Just as you thought you were going to drown in a sea of blandness during the late Eighties, with Jason Donovan and The Bangles dominating every radio station’s playlist, and the roads and showrooms filled with cars that rarely dared to differ, salvation arrived.
The kids went wild for Black Box and Jive Bunny and the Mixmasters, while Mazda introduced the latest version of the 323 and along with it the idea of a four-door coupé.
It was novel to say the least. And brave, too. Yet line up a 323F alongside a contemporary Ford Escort and it’s little old Mazda’s family hatch that has stood the test of time. Its compact frontal area, coupé-like roofline and windows and the kammback tail have a modern simplicity to them; pull out the petrol engine and put a battery pack and an electric motor or two under there and it could almost pass for a modern-day electric car. Was this the unseen influence for Ian Callum and team when Jaguar was developing the i-Pace?
At the top of the range, there was even a compact, 2-litre V6 engine than span as smoothly as a sewing machine (I know, because I tested them back in the day) and the car even found its way into the British Touring Car Championship, with Matt Neal at the wheel.
You won’t find Neal has been behind the wheel of this week’s Unexceptional Classified spot. And what a spot it is. Advertised on eBay for the sum of £3950, by car dealer Overbrook, this 1998 323F 1.5 Imola Edition could have been driven out of the pages of the period brochure and its corporate blue-and-black studio scene.
It has covered just 56,000 miles, which is less than 2500 a year – just the right sort of distance to keep everything working the way it should. Its MOT history is all present and correct, with annual inspections and no gaps during its (digital) past, and recent work has included attending to wear and tear on the suspension components, drive shafts and tyres.
And would you just look at the condition of the interior? The leather seats still have a sheen, the blue carpet is unblemished and the plastic – of which there’s plenty – is unweathered. Even the engine bay and 1.5-litre block looks pleasingly free from rust and oil in the usual hotspots for a car of this age.
So, if you are after an unexceptional classic which is something of a talking point and more than welcome at the Hagerty Festival of the Unexceptional, you know what to do…