For $14,000, Manet, Monet, MazdaS

With the introduction of the 3 sedan and hatch, Mazda really brought back the art of fun driving to their small cars. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Mazda3 takes that one step further, bringing actual art to the car. The question will be however, does its price paint a pretty picture?

I don't want to be the one to say Ayatollah so, but I knew yesterday's Iran Khodro Paykan would go down in a Crack Pipe loss of revolutionary proportions, and Shah-enough it did, with more than 90% of you choosing door number two.

Mazda's small car used to come with two doors, although by the turn of the century the company had pretty much given up on anything with fewer than four portals. In the U.S. only the MX-5 remains available with so few modes of egress, as even its bigger and more rotarier brother the RX-8 came with a vestigial set of rear doors - or maybe they were airbrakes.

For $14,000, Manet, Monet, MazdaS

Of course, having so many doors does offer a more grand canvas should you decide to use your car as an outlet for your own personal taste in artistic expression, and that's just what the owner of this 2006 Mazda3 S Grand Touring sedan has done. Festooned with Frank Frazetta-esque dragons and buxom bikini-clad barbarian princesses, this custom Mazda3 is attention grabbing and hence not a good choice for shrinking violets, bank robbery getaway drivers, or Steve Bartman.

The customizations on this 46,000-mile Mazda aren't just visual, but with an Alpine head unit and aftermarket speakers, it may also be appreciated by the likes of Chen Guangcheng on his flight to freedom. The ad claims custom upholstered door panels too, something Chen might possibly notice by their feel.

For $14,000, Manet, Monet, MazdaS

As you would expect of a reasonably recent car where a lot of cash has gone into just under the clear coat, not much of that found its way deeper into the engine compartment. Not that it's all that necessary here, what with the Mazda's 2.3-litre 160-horse engine. The seller does note that the hood prop has been replaced by Redline Tuning gas struts, and I'll understand if you need a moment to pull your jaw back up off the floor upon hearing that revelation.

Typical of those who value form over function, the ad doesn't bother to say whether the gearbox is Mazda's joyous 5-speed stick or that prophylactic of fun - an automatic. He does say that the car is optioned out with everything short of a Nav system, so that should mean you'll find leather on the seats and wheel as well as power this and that, and electroluminescent gauges. Seeing as the seller does note a custom painted shift knob we'll give him the benefit of the doubt that this car's custom aluminum pedals includes a clutch.

For $14,000, Manet, Monet, MazdaS

It was funny that the 2004 introduction of the sporty Mazda3 seemed to coincide with the decline of Honda's Civic - the car that used to wear the crown of most engaging small Japanese car - and huzzahs to Mazda for picking up the mantle. The second generation of the 3 lost some of the magic - it was larger, heavier, smilier - making this version still the one to have. And this particular Mazda3 is not just an S Grand Touring edition, but it has all those coolio customizations. Bonus!

Maybe not so bonus but a boner on the seller's part is pricing his work of art at $14,000, which is a premium over where these cars generally blue book. Of course this one may demand not a garage but a gallery, potentially making that premium an investment, just like that picture of dogs playing poker your wife makes you keep in the closet. Do you think fourteen large is a fair price for so unique a Mazda3? Or, is that a price that's just paint by numbers too much?

You decide!

Washington DC Craigslist or go here if the ad disappears.

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