PH Fleet: Mazda RX-8

Flat out up Ex-Muhle, I knew something was wrong. Something didn’t sound quite right. The response from the twin-rotor Wankel just wasn’t snappy enough. After a brilliant day of blatting around the Eifel with my liberated-from-the-insurance-compound RX-8, fitting my new rims and awesome Michelin Supersport tyres, this was to be the first lap of the ’ring in the Rex since May. But it would be the last for this car.

Fresh new Michelins barely got scrubbed in
Fresh new Michelins barely got scrubbed in
After cruising the short straight to Lauda Links and Bergwerk, while scanning all the gauges and dials for signs of a problem, I floored it a second time.

And the engine died.

The cries of a thousand forum experts echoed silently through the car as the mirrors filled with light blue smoke and the engine vibrated like a brick in a tumble-dryer. Somehow we were already bouncing over the grass and trying to stop. Within seconds the Mazda was parked behind a barrier and I was running down the safe side of the guardrail. No sign of oil or coolant on the floor or on the car itself. Upon returning to the car, I found the sudden stop had boiled it over.

The final indignity? Um, not pictured, thankfully
The final indignity? Um, not pictured, thankfully
After a chat with the safety team and a brief inspection of the car, it was decided to let me drive the wrong way down the hill at the end of the session. Luckily I’d gulped a whole bottle of 2-litre water recently, and still had half a bottle in the car. So the header tank was refilled, one way and another (use your imagination). Now I had a whole hour to reflect upon my options before I went back down the hill.

Firstly, remove engine, rebuild it, install it. This option could weigh in at less than a grand, but I’m not really capable of any of these things. I don’t have the time and I certainly don’t have the talent.

Second option would be to get a pro to do the above. Prices range from £1,250 for a 14-day warranty eBay motor to several thousand pounds for a guaranteed race motor from somewhere like Haywards or Rotechniks. I don’t have that much money, and I wouldn’t want to put myself in the same position again. Thinking that my motor is perfect, then watching the oil smoke appear on a bike-filled Nordschleife. No, never again.

Recovered, but going nowhere
Recovered, but going nowhere
Third option, break it, sell it, scrap it. I was emotional. This is the option that won. So when the time came, and my yellow-vested escort arrived, I cranked the motor over, safe in the knowledge I didn’t car how much additional damage I caused, and drove all the way down to the Adenau exit. The vibration through the firewall told half the story, the horrible exhaust note the other half. One chamber was dead, no doubt a rotor tip had separated. About half the power of a normal motor and massive imbalance directly related to crank speed.

Luckily for me my friend Jens has a crashed RX-8. It’s a no-expense-spared dedicated track day car, but he had an argument with barriers. Now it needs a front-end transplant. Well it’s got one.

A painful decision, but the right one.

From my initial investment of around £3,000, I have only a thousand. But using the rather nifty options drivetrain and power options of the new Pistonheads Classifieds, I think I’ve found myself another 200hp, rear-wheel drive ’ring-toy to replace the Mazda.

Now you can all say it: “I told you so.”

Car: 2004 Mazda RX-8
Run by: Dale Lomas
Bought: December 2011
Purchase price: £2.800
First month: Ignored the critics, bought a Wankel, made grand plansfor modification but secretly hoped the mod budget won’t be spent on a re-con motor...
This month: Blew the motor. Didn’t have the budget for a re-con motor, sold the whole thing as a wreck. Gutted.

Previous reports:
A lap of the 'ring on a BMW S1000RR reminds Dale why he really needs the Mazda back
It hasn't been a good month for Dale's Mazda...
Ordering pieces of paper to pass the German MOT
Dale makes a new RX-8 mate

PH fleet intro: Mazda RX-8


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Comments (234) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Coldfuse 30 Aug 2012

    Shame to see this, but i've always thought its only a matter of time with an RX-8laugh

  • ringweekends 30 Aug 2012

    Should have bought French.......

  • Hellbound 30 Aug 2012

    So you're getting into a BMW now? Good man.

    I agree with the comment above, it's only a matter of time with a rotary engine. I'd never buy one because I'd never be 100% comfortable knowing it could all go wrong at any point.

  • Podie 30 Aug 2012

    Is proof reading a lost art?

    article said:

  • MissChief 30 Aug 2012

    ringweekends said:
    Should have bought French.......
    Then the engine would have been fine but the electrics would have driven him crazy.

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