Sunday, January 06, 2008

My Little Mazda Mizer 808

I believe I had a mullet in the first half of the 1980s.

Up until when the Coast Guard shaved my head. But then they sent me home for being a Canadian. They actually accused me of trying to fool them.

I had as bare a scalp as I ever did. And I learned that I am not a man who looks good with a shaved head. I truly look like a pin head. The head of a pin. It took six months for my hair to grow back to even a punker cut.

But I digress.

Passing into adulthood in the Southeastern states of the U.S.; well, I was assimilated.

I had long hair halfway down my back. But it was cut over top of my ears. I pushed the hair on my forehead straight back.

I’m pretty sure that is what they call a mullet.

But we didn’t call it that back then.

I don’t think we called it anything?

I had a Mazda Mizer – an 808 – it was a four-cylinder two-door Datsun look-alike – it was the first Mazda sold in North America. It was a four-on-the-floor standard.

And it was a great little car.

I got it in high school, my Dad did help me buy it from a nurse. It had an AM Radio and 8-Track cassette player.

It was silver – and the hot Georgia sun had oxidized the paint so bad that I took it to Earl Schrieb’s and had them paint it metallic powder blue. They didn’t even take the old decal pinstripes off – they just painted right over them. So I repainted the pinstripes myself.

And you could tell.

The interior was black vinyl seats – splitting from the sun. and black rubber floor. The dash was all black. And when I would climb in that car in the summer – after lifeguarding – those seats burned. So the seats were usually covered by beach towels. And a trip to a carpet store for black remnants let me carpet my little car in black shag.

I took off my old gas pedal and put a chrome bare foot pedal down there.

My 8-track cassette case held the following jewels

  • Styx – Grand Illusion
  • Queen – News to the World
  • SuperTramp – Breakfast in America
  • Steve Miller – Fly like an eagle.
  • Johnny Cash Live at San Quinton
  • The Best of Hank Williams (not Jr.)
  • Lynard Skynards Greatest Hits
  • Frampton Comes Alive
  • And a bootleg copy I got in Windsor on a summer vacation of the Best of The Beatles.

Pretty eclectic, eh?

I had no air-conditioning in that car. You wanted air conditioning? You drove a little faster with the windows rolled down.

And the faster you drove with the windows down, the louder you had to turn up the stereo.

That AM radio was quickly replaced with a Pioneer AM/FM radio. Cassettes had just come out – but had not yet caught on. We had no boom-boxes – no super-woofers. But we had four good speakers. And 96 Rock in Atlanta sounded great.

I drove that car through the remainder of my time in Georgia – through University – while we lived in Baton Rouge Louisiana.

For a brief time – one semester – I would drive into New Orleans from Baton Rouge everyday to attend courses. This meant driving on I-10 over all the bayou. On one day – coming home from New Orleans – my engine seized up.

I didn’t take care of that great little car. I didn’t bother to check the oil. And so it gave up on me.

I got out of my little car – lifted the smoking hood, and started walking the 20 mile bridge over the bayou. There were four lanes of expressway. Shortly along came two Coast Guard officers who stopped to help me; a man and a woman.

They were extremely kind, generous, and persons a mullet headed clod like me could look up to. They left an impression.

I wound up selling my Mazda Mizer 808 to the garage that towed it away for me. I couldn’t afford to fix it.

And that next February, in 1983, I joined the United States Coast Guard myself.

And that was the last I ever saw of my mullet.

But the next car I bought was a Mazda 626. That car I drove to Canada.


Anonymous said...

I miss that Mazda 626....It took us both to Ottawa. Over 20 years ago but still some of the best memories. I was just telling Caroline about our "caps" games.. Terry Quinlan

Anonymous said...

That was a great story. I laughed, I cried, I immediately went out and bought a mazda 3i.

Anonymous said...

I too had an 808 Mizer. A 1976, red. Bought new $2600 Painted silver bumpers, no cig lighter, no day/night mirror, no recling seats, no radio, no carpet. The list of "no" was larger than the list of "yes". Drove it from NY to Phila 60 times and to FLA 3 times. Blew a head gasket and then it got smashhed horribly. What a great little car!!

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