2005 RX-8

After an 8 year hiatus from driving rotary vehicles, it was time for my old Jeep to go and my wife suggested I get an RX-8. I test drove one in 2004 and thought it was spectacular. Well, now I've got one.:)

Mazda updated the warranty on these to 100,000 miles for the engine internals, so for now I can't really mess with the power. I can say that the car would benefit from about 100 more horsepower, if it could be delivered in such a way as to still be streetable. As it is, at 235-ish HP it is no slouch and I would handily take on most other street cars in it.

When I got the thing, it was in very good shape but a little lackluster.

Note the stock everything. Well, it did have the factory aero package. This car was ordered as an oddity - as far as I can tell, the original buyer wanted a Sport model but not the stability control. So he ordered a base model and added most of the Sport options - leather, aero kit... and left out some of the better ones such as HID lights and seat heaters.So I started with appearance mods - clear corner lights, LED lighting in the interior (all white), some LED lighting outside, clear LED third brake light, powdercoated wheels, window tint, OEM fog lights. So that brings us here:After this pic was taken I installed turbulators on the rear window. Not sure they do anything, but they do look neat. Then I started my journey towards HID headlights. For those who don't know the difference, it is night and day (ha!) between regular incandescents and high-intensity discharge. First I tried a cheap H7 bulb kit (already had ignitors from my Jeep) and wow did that suck. You see, in an incandescent bulb the light source is a coil of wire (the filament) which is strung in one direction inside the glass. Knowing the dimensions and location of the filament, one can engineer a highly efficient reflector for it. However, change the light source, and that reflector isn't so efficient any more. HID bulbs use a little pocket of plasma to create the light, and it is in a different shape and location as well has having some undesirable edge reflections (the rainbow effect). Basically this meant I needed a new reflector and mask, which I finally found. Some surgery on the headlights, and I had my OEM HIDs for less than the $1120 it would have cost from Mazda. Incandescent on the right, HID on left. My next odyssey would be to have the rear defroster fixed. This was a known issue when I bought the car, so no big deal I thought. I've fixed broken copper lines before. Well, someone had pulled tint off the rear window without wetting it - and in the process removed the entire defroster grid. So I found a rear window in a junkyard, and got Safelite to install it. The installer left two deep scratches in the rear of the car, messed up the window install, and messed up the headliner. After three weeks of the body shop having the car, the entire rear end had been repainted, new headliner, and they had a specialist come and install the window. I understand that shops / mechanics make mistakes, and props to Safelite for handling this professionally. However, people screwing up simple jobs has turned into a nightmare on this car, from Pep Boys having to repair and repowdercoat a wheel for a simple TPMS sensor change to State Farm and a local body shop... well, let's just say the accident wasn't my fault, and both her insurance and the body shop tried to screw me pretty hard. That story requires a few shots of scotch to tell properly, so I will not repeat it here.So I finally got to autocross the thing.

How fun is that? Well, it's pretty fun, even on mediocre all-season tires and completely bone stock suspension. Here on my home turf I'm consistently placing 2nd to another RX-8 that has slicks, or a Nissan 370Z with 100 more HP. I'm only 1/10sec behind the Nissan, and about a half second off the guy with the slicks, so I'm pretty happy with that. No chance of me getting either the additional ponies or the slicks at this time...I can't wait to get this on the track. This is the tightest, tautest road car I've ever driven that wasn't rattly as hell and uncomfortable. Yet, the car has the tossability of the old first gen SA22C RX7s - it likes to corner with the back end steered by throttle. I think with proper changes to the steering max angle, it would be a killer drift car.