How To Build a Custom Mazda RX-8

Although production stopped in 2012, you can upgrade your Mazda RX-8 with aftermarket additions to customize this unusual sports car
Written by Mary Alice Morris
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Eccentric. Offbeat. A little unconventional. These are all apt descriptions of the
Mazda RX-8
, which had a good run from 2002 until it was discontinued in 2012. If you’re lucky enough to have an RX-8, or you want to get your hands on this strange sports car, you might consider customizing it with some aftermarket upgrades to make it even more uniquely yours.
A few of the
produced offered some interesting options and packages during the RX-8’s decade-long production. But, because it’s no longer available brand new, you’ll have to settle with whatever factory-produced packages and options come with the limited models for sale on the market—unless you go for aftermarket modifications, which open up a whole world of possibilities for your custom car.
It’s great to have seemingly unlimited aftermarket options, but with so much to choose from, it can be complicated to narrow down which modifications you should make to your RX-8. That’s why we compiled a useful guide to the best modifications you can make to your
Mazda RX-8
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Mazda RX-8 customization options

Despite its limited lifespan, the Mazda RX-8 earned itself a cult following among drivers who appreciate its idiosyncrasies. Most notable among the compact sports car’s unusual features is its rotary engine. Instead of pistons moving up and down, the RX series engines are powered by triangle-shaped rotors that spin together. While this costs the vehicle some fuel efficiency and torque, it still provides ample horsepower with less mechanical wear and tear.
The RX-8 used the same rotary engine across its trim levels with largely the same results. From the least expensive RX-8 Sport to the higher-end RX-8 Grand Touring and RX-8 40th-Anniversary Edition (which celebrated 40 years of the double-rotary engine, not of the car model itself), the powertrain specs are the same. 
The only notable difference is between the model’s manual and automatic transmissions. The manual, though priced lower, gets 232 horsepower out of the little 1.3-liter engine. The automatic gets 212 horsepower, no matter the trim. 
The Mazda RX-8 Sport trim package, starting at $26,435 for both manual and automatic, came with 18-inch wheels, 12.7-inch diameter front brake rotors, and fairly firm shocks and springs.
The next level up, the Touring trim package, starts at $29,535 for a manual transmission and $30,335 for an automatic. The Touring came with a moonroof, fog lights, and the Mazda sport suspension system. The Grand Touring trim, starting at $31,070 (manual) and $31,770 (automatic) offered everything featured on the Touring, plus heated leather seats. 
In 2008, Mazda also released a limited number of their 40th-Anniversary Edition RX-8, which included a red leather interior, a souped-up suspension, fog lights, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The automatic starts at $32,070 and the manual at $31,370. 
Key Takeaway There aren’t many differences in the Mazda RX-8’s powertrain across trim levels, but there are cosmetic and comfort upgrades. 

How to customize your Mazda RX-8 to save money

Customizing your car can be expensive. However, some modifications can actually help you save money over time, despite the initial upfront expense. If you’re thinking of customizing your RX-8 with aftermarket mods, consider these cost-effective options:
  • Low-rolling resistance tires: A tire that rolls more easily means it takes less force from your engine to get your car moving. Buying a set of low-resistance tires can save money by cutting fuel costs. 
  • Aerodynamic modifications: The rotary engine on the Mazda RX-8 may run smoothly, but it’s not fuel-efficient for a car its size. Offset this by adding a spoiler or removing roof bars to make your ride more aerodynamic. 
  • Change up your fan belt: Switch out your mechanically-powered fan belt for an electronically-powered fan belt. A fan powered by electricity will draw juice from your car’s electrical system, but that also means it will be less of a draw on your engine’s mechanical system. One less energy outlet for your engine means more fuel efficiency. 
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The best Mazda RX-8 mods

There are a few modifications you can make to your RX-8 to improve its performance. These modifications might not all be money-saving, but for a sports car, they sure can be fun. 

Exhaust headers

One super simple customization you can make to your car is adding
exhaust headers
. These help maximize the amount of exhaust that flows out from your car’s engine—more so than the standard exhaust manifold. This helps your engine’s performance and can even increase your horsepower. 

Cold air intake

A cold air intake system will improve your engine’s fuel efficiency by pulling cooler air into the engine and combustion chamber. This can help you use less gas while also enhancing your car’s performance.

Cylinder porting

Another step to increasing engine performance and efficiency is adjusting the cylinder head ports. Smoothing and shaping these ports will make them a more efficient portal for air to flow through. Making your engine’s air intake and exhaust more efficient will optimize your RX-8’s performance.

How to find affordable insurance for your Mazda RX-8

It can take time and a lot of money to customize your Mazda RX-8. But one way to save both time and money is downloading the Jerry app to help with your
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