Future Classics

MAZDA RX8

Description

The RX8 is the successor to the RX7 and, like its predecessors in the RX range, it is powered by a Wankel engine. The car was released in 2003 and sold until 2012. It is a proper 4 seater even though it looks like a coupe and features a unique "invisible" rear door.

Engine: Wankel Rotary, 1.3 litre. Power: 192 or 231 bhp Torque: 146 ft-lb
Performance: 0-60, 7 seconds (192), 6 seconds (231) Top speed 146mph (231)

Prices: Many cars avilable for £500+ with hot starting issues
A pristine example with 50k miles £2000+ (get a guarantee of engine Compression with top price cars)

Headline stats

Maximum # of Registrations = 23468
Latest # of Registrations = 11815

Our Verdict

The RX8 is proving to be a rather difficult car to make a call on regarding its future classic status. For starters the rotary engine, that Mazda have been doggedly persisting with through out much of the RX series, is the main conundrum as it is now the only rotary engine fitted to a production car and thus gives the RX8 a unique place in the automotive world. At the same time it also causes a world of worry to anyone considering buying a second hand example (more on that later).
Secondly there is the design of the car itself, with its innovative suicide rear doors which make it a genuinely practical 4 seater sports car. On the flip side, its quirky styling is quite a departure from the RX7's dramatic, and certainly to my eyes, very pleasing aesthetics, which help to give the car much greater presence than the RX8(in its last incarnation).
For Mazda though, giving the RX8 four doors was a huge commercial success, with cars flying out of the showrooms as buyers jumped at the possibility of having a practical sports car. That of course means that there are plenty on the second hand market, and as we all know rarity not plenitude maketh a classic.
And it is here that we come to the great elephant in the room.... Let me explain by saying that the RX8's position as an everyday car proved to be its Achilles heal, the truth is that the rotary engine is far from being an everyday engine, its a specialised piece of kit that needs to be treated as such. Things like making sure it is at full running temperature before revving hard and most crucially, before turning off, meaning that short runs to the shop or taking the kids to school were ruinous for the engine. But that is just what everyday cars are used for, and now the small ads are awash with RX8's that have the dreaded hot starting issue, which basically means the engine has lost all compression and a full rebuild is needed. The up shot of all this is that there are many examples out there that can be pick up for £500 odd, even ones with 50-60k miles as sadly, if used as a run around, thats what will happen.

There are companies out there offering rebuilt engines for as little as £1000 but I can't vouch for the quality of these units, so buying one with a shot engine is something that needs to be given a lot of consideration as the costs of sorting it will be considerable.

Of course the rotary engine can go for many miles if treated correctly and there are plenty of healthy examples out there. My advice if you are looking to buy one is ask a lot of questions of the seller and try to work out if they are an enthusiast, and ask them what sort of driving they did in the car. But the foremost thing to demand if paying top dollar for one is a compression test report from a garage that knows what it is doing.

As with all cars, doing plenty of research before hand is everything.

Future Classics Rating

60%
Source: Car and Driver