Finding affordable cool cars is about how much patience you have and how much trouble you’re willing to deal with. One might think years of wrenching and fixing various heaps would wear a person down, but the experience often has quite the opposite effect. The deeper enthusiasts dive into their automotive passions, the more they’re willing to put up with and invest in various fun cars’ known problems. At least when it comes to DIY maintenance. Throwing money at the good ol’ Mazda RX-8 is a perfect example.
I’m kind of the poster child of this mantra with my old Land Rover Discovery, and my simple strategy has worked. Though Discos are known to have issues, the key is to get in for not much money, maintain a deeply entrenched fear of breaking down so you do everything you can to keep it reliable, and then relish in the fact that you’re having a ton of fun behind the wheel for cheap.
It seems like the route to optimal and cheap RX-8 ownership is similar: Buy one with known issues for ultra-cheap. It seems like non-runners can range anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the condition of the rest of the car. These could be great deals, especially considering a running example sporting a power plant in unknown condition seems to fetch around $5,000-plus these days. YouTuber and rotary aficionado Rob Dahm demonstrates this perfectly with a video he recently published on his channel:
The comment sections of RX-8 content are volatile, to say the least. We’ve all seen the damning apex seals, the deep hatred for the RX-8’s Discovery-like fuel economy, and the remarks about all of their other seal problems. The latter is the issue of focus in the video above.
Apparently, all that was wrong with this little Renesis 13B was a water seal that popped and was leaking coolant inside the engine. Rob demonstrates that because these engines are so mechanically simple and small, that they’re easy to pull, crack open, and see what’s raining on your brap-filled parade. There are some special strategies for doing so, but otherwise, it’s nothing an amateur working in the garage with a decent variety of tools couldn’t do.
This is all to say that there are still cheap RX-8s out there that are ripe for the pickin’. There are still people who don’t want to pay someone to swap the worn or broken Renesis out of their otherwise clean, rear-wheel drive, thrilling sports cars.
And they are indeed thrilling. I don’t care what kind of hate they get, anyone who’s ever given one a proper romp can attest to its raucous engine tone, decent power, great inputs, and brilliant chassis.
If you buy one that has known issues, there will be two available routes to take. You can remove the engine, crack it open, see what’s up, and either rebuild and re-seal it, or you could just buy a professionally redone engine that’s as good as new.
Check out the video above and consider scoping out some potential on Craigslist. A ton of fun can be had in something that’s cost $7,000 or less, net. In fact, go ahead and check out how the story continues, too: