Junkyard Gem: 1991 Mazda Navajo

Junkyard Gem: 1991 Mazda Navajo



Noting the way in which American Motors after which Chrysler printed cash by placing former sedan and wagon drivers into new XJ Cherokees throughout the second half of the 1980s, Ford bought busy designing a suburbia-friendly SUV primarily based on off-the-shelf Ranger powertrain and suspension elements. This was the Explorer, which debuted for the 1991 mannequin yr and sparked the commuter-truck craze that boomed throughout the 1990s and continues to this present day. Everyone knows in regards to the prominence of the ’91 Explorer within the annals of American automotive historical past, however can we keep in mind that Mazda bought a badge-engineered model for just a few years? This is a kind of uncommon vehicles, present in a Denver self-service yard just lately.

Junkyard Gem: 1991 Mazda Navajo

Ford had an in depth relationship with Mazda when this truck was being designed, and had actually bought Ford Courier-badged Mazda pickups right here from 1972 via 1982. Beginning within the 1986 mannequin yr, North American Ford Sellers supplied the Mazda-designed/Kia-built Festiva, which turned the Aspire throughout its second era. Even the sacred Mustang almost turned a sibling to the Mazda MX-6 (this automobile ended up with Probe badges). 1991 could have been the yr of Peak Mazda in Dearborn, with the brand-new Escort shifting onto the 323/Protegé platform and Mercury sellers debuting a Capri inbuilt Australia on Mazda .

Junkyard Gem: 1991 Mazda Navajo

With all that Mazda going into Fords, it was time for a Ford to get Mazda badges (Japanese automobile consumers had been in a position to purchase 13B rotary-powered large GM sedans with Mazda Roadpacer badges for just a few years within the 1970s). Mazda had simply poured many yen into growing the MPV minivan for the North American market and did not have sufficient left over to design a brand new truck to compete with the Cherokee (to not point out the Hen Tax, which was utilized to imported SUVs starting in 1989), which meant that such a truck may very well be bought right here extra cheaply if constructed on our shores.

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Junkyard Gem: 1991 Mazda Navajo

So, Mazda made a deal to place its badges on Kentucky-built Explorers with completely different grille, taillights and wheels over right here. Presumably to make the comparability with the Jeep Cherokee extra express, the title of a Native American nation was appropriated for this truck.

Junkyard Gem: 1991 Mazda Navajo

Sadly for Mazda, Ford would not permit the five-door Explorer to be bought as a Navajo. For the reason that primary purpose People had been going nuts over SUVs on the time was a want to switch their Squaresville sedans, minivans and wagons with tough-looking vehicles that would nonetheless haul the household to the mall in consolation, having simply two doorways up entrance meant that Navajo gross sales by no means amounted to a lot. After a paltry 40,000 or so gross sales, Mazda gave up on the Navajo after 1994, ceding the North American SUV market to its rivals till the introduction of the 2000 Mazda Tribute (a rebadged Ford Escape).

Junkyard Gem: 1991 Mazda Navajo

Each Explorer and Navajo constructed via 1995 got here with a German-built pushrod Cologne V6 below the hood, giving this truck one thing in widespread with the Ford Capri of the 1970s. This one displaced four.zero liters and was rated at 155 horsepower.

Junkyard Gem: 1991 Mazda Navajo

Imagine it or not, some consumers of early Explorers and Navajos selected not to “improve” to an automated transmission. The unique purchaser of this truck (who could have been in Canada, because the construct tag reveals the code for the Canadian gross sales workplace) took the bottom five-on-the-floor guide, made by Mazda.

Junkyard Gem: 1991 Mazda Navajo

It took Ford till the 21st century to surrender on constructing Explorers with guide transmissions.

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Junkyard Gem: 1991 Mazda Navajo

In 1991, the Navajo was out there solely with four-wheel-drive; a rear-wheel-drive model may very well be had for the 1992 via 1994 mannequin years.

Junkyard Gem: 1991 Mazda Navajo

The Explorer was a truck at coronary heart, with the Ranger’s body-on-frame chassis design. This meant that it was thirstier and rougher-riding than the unibody XJ Cherokee. Had Iraq’s August 1990 invasion of Kuwait carried out for gasoline costs what the 1979 Iranian Revolution and 1973 Yom Kippur Conflict had carried out, the SUV increase could by no means have occurred and the Explorer would have change into a footnote in automotive historical past; because it was, gasoline stayed pretty low-cost and consumers for commuter vehicles did not care a couple of single-digit gasoline economic system penalty. I do know I felt like an fool for getting a 350 as an alternative of a 454 for my 1965 Impala within the fall of 1990, however a childhood of fuel traces tends to make you cautious.

Junkyard Gem: 1991 Mazda Navajo

What number of miles had been on this one when it retired? We’ll by no means know, as a result of Ford nonetheless hadn’t gone to five-digit odometers throughout its mannequin vary by 1991.

Junkyard Gem: 1991 Mazda Navajo

I’ve discovered that actually high-mile autos in junkyards are inclined to look fairly good, as a result of a half-million miles do not cross beneath your tires if you happen to fail to take fastidious care of your experience. This inside on this one is pretty tough however not utterly trashed.

Junkyard Gem: 1991 Mazda Navajo

The plastic-and-tape window alternative and hood graffiti counsel that the ultimate proprietor of this automobile knew they’d be the ultimate proprietor and refused to speculate any further dimes into its maintenance.

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Junkyard Gem: 1991 Mazda Navajo

The roof rack and gas-can mount counsel many years of off-road adventures within the Rockies.

Junkyard Gem: 1991 Mazda Navajo

It is attending to the purpose the place I’ve a tough time discovering autos in Entrance Vary Colorado boneyards that do not have any cannabis-business-related stickers. These different states can legalize all of it they need, however Colorado was first!

Now this is a cringe-inducing business! The Navajo Nation is lawyered up and coming after firms for this type of factor these days.

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