The RX-8 went out of production in 2012 but its engine hasn't.
Production of the Mazda RX-8 ended close to a decade ago in 2012. The quirky sports car was famed not only for its unique styling but its rare 13B Renesis rotary engine. With its 9,000 rpm redline and light weight, the engine was an engineering marvel and provided the RX-8 with a distinct emotional character.
Rumors about the return of the RX-8 and the rotary engine have swirled for years but while another rotary-powered sports car hasn't materialized, the engine isn't dead. In fact, Mazda has announced that the 13B engine - or at least its key components - is still being produced.
A lengthy post on Classic Mazda shared a behind-the-scenes look at the continued production of this special engine.
"Many people don't know, but in fact, Mazda continues to manufacture rotary engines," said Tetsuya Sato who works at the Mazda Headquarters Factory. In a translation translated from Japanese, he continued: "It will be installed in new cars until the RX-8, but even after that. We continue to manufacture the 13B type repair parts and the bare engine body assembled with new parts." Essentially, this means that older RX-8s can continue to be equipped with a new rotary engine or engine parts.
The factory, which has manufactured rotary engine parts since 1973, now runs with an exceptionally small team. There are only 10 people in total and they combine to manufacture parts like the rotor housing, eccentric shaft, and side housing.
This small team manages to ship 200 to 400 rotary engine parts around the world each month.
It's heartening that as we enter the electrification era, companies like Mazda are still willing to dedicate resources to an engine that wasn't exactly renowned for either reliability or efficiency. Honda pulled a similar trick last year when it announced that parts for the classic S2000 roadster - another Japanese car with a high-revving engine - would be made more widely available.
The rotary engine may only live on as a range-extender in the new MX-30 EV but for owners who want to extend the lives of their RX-8s, Mazda is happy to help them do that.