Piston Slap: A Car So Nice I Wanna Buy It Twice!

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap a car so nice i wanna buy it twice

TTAC Commentator NotAPreppie writes:

Hey Sajeev … or Sanjeev … I’m not feeling picky,

Am I insane for considering buying the same Mazda RX-8 twice? Alternate title: A car so nice I want to buy it twice. (Thanks for that – SM)

Backstory: Three years ago, I sold my daily driver and autocross car (2005 Mazda RX-8 Sport) to a car club buddy when living and going to school near downtown Chicago meant that it sat in a parking garage for months on end (physical chemistry was intense). I graduated and got a job a year ago and bought a new autocross toy: a 1995 Miata, now with 70k miles.

The Miata has turned out to be something of a mongrel. Anywhere fluids can leak, they have. Not having a garage to wrench on the car myself, it’s nickel-and-diming me to death. Also, I’ve discovered that while it’s a Great Car™ during the 60 seconds of an average autocross run, it’s pretty awful to live with day to day. Maybe if I didn’t live in a major metropolitan area, I’d see the appeal of a soft top. To add insult to injury, I think it aggravates my sciatica.

Fast forward to last weekend: I ran into my old ‘8 and her current owner at an autocross event (I swear I did a triple-take when I walked past her on the grid). The owner was making noises about selling it. He’d tried last November, lowering the price to $6,500 before giving up and deciding to hang onto it. It’s got 48,000 miles and is still on the original engine (which shows none of the usual symptoms of low compression, compression check will be requested) and is in exactly the same condition as when it left my hands (actually in better shape, mechanically speaking).

So… am I insane for wanting to buy my ‘8 back?

Sajeev answers:

Yes you are insane. That said, who cares?

There’s something very touching about getting back the car you once owned. You are a different dude, what with your new life outside of school. And you obviously love it — you’re a Mazda nut, you’ll enjoy having it back. That said…

The second-generation RX-8 is so, so much better from a long-term ownership perspective. The R3 version is a better track car, even if the ride is punishing. Don’t take my word for it, take Jonny Lieberman’s word back when he was a (relative) nobody here at TTAC. Even though I like the front end of the original Mazda RX-8 better, you owe it to yourself to consider a later model.

[Image: Shutterstock user cleanfotos]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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  • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on Oct 08, 2015

    I swapped my '84 Jetta GLI back and forth with my best friend for eons. We would each keep it for a couple years until we got bored and sold it to the other. Usually for a nominal sum. So I can totally see doing this, assuming you have a place to keep it and ideally something else as a daily driver. Though the thought of replacing the engine every 100K doesn't really scare me that much, given that is ~20 years of driving for any one of my cars. :-)

  • VolandoBajo VolandoBajo on Oct 09, 2015

    If I could find another 88 Thunderbird with the 302 V8 and the AOD transmission, in metallic silver, moonroof, dark blue leather interior, and the aluminum billet wheels I had to lean on the dealer to swap in, I would buy it in a heartbeat. I got over a quarter of a million miles of fun out of that car in under a decade, before I had to sell it. Had to choose between supporting it, or supporting my then new wife and child. I made the right decision, but would love to have one back. Sometimes I fantasize that FoMoCo would have a giant 3D printer, where, for the price of the original, one could order up an exact replica of an earlier offering. I would buy another one of those Birds, just as it was the day I drove it off the dealer's lot (minus the Eagle GT's and plus the Sumitomos for half the price and twice the traction). That car even trumped the Mk II Jaguar I once owned. In fact, if I hadn't been so in love with my then and now wife, I wouldn't even have been in a position to have had to choose between her and the car. But she is one in a hundred million. When we had been dating for about six weeks, I found out that she had driven it when her hooptie died for the nth time, without telling me while I was on the road for a project I was doing. Any other woman, I would have figured I couldn't trust her, and would have x'd her off...her, I just told her that if she had asked, I would have told her yes, but made sure she knew how to care for it. I realized I was already all in at that point. It had snuck up on me, but there was no turning back. I had been enjoying my new freedom for several years after my divorce, but I knew then that those days were behind me. Still, I loved that car then, and would love to have it back again. Even if it had a 100K +/- on it. But not enough to have remained a so-called "free born man of the USA" (a Wire reference for those who don't know it.) But that was a tough day, when I had to let the most enjoyable car I had ever owned go. Especially since the early years of our marriage were good overall, but had their downs as well as their ups. But today, my only regret is that I didn't make even more money than I did, so I could have swung both deals back in the mid-90's. That configuration of the 88 Thunderbird deserves to be on a list of all time great Fords, along with the Model A (only for historical reasons), the T bucket (only because it made a good hotrod), the 32 Ford three window coupe, the 40 Ford, something from the 50's and from the 60's (you pick 'em), a few more modern ones, and I'm sure, the new GT350. If I had the kind of money Jay Leno has, I'd have all of them in my collection. But if not, I would still have that 88 Bird again, if, and it is a big IF, if you could "go home again". And while I respect some of the authors who rave about the Miata being the answer to any question, in my mind, it is even the answer to "what is an under-powered, over-rated money pit?", especially the first incarnations. But damn, no you have me jonesing for another Thunderbird...not a prudent use of my retirement time and money, but I would love to have it anyway. Unfortunately for me, my son's auto taste runs more towards the high performance version of the Tesla. But if I was his age, mine probably would also. Still, that was one sweet matchup of comfort and roadworthiness in the Bird.

  • FreedMike This article fails to mention that Toyota is also investing heavily in solid state battery tech - which would solve a lot of inherent EV problems - and plans to deploy it soon. https://insideevs.com/news/598046/toyota-global-leader-solid-state-batery-patents/Of course, Toyota being Toyota, it will use the tech in hybrids first, which is smart - that will give them the chance to iron out the wrinkles, so to speak. But having said that, I’m with Toyota here - I’m not sold on an all EV future happening anytime soon. But clearly the market share for these vehicles has nowhere to go but up; how far up depends mainly on charging availability. And whether Toyota’s competitors are all in is debatable. Plenty of bet-hedging is going on among makers in the North American market.
  • Jeff S I am not against EVs but I completely understand Toyota's position. As for Greenpeace putting Toyota at the bottom of their environmental list is more drama. A good hybrid uses less gas, is cleaner than most other ICE, and is more affordable than most EVs. Prius has proven longevity and low maintenance cost. Having had a hybrid Maverick since April and averaging 40 to 50 mpg in city driving it has been smooth driving and very economical. Ford also has very good hybrids and some of the earlier Escapes are still going strong at 300k miles. The only thing I would have liked in my hybrid Maverick would be a plug in but it didn't come with it. If Toyota made a plug in hybrid compact pickup like the Maverick it would sell well. I would consider an EV in the future but price, battery technology, and infrastructure has to advance and improve. I don't buy a vehicle based on the recommendation of Greenpeace, as a status symbol, or peer pressure. I buy a vehicle on what best needs my needs and that I actually like.
  • Mobes Kind of a weird thing that probably only bothers me, but when you see someone driving a car with ball joints clearly about to fail. I really don't want to be around a car with massive negative camber that's not intentional.
  • Jeff S How reliable are Audi? Seems the Mazda, CRV, and Rav4 in the higher trim would not only be a better value but would be more reliable in the long term. Interior wise and the overall package the Mazda would be the best choice.
  • Pickles69 They have a point. All things (or engines/propulsion) to all people. Yet, when the analogy of being, “a department store,” of options is used, I shudder. Department stores are failing faster than any other retail. Just something to chew on.
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