OhhShift New Reader
Nov. 20, 2010 12:48 p.m.

Looking to acquire an RX8 over the winter for track days and as a dd next year. Had an '87 RX7 in college and loved it!! Not the most powerful car by any means, but ALWAYS put a smile on my face. I had it from 130k miles to 160k miles and had zero mechanical issues with it, which was kind surprising. I sold it to pay for another semester of college (I still weep) and it is now redemption time. I am looking for something that will help me hone the skills to a mad level, while not breaking the bank. Looking to spend around $10k so it looks like I am in the 2005ish year for the RX8. Handling, braking, and overall balance of the car is more important that all out power. Need a back seat for the kids and want rwd and a manual.

After being witness to the VAST amounts of knowledge on this forum, I thought I would throw this out there for some input. I am interested in the following:

  1. What year? (better, worse? I was thinking ~2005 based on what I want to spend)

  2. What mechanical gremlins do I need to look for? I am familiar with the engine warranty, should I get one that has just been replaced, or buy one that has not, run it hard, and have it replaced when it goes south? Any hiccups regarding that warranty that I should be aware of?

  3. What other car should I be considering? Don't want a pony/muscle car right now. I am worried about the maintenance cost for a German, and I pretend to be a professional during the day, so I can't have something that looks completely fanboy/moronish/mulletardish. Also, being in the Midwest, don't want anything much older than 5 or 6 years as rust has set in hard on most everything older than that here.

Thoughts?

AutoXR Reader
Nov. 20, 2010 1:04 p.m.

I was just going to post the same question - I am going to look at an 06GT this week. I keep coming back to the RX8. I have had WRX and STi company cars - my current Daily is an SiR civic with a B series.

my B16 def. uses more oil then the Rotary :) LOL

Rufledt Reader
Nov. 20, 2010 2:23 p.m.

the series 1's have a number of gremlins, not at all impossible to fix- the stock coils/wires suck and need to be replaced about every 30K, or you can get a set from a BHR that uses GM coils and it lasts forever, also there are fuel pump issues (fixed on series 2 2009+) where low fuel levels in the tank or lots of ragging it turns into a lack of enough fuel. BHR offers a fuel pump replacement that drops right in and fixes that problem. Neither thing gives any additional power, unless the coils are worn out, then it just returns it to stock. Also, a number of people have cat problems, and there are some replacements for that too. Also there are soem tranny issues, but if it doesn't grind then it's ok.

Rufledt Reader
Nov. 20, 2010 2:26 p.m.

oh yeah and the clutch pedal bracket is kinda flimsy metal with a spot weld, and it fails and starts making creaking noises. Again, BHR has replacements that are welded up the wazoo, and have yet to fail.

Oh and RX8's are hella fun. They won't win drag races, but who cares? And you can fit adults in the back seat. It's no 7series BMW but i haven't had anybody who wasn't shocked how much room they had in the back of such a small car.

bluesideup Reader
Nov. 20, 2010 2:27 p.m.

The RX8 problems to look for are failing ignition coils and clogged cats. There are fixes for both though. Like any performance car also check for a crunchy transmission and vibrations. One rx8 I looked at had a lot of vibration transmitted through the shifter. Modified magazine has been doing a build up on one for a few issues.

Rufledt Reader
Nov. 20, 2010 2:32 p.m.

Just saw you were from the midwest (i should really read more carefully!) I saw one guy who removed the rear bumper to find hidden rust on a salt-belt Rx8, so maybe do some looking around underneath before buying? And if you go to RX8club, dont be disuaded by all of the tools who answer every question with "duhh.. you should use search.. I'm so cool" They are the same people who have their mod list (including turbos) and E.T. times and burn out pics in their signatures and post things like "ZOMG my engine blew?! what happened? How come mazda won't replace it under warranty?!"

forzav12 Reader
Nov. 20, 2010 6:45 p.m.

Just anything resembling power and aesthetics. Other than that, a nice platform.

speedblind Reader
Nov. 20, 2010 9:35 p.m.

Okay, so I'll be the first jerkoff to post and not answer any of your questions.

E36 M3. 10k will get you a good car with a great suspension, wheel/tire setup, etc. Much better DD/track toy than an RX-8. Well-built cars won't rust after 5 yrs. The Germans were way ahead of the Japanese and domestics when it came to rust proofing. You'll get mixed responses on the maintenance of these cars, with some folks claiming they pay a car payment or two every month in maintenance, and others that claim it's free. The truth is somewhere in between - spend more on a good, well-kept car and you'll be fine. Buy a $6k junker and expect to pay for it.

AutoXR HalfDork
Nov. 20, 2010 10:33 p.m.

I had en E36 M3 , they seem to be placed on a pedestal as the greatest cars ever by those who have never owned them. I can tell you from extensive experience that a Legacy GT 5spd is not only faster, but with sway bars and good tires is just as capable if not more so.

As for rust.. Huh? The newest M3 is still nearly 12 years old. It's foolish to think that automotive technology hit it's height in 1999.

Most cars these days have decade long rust warranties.

Some of you guys need to get out and drive some different cars. I have had WRX's , STI's, forest XT's , E36 M3 , Mini's ..more cars then I care to remember and I can tell you that no one really stands out as the be all end all.

exST165 New Reader
Nov. 20, 2010 10:40 p.m.

Not to highjack your threat but I recently sat in an RX-8 at a used car lot and got out disappointed. I barely had enough headroom with the sunroof and found it very cramped. I know I carry a lot of my height in my torso and have always had problems with headroom, but I can't imagine fitting in an RX-8 with a helmet even with a racing seat bolted down as low as it can go.

I ended up buying a '02 WRX instead. Yes it is very boy-racer-ish, but it has four real doors and the best seating position I have ever enjoyed.

Rufledt Reader
Nov. 20, 2010 11:29 p.m.
exST165 wrote: Not to highjack your threat but I recently sat in an RX-8 at a used car lot and got out disappointed. I barely had enough headroom with the sunroof and found it very cramped. I know I carry a lot of my height in my torso and have always had problems with headroom, but I can't imagine fitting in an RX-8 with a helmet even with a racing seat bolted down as low as it can go. I ended up buying a '02 WRX instead. Yes it is very boy-racer-ish, but it has four real doors and the best seating position I have ever enjoyed.

I am personally just under 6', with more hight proportionally in my legs, and I would fit with a helmet and roll cage, but it certainly ain't no cathedral in there. They didn't waste any space with headroom for sure. to the OP: how tall are you? My car doesn't have a sunroof, so I might have more space inside. I would add, however, that it feels tighter than it really is. If i stick my hand up there, i feel lots of room. I also have an R3 which has different seats than a series 1, so I may be just wasting your time with my input.

oh and mine is an '09 and does have a LONG corrosion warranty. i haven't seen any RX8's other than that one on the forum that had any rust, but if it is ANYTHING like all of the other RX's, then you can count on it comming soon. Of course, much of this car is aluminum, but not the important bits...

Rufledt Reader
Nov. 20, 2010 11:38 p.m.

In reply to forzav12:

Hey now, some of us like the, uh, quirky looks.

And if you do get an '04-'08, there are plenty of turbo kits, i think the one with the highest power hits 410 WHP, but how long the apex seals will last is another question entirely. And yes, FI or nitrous is about the only way to make any noticable power.

One more quirk- if you hear something rattling (or sounding like detonation) starting and increasing with RPM after 7k or so, it's not detonation. Mazda knows how to fix it, but they don't tell the mechanics unless they call up headquarters to ask about it, so have fun with that. It's not a dangerous noise, however.

ptmeyer84 New Reader
Nov. 21, 2010 10:16 a.m.

I am definitely watching this thread. I have an unhealthy lust for a track rat RX-8 that I can not rationalize. Has GRM ever done a buying guide or a project car on the RX-8?

But I am also drooling over a S54 powered M Coupe.

Ahh, what the hell, maybe in a few years I will just buy both.

Javelin SuperDork
Nov. 21, 2010 10:23 a.m.

On the height issue, the "base" seats (cloth) are lower and the hardtop cars have at least 1.5" more headroom (the sunroof cars have a dropped-down headliner). I couldn't wear my helmet in a leather sunroof car at all, but fit no problem in a cloth hardtop.

Nov. 21, 2010 10:52 a.m.
AutoXR wrote: I had en E36 M3 , they seem to be placed on a pedestal as the greatest cars ever by those who have never owned them. I can tell you from extensive experience that a Legacy GT 5spd is not only faster, but with sway bars and good tires is just as capable if not more so.

Capable of what?

An E36 has sat atop podiums in everything from amateur club racing to DTM to D1 consistently for almost 20yrs. It is fast, capable, versatile and successful. A new Legacy GT might be a better car. It has a lot of catching up to do in terms of proving it.

speedblind Reader
Nov. 21, 2010 11:33 a.m.
AutoXR wrote: I had en E36 M3 , they seem to be placed on a pedestal as the greatest cars ever by those who have never owned them. I can tell you from extensive experience that a Legacy GT 5spd is not only faster, but with sway bars and good tires is just as capable if not more so. As for rust.. Huh? The newest M3 is still nearly 12 years old. It's foolish to think that automotive technology hit it's height in 1999. Most cars these days have decade long rust warranties. Some of you guys need to get out and drive some different cars. I have had WRX's , STI's, forest XT's , E36 M3 , Mini's ..more cars then I care to remember and I can tell you that no one really stands out as the be all end all.

You're the first person I've ever known to put a Legacy GT above an E36 M3, but you're entitled to your opinion. One question - is this the newer 2.5L turbo version that came out after the WRX? As for the other cars you've listed, try finding one under 10k - that's what we're playing with, and with that budget the M3 is a pretty clear winner. Let's take a look:

WRX - able to find one for 10k-ish and a bit under, but will need a lot of sorting to get right. My WRX was an understeering little piggy until I put a decent suspension/swaybars on it.

STI - too expensive

MINI - great cars, handle well, they actually manage to be less useful daily than an RX-8. Find one for 10k with the supercharged engine and zero reliability issues?

Forester XT - No idea on these, other than they'll need even more attention than a WRX to get to handle right

...and this coming from someone who's owned a WRX, S2000, several BMWs, GTI, etc. For 10k as a dual-purpose car, you'd be hard pressed to go wrong with the BMW.

As for rust prevention, if you put 10 mid-90s German cars (VW, MB, BMW, etc.) against 10 mid-90s Asian/Domestic cars from the same area/road conditions, you'll find less intrusive rust on the Germans. Will there be some cars with rust? Sure. But the Germans tend to hold together better.

And I will admit that I've never owned an RX-8, but I had a friend that did. Horrible oil consumption, poor gas mileage, a tiny (smaller than my S2000!) trunk, etc. If it's a car you absolutely have to have, go for it.

ZOO Dork
Nov. 21, 2010 1:02 p.m.

I have an E36 M3 as my DD. I almost bought an RX8 instead. I would have been happy with either, as both made me smile as much as my Miata. In the end the M3 was cheaper.

Both epitomize balance -- although the extra torque of the S52 makes up for many mistakes

That is all.

JohnGalt Reader
Nov. 21, 2010 1:27 p.m.

I have had mine since 07 it is a series 1 (05' car) and the only problem i have had is a faulty gas cap (replaced by Mazda) and a radiator end tank sensor that went bad and would constantly tell me my coolant was low. Wonderful cars with not much torque but you get 9.5K rpms and a nice 6 speed to make up for that. I have not had to replace the coil packs yet and its got 60k on it and i get about 21-22mpg with mixed driving. On long trips i keep it over 75mph and i get 24 mpg. I do have the cloth seats (which are excellent) sans sun roof so i fit quite nicely even with a helmet on however i am only 5' 11".

I just recently but some progress brand springs and Tokico d specs under it and when set on full hard the car becomes scary sharp but still very neutral.

Rufledt Reader
Nov. 21, 2010 11:06 p.m.

