Builds: Sr20-powered Mazda Rx-8

When it comes to scouting out cool car builds online, one of my favorite places to visit is the builds section of the Driftworks forums. There are lots of S-chassis and other typical drift builds, but there are also some very unique project logs thrown into the mix. You’ll find everything from classic European cars being outfitted for sideways action to more modern projects like this Mazda RX-8 out of Ireland.

Just so we know what to expect, this car comes from the same mind as the SR20DET-powered Altezza that Paddy featured last year. After the Altezza sold, Brendan began the hunt for a new project car and the result of the search was this 2004 Mazda Rx-8.

As soon as the car was delivered, the tear-down began. One of the first things to go was the stock Renesis rotary engine.

From there it was on to the interior, where damn near everything was stripped out.

With the plan being to use the RX-8 as a track day special, there wasn’t much need for the creature comforts that Mazda added to the car when it left the factory.

As the car was stripped of its excess weight, parts for the build were gathered. While the thought of keeping the car rotary-powered was considered, in the end it was decided that an SR20DET swap would be a familiar and cost-effective choice for this build.

Within no time the SR20 was acquired…

…along with an RB25DET transmission with adapter plate.

Brendan is planning on doing quite a bit of custom body work, and this set of Work Meisters was used for measuring purposes. The wheels in the photo are 18″x11J and 18x”13.5J (the same wheels off the Altezza), although the sizes won’t be quite as extreme when the RX-8 is complete.

Other goodies in the growing pile of parts include this pair of Bride bucket seats with head protection.

Brendan meanwhile began building a custom hood for the car, using a pair of vents that originally came from an S15 Silvia hood.

A later view showing the vents fully molded into the factory RX-8 hood.

Next it was time for the full roll cage, as fabricated by a friend of Brendan’s by the name of Mr.Stone.

Brendan happened to have an AE86 TRD rear wing laying around, so he decided he would try to make it work with the RX-8’s trunk lid for a unique look.

The thought of an RX-8 with an 86 spoiler might sound strange, but I don’t doubt Brendan’s ability to make it look good.

A view of the front bumper and side skirts when they arrived. They won’t be installed though until they are modified to fit with the car’s widened look.

Progress on the interior with the a custom pedal box installed in place of the factory pieces.

In this view of the SR sitting in the engine bay, you can see how far back the motor sits.

In this more recent shot we see the engine and trans fully mounted in the bay, along with the V-mount intercooler setup. From here it’s just piping and other small things before the motor swap is complete.

If you’d like to follow along with the progress on this project, be sure to check out the build thread over on the Driftworks Forums. Needless to say, I can’t wait to see how the final product turns out.

Here’s hoping that Paddy will be able to shoot it in all its glory once the car is finished.

-Mike Garrett

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Wow...all I can say. Never really a fan of the rx-8's, but can't wait to see the product of his work.


 @KietaPhillips  same!


Mr.Gordan never disappoints. Every one of his builds has been pretty amazing. Definitely a build to follow. Oh, and you can keep up with his antics on his Facebook page.


Whats with ill-cultured rednecks over the decades always, ALWAYS taking away a unique and cool rotary engine from a unique and cool rotary vehicle, putting some cheap, boring, played out, common-as-dirt engine in its place, and somehow thinking they made something cool?  Featuring an SR20 or LS powered anything is a lot like featuring cars for their ebay seats or department store alloys.


With the sheer amount of RX-8's that were sold around the world during it's production run, I don't think they're going to miss a single one that has an SR in it.


youtube PowerFab Automotive. Been there. Done that. :)


I think it comes down to those ill-cultured rednecks wanting more reliability at less cost.


More reliability? As long as the maintanence is done right a rotory engine will last as long as anything else. I commonly see RX-8s with well over 100,000 miles. With its original engine. That realiability excuse is total garbage.


 @SloMo Then why did Mazda stop building them after the failed RX8-R3 model?


Nice build so far....but I have to wonder how the under-dash factory bracing can have so much surface rust on it for a relatively new car? I'm working on a 1992 car at the moment which has sat in my carport for about 4 years with a leaky windscreen, and it only had slightly more rust on it than that!


 @KietaPhillips  @SloMo
 do you wan't to know the real reason they stopped getting made, it didn't have the slightest thing to do with reliability, it was that they were no longer compliant with the euro IV/V emissions, and therefore wouldn't be eligable for sale in the us or europe, two rather large marketsmazda are currently developing a "16x" 1.6 litre rotor for there next generation of rotary vehicle that will comply with the current regulations


nice project man!!! Would he mind to send me the RX8s throttle?? hahahaha 


An RX-8 powered by an SR20? Could it be any more awesome!?!?! Can't wait to see the final product, judging from the Altezza it should be fully sick! Thanks for sharing...


I dont know much about the renesis, but from what I understand its just a 13b with some of the ports moved. I dont know what's required to put a 13b in an rx8 but 13bs put out similar power figures to SR20s. Rotors do require to be built (lets say) twice as often, but also cost about half as much to rebuild. So having everything custom made to have Sr replace a 13b is pretty pointless.
I actually know of a 180sx local to me that is having a 13b put in it to try and save weight. One mans trash is another mans treasure I guess.


Also wanted to mention how a lot (not all) of the people who 'idolise' the SR20 dont seem have that much experience with them. Here in Australia a lot of people in budget drifters replace SR20s for RB20s to increase reliability.


A:  yes, simply add LS1 T56 and it would be more awesomernessly good.


 @777  @SloMo Now I know. Hopefully the car looks better and takes some traits from the RX7's.


 @LS1RX7_owen Haha ok, true that...


Thanks for the good articles Speedhunters. The rest of you clowns suck. 


 it's dust


 it's dust


funny how this car has a bigger following on DriftIreland, whenever I see it on DriftWorks he updates the thread and barely anyone replies.


 @LeDerp The dudes on DI appreciate a rad build. From my experience on Driftworks, 80% of the members are tossers that run their keyboards instead of their cars, Lol. Herp Derp.


 @LS1RX7_owen If there were less LS1's in Japanese cars the world would be a better place cos they suck!


 @sxe10  @LS1RX7_owen Nothing wrong with LS1's. Stop Hating. Run what ever engine you want to.


Thinking about doing the same to my rx-8. how much did it cost you? i know how to do this all myself so i dont need to pay anyone. so how much would it cost for the engine tranny etc....


Hi where can we find and buy this hood vents?