At $9,500, Could This 2009 Mazda RX-8 Be The Wankel To Wrangle?

The seller claims the car to be in great shape and provides compression readings to validate the health of its rotary engine.

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Nice Price or No Dice 2009 Mazda RX-8
Photo: Craigslist

Unlike sedans awkwardly disguised as coupes, today’s Nice Price or No Dice RX-8 is a full four-door with a trunk that’s hiding within a coupe body. Let’s see if that amazing magic trick means an equally magical price.

Do you ever suffer the experience of having someone ask “are you going to finish that?” while pointing to your half-eaten buffet plate or the reverse mohawk you’ve made on the lawn? Finishing something someone else has started is a longstanding tradition in society, and, with yesterday’s 1963 Sunbeam Alpine project, it’s a tradition that some lucky soul could carry on with pride.

Presented in the ad as a long-term project spanning a number of owners, the Sunbeam needed wiring, a carb tune, and a few odds and ends to bring it over the goal line. Being unfinished didn’t finish its chances in the vote, however. At $9,950, a small majority of you — 53 percent to be exact — thought it a decent deal, honoring the Alpine with a Nice Price win.

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Photo: Craigslist

Yesterday’s Sunbeam represented what is generally considered to be the quintessential small sports car experience — two doors, a convertible roof, and decent handling from its tuned suspension. You can still get that experience in a new car today, most notably in Mazda’s evergreen ode to the sports car ethos, the MX-5 Miata. The Miata wasn’t Mazda’s first sports car, nor for a time was it the company’s most notable or capable. That honor fell on the RX-7, a Wankel-engined sports car that stood above the Miata in both model line position and performance. Mazda shepherded the RX7 through three and a half decades and three major model changes until the company decided to do something fairly different.

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Photo: Craigslist

That different was the RX-8 which took the concept of what a sports car could be and turned it on its ear. With its front mid-engine placement giving the car almost 50/50 weight distribution and a capable Wankel-led drivetrain, the RX-8 certainly could effectively carry the RX-7’s water. With four seats and a like number of doors (opening suicide-style in the back, just like a Rolls Royce!) it also explored new territory for the marque.

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Unfortunately for Mazda, the RX-8 was introduced near the tail end of the sports car craze. Most people had started buying SUVs and cookie-cutter crossovers at the time, leaving the RX-8 to sit and watch from dealer lots. The innovative style and layout didn’t help either, as much as with the Ferrari 308/Mondial comparison, most folks prefer their sports cars to have the fit of an Italian suit rather than to be family-sized.

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Photo: Craigslist
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This 2009 Mazda RX-8 is one that did manage to leave the dealer lot with a new owner. Since then it’s only done a mere 56,000 miles and, with just a couple of exceptions noted in the ad, looks to have held up well over the years and those admittedly parsimonious miles.

The engine here, of course, is the Renesis 13B 1.3 liter, two-rotor Wankel. With the six-speed manual that should be good for a healthy 232 horsepower as long as you’re willing to wring it out. Those mechanicals are described as being in good shape, with the seller going so far as to provide shots in the ad of the engine’s compression readings for each rotor. The ad also notes the replacement of the clutch just 5,000 miles ago and will provide the receipts to prove it. Now, I don’t know who is eating clutches in just 50K on a Mazda but… day-um. Maybe go a little easier on the launches there, pilgrim.

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Image for article titled At $9,500, Could This 2009 Mazda RX-8 Be The Wankel To Wrangle?
Photo: Craigslist

Other updates include coils and wires and plugs, a safeguard the seller says was taken to “protect the engine / catalytic converter.”

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Aesthetically, the car looks to be in decent shape, although the seller does point out a sizable dent in the driver’s door and a scratch through the topcoat on the rear haunch. Neither flaw is significant and either might be minimized by a good paintless dent removal business. The interior shows equally well, with cloth-covered seats that show no obvious signs of wear and Mazda’s crazy circle-themed center stack. On the to-do list, however, is a broken sun visor.

Image for article titled At $9,500, Could This 2009 Mazda RX-8 Be The Wankel To Wrangle?
Photo: Craigslist
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The car comes with a clean title and the seller says that if the ad’s up, the car’s still for sale. The asking price for that sale is $9,500, and it’s now time for you all to weigh in, both in the comments and the vote, on whether or not that’s a deal.

What do you say, is this RX-8 worth that $9,500 asking as it’s described in the ad? Or, does the car’s weird nature and minor flaws make that a no-go?

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You decide!

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Denver, Colorado, Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Jerry Cleveland for the hookup!

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