In reply to JohnGalt:

I wish i got that kind of mileage with mine! I used to get low 20's hwy when i was still in the midwest with the long straight roads and not much traffic, but this stop and go city stuff (with 5 minute long red lights every 200 yards) has my mileage down around 14. Still worlds better than my old van which struggles to break 10. That van burns more oil, too.

amg_rx7 HalfDork
Nov. 21, 2010 11:47 p.m.
JohnGalt wrote: I have had mine since 07 it is a series 1 (05' car) and the only problem i have had is a faulty gas cap (replaced by Mazda) and a radiator end tank sensor that went bad and would constantly tell me my coolant was low. Wonderful cars with not much torque but you get 9.5K rpms and a nice 6 speed to make up for that. I have not had to replace the coil packs yet and its got 60k on it and i get about 21-22mpg with mixed driving. On long trips i keep it over 75mph and i get 24 mpg. I do have the cloth seats (which are excellent) sans sun roof so i fit quite nicely even with a helmet on however i am only 5' 11". I just recently but some progress brand springs and Tokico d specs under it and when set on full hard the car becomes scary sharp but still very neutral.

This matches the reviews of my track buddies with RX8s. I have an RX7.

I've done the e36 BMW thing. Too much maintenance - new coolant system by 80k miles, coil issues, ECU issues, bushing issues, the need to buy expensive special tools for things like changing an 02 sensor...

Give me the RX8 with its proper dual race car style dual A-arm suspension, tossable handling, fun, reliable engine, nice gear box etc.

Buy the best one you can find in your budget. Look for a non-sunroof, cloth seat car if you want to do track days. Mods don't necessarily make it better as you can't always trust that they were good mods and properly installed.

Brett_Murphy Reader
Nov. 22, 2010 4:45 p.m.

In reply to OhhShift: I was looking into one myself, and I asked a friend who has one for some insider information. Here is what I got back:

You should check to see if the doors seal together properly at the b-pillar joint. It is a good way to see if any bodywork was done. Also, look for condensation in the brake lights. There's a tech bulletin about that.

The sport (base) model is available without DSC or traction control. I don't think you can opt out of them on the GT models.

The front splitter on the aero kit might be functional, but the spoiler is crap. I heard a rumor that Euro-spec RX-8s have a different spoiler that reduces drag and increase MPG on the highway by 1. I've not looked into it.

JohnGalt Reader
Nov. 22, 2010 5:42 p.m.
Rufledt wrote: In reply to JohnGalt: I wish i got that kind of mileage with mine! I used to get low 20's hwy when i was still in the midwest with the long straight roads and not much traffic, but this stop and go city stuff (with 5 minute long red lights every 200 yards) has my mileage down around 14. Still worlds better than my old van which struggles to break 10. That van burns more oil, too.

In stop and go in town traffic i get about 18mpg. I have been told that my car gets slightly better than most though so it may just be a fluke or something. It is the most basic model that can be had, no power seats, no sun roof, cloth everything, ect. so its the lightest and I run a K&N filter (maybe good for one or two mpg) and i did change my plugs at 50K (which was recommended) maybe that coupled with my driving style and Ga. gas might result in better millage.

And the 24mpg is only on 2Hr+ highway trips.

The best way to pull some power of an RX8 without FI is a K&N drop in with the two baffles in the air box removed, a racing beat cat-less mid pipe, and the exhaust of your choice (make mine a single sided HKS hi power for extra weight savings). Probably the most important is the Cobb AP re-flasher and some dyno time. The Cobb AP is the best way to tune an RX8 and can be used for FI applications if you want to go that way. They make a header for the RX8 but they are pricey and i have no clue if they are worth it.

irish44j HalfDork
Nov. 22, 2010 9:56 p.m.
OhhShift wrote: RX8 as track toy/dd- RX8 as track toy/dd- What am I missing?

the answer you are looking for is "torque."

sorry, I couldn't resist

Rufledt Reader
Nov. 22, 2010 10:58 p.m.
irish44j wrote:
OhhShift wrote: RX8 as track toy/dd- RX8 as track toy/dd- What am I missing?
the answer you are looking for is "torque." sorry, I couldn't resist

Hey now! The Rx8 has torque! I just can't find it is all... I think it escaped... at the factory probobly...

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