The Familia AP (323 in most of the world, GLC or Great Little Car in North America) debuted in January 1977 as a standout in the rear wheel drive subcompact crowd, replacing the Grand Familia (818). There was a choice of hatchbacks and station wagon bodies, both available with a 3 or 5-door bodystyle. Three Mazda engines were on offer, the 985 cc PC, 1,272 cc TC, or 1,415 cc UC. It shared many parts with the older Mazda Grand Familia. This was the first appearance of the 323 name.
In South Africa a 1,600 cc model was available – however this model did not have a Mazda engine, unlike the rest of the range. In order to satisfy that country's local content regulations, a Mitsubishi Saturn 1.6 litre unit was used.
The range was replaced in 1980, however the station wagon models continued in production until 1986. In 1981 a facelift was given to the wagon range, to give a front end treatment similar to Mazda's front-wheel drive 323/Familia range.
Later, a five-speed manual gearbox was introduced as an alternative to the original four-speed manual gearbox. At the same time the original 7 in (17.8 cm) round sealed beam headlights were replaced with square sealed beam units on all models except the van, together with a general styling and mechanical upgrade. A three-speed automatic gearbox was also available throughout the model run.
When the next generation front-wheel-drive Familia/323/GLC models were released in 1980, the wagon and van models continued unchanged, due to Mazda not developing wagon models for the newer range. A facelift however was given to the wagons in 1981, which gave the models the front clip (albeit with different bumpers) of the front-wheel-drive models. Production of the wagons continued to 1986, when a new front-wheel-drive model was introduced.
For the United States, the GLC, advertised as the Great Little Car, was only offered with one engine at a time. The new GLC overlapped with the old-style Mizer for part of 1977 and was produced through 1980 before being replaced by the next-generation GLC. The marketing campaign in the USA had the words "Great Little Car" set to the tune of Spanish Flea.
Source: Wikipedia, 2011