Rotary engine fans are an odd bunch, but boy, are they patient. Say “maybe in the next decade” to them and they’ll pass their time doing whatever the hell rotary fans do in their off hours until it’s finally time for a resurrection of the pistonless internal combustion engine.
Over at Mazda, it’s been a long wait. Rumors of a successor to the RX-8, which bit the dust in 2012, have circulated for years, but company brass have remained focused on new crossovers, more efficient Skyactiv engines, and, more recently, electrification. And yet the automaker refuses to close the door on a rotary revival, keeping hope alive for those waiting for a new RX- product.
This latest patent from Mazda should tide them over.
My friends, I spoke to you last week about the dangers of freedom-hating wackadoodles who want to take away your right to own and drive your own car. Some of you agreed with me, others didn’t. Such is the nature of an op-ed. I was pleased to see that only a couple of you tried to no-platform me — either I’m getting less offensive in my old age or you’re getting more tolerant, and both of those are good things.
But today I am here to warn you of a more subtle threat to your driving-related joy, and it’s coming from a rather unsuspected source — the very manufacturers of the cars we love so much. Well, no, that’s not exactly right. It’s actually coming from you. The economic factors presented by the buying behavior of the general public are eventually going to make it impossible for automakers to deliver the cars that enthusiasts want to buy.
I’m not just talking about silly “Save the Manuals” nonsense. I’m talking about being able to buy a lightweight car. I’m talking about buying a car that will allow you to get yourself into trouble without kicking in the traction control. They won’t be dead — at least, not yet. But there’s no denying that cheap, fun cars are very, very close to being a thing of the past.
I own a Ford Flex. It’s true. Well, technically, Ford Credit owns it, but I’m only 12 months or so away from getting the real title in my hands. I’m constantly being told by people — hell, even by commenters on this website — that the Flex is a great car, but that people just don’t seem to like it. Of course, since I bought one, I completely disagree.
The Flex is just one example of a car that people who fill up comment sections of automotive websites seem to love but never buy for themselves. The list of such automobiles is quite long: The Pontiac G8. The Mazda RX-8. The Fiesta ST — wait a second, what the hell is going on here, I’ve owned all of these!
Just what is it that makes a car popular with enthusiasts but unpopular with the general public?
Just about every kind of vehicle shows up at the low-priced, high-inventory-turnover self-service wrecking yards, sooner or later. It took until the late 2000s before I started seeing Mazda Miatas in such yards, and now it appears that the advance scouts for a steady flow of RX-8 s are here. I saw this silver ’04 at the same Denver-area yard that gave us the biohazardous 2009 Kia Rondo.
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.
It’s the perfect day and the perfect road for a brisk mountain drive in the siena red Z3. For the last time this year it’s easily warm enough to put the top down—in a little over a week the remnants of Hurricane Sandy will bury the area in snow. WV15 winds tightly along a mountain ridge, flanked on each side by peaking fall foliage. Valleys far below on each side, you’re on top of the world. There’s only one problem with this soul stirring picture: my father started the day closer to Cass, and the BMW is holding me up. With the next brief straight I snick the firm, short-throw shifter into third, spur the boxer well over 4,000 rpm, and roar past him. WV15 is an even better road for a Scion FR-S en route to meet up with a pair of Mazda RX-8s for our Third Annual Appalachian Road Trip.
When Hurricane Irene hit New York last August, it caught the entire Northeast off its game. Natural disasters are anathema to the bustling lifestyle of a city, and an abeyance to the flowing blood and tears on which it runs. Public transportation grinds to a halt. Supermarkets are depleted of supplies just as quickly as they are flooded by frantic consumers. Cabin fever hits apartment-dwellers staggeringly hard, creating microcosms of Stockholm syndrome in between the floorboards.
With fall foliage peaking, it’s time for my third annual Appalachian Road Trip. Last year my friend and his father couldn’t make it, so it was just the old man and me. With fewer time constraints, I planned a route from West Virginia to “The Dragon” and back. Lessons were learned, among them the insanity of planning 360 miles of back roads driving in a day that also includes a few hours of hiking (my new max: 250) and, the subject of this piece, the inability of navigation systems to replace good old paper maps.
The rotary engine and Mazda have had a tumultuus, on-and-off relationship that rivals an Old Hollywood marriage. Market conditions and government regulations have made mass production of the rotary a constant challenge, and the death of the Mazda RX-8 looked like the final nail in the Wankel’s coffin.
Way back in December, I flew out into LAX to meet up with fellow 24 Hours of LeMons Supreme Court Justice Jonny Lieberman, so that we could jump into a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and drive it to the Skankaway Anti-Toe-Fungal 500 race 450 miles to the north. I’d been hearing all about the magical basement full of crazy Japanese-market cars beneath Mazda USA headquarters in Irvine, so I talked Mazda engineer and superstar LeMons racer Dave Coleman into giving me the tour. But how to get from LAX to my destination many miles behind the Orange Curtain? “Coleman!” I barked, “Get me an RX-8 press car, pronto!” So, he did. Now, six months later, here comes your Better Late Than Never Review of a car that, regrettably, is no longer being built.
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- ToolGuy Well the faithful 2010 RAV4 has new headlamp assemblies installed as of yesterday (ordered them a year ago and put it off until now). Have to remove the entire front fascia *and* remove part of the radiator support to change the headlamps. Ordered new side brackets and clips since the thing is pretty much designed to go together once (it comes apart when it comes apart, is what I'm saying), so we'll get to hop back in there when those show up later this week. (Alternative is to have the wrong gap at the fascia/fender interface and you know we can't have that.)Just crossed 150K mileage, engine is strong, no signs of transmission trouble. Spouse is pushing for an EV (or a Jeep, but I ignore that Jeep part). Michelins are performing well. Very high likelihood that this particular Toyota will be replaced with a non-Toyota, maybe 2 years from now.Oh, no one cares. 🙂
- Parkave231 Needs moar grille!
- SCE to AUX Give them everything they want, including the moon. Let the UAW determine how long they want to keep their jobs.
- Arthur Dailey If I were a UAW leader I would focus more on political policy, such as requirements for North American content. Work harder at organizing non D3 auto plants. Try to win public support and increase union density/membership. But political unionism is not popular in the USA. Instead the focus is often on short term monetary gains.
- Peter 20% raise to make up for the post-Covid inflation. 3% a year for the length of this contract estimated future inflation.Nothing for retired workers (It’s not the Automakers fault that the Union has stolen your money. Go talk to the 2 guys sitting in Jail)