You Need This: Rotary-swapped Mazda GLC

By Colin Wood
Feb 16, 2024 | Mazda, Mazda GLC, Engine swap, Rotary engine, Cars For Sale, Mazda Familia, Mazda 323

Photography Courtesy Gavin Bowen/Facebook Marketplace

Whether you know it as the 323 or the Great Little Car (yes, seriously, that’s what the GLC stands for), this ‘70s Mazda now sports a 13B rotary engine.

The listing doesn’t offer much more than that, though it does mention that the engine was “refreshed” about 2000 miles/1 year ago.

As well, based on the pictures, the interior could use a refresh.

Located in Bend, Oregon, this 1977 Mazda GLC is listed at $7000.

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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
2/16/24 12:00 p.m.

Apparently in some markets–Indonesia, I think–this was also called the "Baby Boomer."

DavyZ New Reader
2/16/24 1:35 p.m.

We owned one of those for a while in the 1980's and, quite honestly, I don't think I have ever been in a more underpowered car than a GLC.  Ours was very handsome looking--silver and grey with red accents and steel wheels with "beauty rings", but this didn't make for a serious lack of power.  A rotary swap can only help things.  Shoot, a lawn mower engine would have improved performance over the stock engine.  Did I mention the GLC was underpowered?

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/16/24 2:02 p.m.

We used to have a GLC on staff. We called it the Glick. 

brandonsmash GRM+ Memberand Reader
2/16/24 8:12 p.m.

This reminds me of the wierd engine swaps I saw in Cuba. Some of them were real head-scratchers! 


offroadwine New Reader
2/20/24 11:53 a.m.

I can recall a customer bringing in a newly purchased Goofy Little Car to the independent foreign car shop I was working in, 'round about 1985, complaining about no power. I got the car, drove it and came back thinking it surely had SOMETHING wrong with it, but I was assured that was as good as it got. I was kind of shocked at how gutless it was. I think an old Subaru would have dusted it.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/20/24 11:59 a.m.

Speaking of the GLC, and I realize this is the later front-drive version, but something from the Classic Motorsports back catalog: A 1983 Mazda GLC Race Car From the Glory Days of IMSA

j_tso Dork
2/20/24 1:51 p.m.

In reply to offroadwine :

that's when you'd install a Weber DG carb and headers. Fuel economy would take a hit though.

Jim Pettengill
Jim Pettengill HalfDork
2/21/24 1:39 a.m.

Rod Millen built one of these as a rally car for a guy named Willy Rutherford in England back in the late 70s, before Rod came to America.  IIRC, it had Ford Econobox suspension and was very quick.  Read about it in a British magazine called Cars and Car Conversions, which was a great mag, the British equivalent to GRM.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/21/24 9:23 a.m.

So, how to make your Mazda GLC quicker/faster/better?

Welcome to the Automod catalog. I worked here after graduating college, and my first task: memorize the catalog. 

I realize I’m covering both front- and rear-wheel-drive GLC variants, but I found some listings inside its pages.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
2/21/24 9:24 a.m.

Headers for your Mazda GLC? We had them.

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