Introducing Project Potentia

In a vintage 1988 ad, Hollywood actor James Garner strides between two European sedans, pontificating against their high sticker prices. Why get a 5-series or a mid-sized Benz when you can get as much car with the Mazda 929? For 8 thousand dollars less, too, he adds.

It seems odd that the third-generation Mazda 929 was positioned as the budget choice for a luxury sedan. You couldn’t fathom that today for the rest of Mazda’s lineup in the Philippines. With their striking Kodo design language, “Zoom-Zoom” driving dynamics, and respective price points, they are far from being the budget choice.

In 1992, Kia was given the chance to make their own version of the 929. However, they took their marketing towards a different tack, as the 929 became the Potentia.

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‘Potentia’ is Latin for power, by the way. Clearly they meant the car to shuttle captains of industry. Mindless peons presumably need not inquire. The very first one off the line was given to Kim Jong-pil, a highly respected South Korean politician who became prime minister twice.^

When it was first launched in 1992, it came in a range of variants. Lesser variants got a 2.2-liter inline-four motor. The top of the line model, as seen at the picture above, got a 3.0-liter DOHC powerplant pumping out 200 horsepower, and other whizz-bang features besides. People like Kim Jong-pil opted for high end ones, and those were pricey.

A Korean businessman opted for one of those early top-spec ’92 models and brought it to the Philippines some years ago. After getting bored with it, he sold the car, and it went through a few hands. I saw it on OLX, took a look, and saw it didn’t run.  And I probably made an unwise financial decision soon afterwards.

Now the car is in the shop, awaiting much needed attention. I honestly could not have imagined owning a car like this. I didn’t know what a Kia Potentia was before seeing this car on the classifieds. I didn’t even know Mazda made a 929, for that matter. But since I like shit Korean cars, this would be a good project to tear my hair out from my skull with.

What are our goals for this project? We would like to get the Potentia running and enjoy it as a stock car. We think that finding parts for this thing is really gonna be a bitch. If we can’t bring it back to standard, well, this car is RWD, by the way. And an RX7 LSD will fit. And V8 1UZs seem to be cheaper than Honda B-series engines at the surplusans. You catch our drift?

But we’ll really try to keep this car stock. Prognosis on that direction is good as of the time I write this. Honestly, this Potentia looks to be in a relatively decent condition, except for the fact that it doesn’t run. With customer work and other builds ongoing, this will take time. Especially with the parts sourcing. We’ll update you with progress on this as soon as it develops.

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