/Savanna||Étude|
|Mid-size||Capella/616 / RX-2||Capella / 626||Capella / 626||Capella / 626|
|Luce/1500/1800||Luce/RX-4 / 929||Persona|
|Executive||Luce/RX-9 / 929L||Luce / 929||Luce / 929|
|Luce Van / 929 Wagon|
|Luce R130||Cosmo/121/RX-5||Cosmo / 929 Coupé|
|Sports car||Familia Rotary/R100||MX-5|