At $3,600, Is This 2003 Mazdaspeed Protegé A Rocket You Just Might Pocket?

Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

If you like the idea of a hot hatch, only without the hatch part, then you might just kitten to today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Mazdaspeed Protegé. It wears a boot, and we’ll have to decide if this extremely stock sedan comes with a price that might have you giving it the boot.

Robert Frost had miles to go before he slept. On Wednesday we had a 2007 Jaguar XJ8 sedan that had enough miles on it that you might just have you losing some sleep.


Those miles were reflected in its price however, and at $5,500, it earned itself a 70-percent Nice Price win. No one could accuse that cat of going to the dogs.

The era of the rally-bred sporty small sedan appears to be waning. Subaru’s WRX is a pale reflection of once was. Mitsubishi completely killed off the EVO last year. Adding insult to injury, that company plans to sully the name by applying it to some sort of electric crossover concept. I’d be mad if I gave a double dookie about anything Mitsubishi does these days.

Both Volkswagen (Golf R) and Ford (Focus RS) keep the rabid rally car flame alive, but both of those are also hatchbacks. Won’t someone please think of the children… er, booty lovers?


Here we have a 2003.5 Mazdaspeed Protegé, and while it spins only its front wheels, it still harkens from an era when car makers—mostly Japanese ones—cared about small sedan performance. Now all they seem to care about is electric crossovers.

Much like last week’s Audi S4 that maintained important mid-year updates, this .5 Protege is noteworthy as it features a slew of changes over the 2003. Before we get to that, just what the hell is a Mazdaspeed Protegé anyway, right? Well, it’s Mazda’s titular successor to the MP3, the earlier hot Protege massaged and upgraded by Mazda tuner, Racing Beat.


The Mazdaspeed takes all that was good from the MP3, and adds to that a turbocharger for its two-litre DOHC four. That was engineered by Callaway Cars. The turbo bumped the horsepower from the MP3's 140 to 170 here in the MSP. The Garrett T25 turbo blows through an intercooler stolen off of Mazda’s European turbodiesel, and the power is routed through a five-speed stick married to a limited slip diff and spinning larger (24-mm vs. 22) half-shafts. Brakes are also larger and are also from Mazda’s European parts bin.


All good, right? Well, while the MSP’s suspension was given a significant going over, it was still a FWD economy car at heart and hence torque-steer under heroics can prove an issue.


Okay, now, what about those .5 updates. The MSP had an incredibly short model run and the differences between the editions may be seen as subtle, but they do stand out when you compare the cars side by side.

The ’03 cars have fog lights in the front bumper, while the .5. cars do not. The first models also had silver-painted RacingHart wheels while the later ones were gunmetal grey. Both editions had large boot lid-mounted spoilers, however the earlier one was a blade style, while the later ones rocked a loop-de-hoop. Supposedly the clutch was also upgraded mid-year, but I hove no confirmation of that. Other minor changes to pedals and shifters took place, but, you know, yada, yada, yada.


This one is in amazingly stock condition, and seems to be in terrific shape as well. There’s a mere 130K on the clock, and the seller says that everything works as it should. The paint looks like it could use a clay bar, but is intact and doesn’t seem to suffer any highway pepper.

The interior is mostly stock too, although there’s an aftermarket head unit in the dash, and what looks like an alarm flasher in the base of the IP. The engine bay appears unmolested, and yes, that strut stiffener is stock to the car.


I think the best modern day analog to this MSP is the VW GLI. Both cars are FWD with hot motors and an aggressive (as much as a cheap car can have) handling package. A GLI will set you back thirty-grand new. This Mazda is asking $3,600.


Ah, but it’s Black Friday you say, shouldn’t that represent some sort of killer deal? Well, that’s up to you to decide. Does this Mazdaspeed Protegé feel worth that $3,600? Or, is that in fact a deal killer?

You decide!


San Diego, CA Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Fauxshizzle for the hookup!

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.