The first Car of the Year in Malaysia?

It’s that time when Car of the Year (COTY) awards are being given out for the best of the new models launched in Malaysia.

In 1974, almost 50 years ago, what was likely to have been the first Car of the Year in Malaysia (we can’t find earlier records) was the Mazda 808 Sedan 1.2. The new model, launched in 1973, received over 22,000 votes from readers of The Sunday Mail, a popular weekend newspaper paper.

1973 Mazda 808

Assembled locally at Asia Automobile Industries in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, the 808 Sedan was priced price at RM8,465 (without insurance). It was sold by Asia Motors, the distributor for Mazda at that time (until the mid-1980s).

The 808. known as Familia in Japan, was succeeded by the 323 in 1979 which continued until 2003. It was then replaced by a new model called the Mazda3 (Axela in Japan) which continues to this day.

1975 Mazda 808 Coupe
The 808 range also had a sporty coupe version which was available with a 4-cylinder petrol engine as well as a rotary engine (RX-3).

The distributors of Mazda have changed over the years too. After Asia Motors ceased being a representative, the brand was handled temporarily by a small company before Cycle & Carriage Bintang (CCB) took over in the early 1990s. CCB would hold it for about 20 years before it passed on in 2008 to Bermaz Motor, with Prima Merdu as the current distributor and importer, respectively.

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