SEARCH & RESCUE: Mazda Millenia S

Dear JNC readers, we need your help. We trust that if you are reading you 1.) believe in our mission to preserve cars for posterity, and 2.) are experienced in tracking down an elusive but prime vehicular specimens for purchase. We are introducing a new series, Search & Rescue, in which we ask our readership to help us find cars for those who will save them. For the first installment, we are seeking a Mazda Millenia S. Whichever lucky example is chosen will live the rest of its life in a very important collection of historically significant Mazdas and be well taken care of.

The requirements are as follows. The car must be low mileage and in good condition (no restoration needed). [UPDATE] First-year (1995) and Millennium Edition models are preferred, and S trim is a must.

For now, we prefer to not to reveal the buyer’s identity because sellers have a tendency to magically raise prices when thinking that deep pockets are involved. [UPDATE] The cat’s out of the bag. The buyer is Mazda North America. JNC is not receiving payment and that means neither are you, but if what you find is chosen we can throw some swag your way. This is purely about preserving an example of a historically significant Japanese car, and here’s why the Millenia S deserves to be saved.

The Millenia, as many JNCers might know, was one of the few glimpses into what a Mazda luxury marque might have been like. Though the planned Amati brand never came to be, Mazda had its own premium dealers back in Japan, called Eunos.

The Eunos 800 debuted in October 1993 and was launched in the US in the following year as the Mazda Millenia. In the US, it was an effective replacement for the HD 929. However, the Millenia was an altogether different car. Whereas the 929 was a traditional rear-wheel-drive sedan, the Millenia was a contemporary front-wheel-drive sedan, smaller, and with a more intimate and modern interior design.

Its calling card was its state-of-the-art engine. The K-series V6 was light, compact, high-revving (for the most part), and responsive. It was highly praised by the press when new, and while sizes ranged from 1.8- to 2.5 liters, the star of the lineup was the 2.3-liter KJ-ZEM, the supercharged Miller Cycle engine.

One of the most technologically advanced in the industry at the time, the Miller Cycle engine had an additional stroke of sorts beyond the typical intake-compression-expansion-exhaust. Specifically, the intake valves remained open for a period as the pistons began compressing, effectively resulting in an expansion stroke longer than the compression stroke. This enabled the expanding gas to get closer to atmosphere pressure for improved engine efficiency.

Any power loss from the delayed intake valve closure was compensated for by a Lysholm supercharger and intercooler. The result was markedly better fuel efficiency (28 mpg) and emissions than that of typical V6s, and 220PS — or a specific output of over 95PS per liter. Today, it represents another example of Mazda’s achievements with non-traditional powerplant designs like the rotary and compression-ignition SkyActiv-X.

For the US market, the Millenia was sold for the 1995-2002 model years. It was priced equal to or above premium sedans like the Lexus ES300, Infiniti I30, Acura TL, and Volvo S70, and was competitively equipped in comparison. Though sales may have been hurt by the lack of Amati branding, that makes the car all the more rare today.

A Millennium Edition was offered in 2000, which included for $1,000 a leather-wrapped gear selector, suede upholstery, chrome wheels, and “Millennium Edition” badging on the C-pillar and front door cards. It was offered in two exclusive colors, Millennium Red and Millennium Silver.

Can you help us find such a car? We know our readers are constantly browsing Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and used car lots in their home towns. If you know of one sitting in a neighbor’s garage, it’s time to knock on the door. Let us know what you’ve got in the comments, or send an email to info at JapaneseNostalgicCar dot com with “Search & Rescue” in the subject. Remember, this is a car that will be kept and cherished forever, so let’s make it a good one!

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