Cars

Fujimi Mazdaspeed RX-8 A-Spec

 

I’ve always really liked these cars, even if the RX-8 lived most of its life being the little brother that just wasn’t good enough or as cool as its iconic predecessor, the RX-7. The factory fender bulge arches and insanely cool rear suicide doors spoke to me on a existential level. At one point I almost bought one, but I would never be able to handle the upkeep of a rotary, especially one as temperamental as the RX-8’s RENESIS was known to be.

I think the S2 RX-8’s (facelifted ’09-’11 models) are where this car peaked, both mechanically and aesthetically, as Mazda fixed most of the problems plaguing the earlier cars in their last few years of production, and gave it a much more attractive front end. Unfortunately, Fujimi only ever made 1/24 kits of the pre-facelift S1’s, with a few bodykit variants like Veilside and RE-Amemiya. I found the Mazdaspeed version to be the most attractive version, and as far as front bumper designs go it’s probably as close as I’m going to get to an S2 front end.

As is common with older Fujimi kits, you don’t get much. Exhaust is entirely molded into the chassis plate, rear wheels are meant to be connected with a solid rod instead of independent suspension.

These Mazdaspeed wheels are actually really nice, but I feel like I have a bunch of these thick five and six spoke wheels as spares laying around now.

Main body mold is nice and crisp, with surprisingly few mold injection lines.

So the Mazdaspeed package includes the specialized wheels, front and rear bumpers, sideskirts, aero mirrors, and a special wing. I only plan to use the bumpers, mirrors, and sideskirts for this build – the rest will be replaced by aftermarket parts.

Yikes. Looks like Fujimi literally molded the entire exhaust including the axle-back portion into the chassis, so instead of having the tips attached to a muffler that runs beneath the car, they’re just supposed to slot into the cutouts in the bumper. Lame. Those areas are cut out to get the actual shape of the diffuser back.

Only a RHD dash is included, but that’s expected. The seats feel unusually small and narrow, especially compared to the rear seats, but I suppose they’ll fit regardless. The interior tub itself is also painfully under detailed – the door cards are basically blank plates.

I like how Fujimi gives you the auto shifter option but the only pedal assembly is one that includes a clutch. I guess you’re just supposed to chop the third pedal off if you’re going for auto, but you wouldn’t intentionally swap a manual to an auto, would you?

Wasn’t a fan of the stock steering wheel – it looks unusually fat, so I’m switching it out with an aftermarket race wheel.

Cut some tubes up to create a quick-release style mount for the new wheel.

The center stack also looked weirdly plain below the climate control area, so I went in and added three pieces representing aftermarket gauges, made by cutting a small tube piece of styrene.

I really struggled with picking this car’s body color – I think they look killer in mica blue, but I think every car looks killer in mica blue (and I feel like I’ve built too many blue cars already). So, I wanted to go with a color I hadn’t done yet but would be befitting of this car. At one point I leaned very close to going with a light gunmetal or silver as these cars are so commonly seen in, but then I found a very attractive 700hp mustard yellow RX-8 on Super Street that I thought would make for a unique inspiration. I haven’t done any yellow cars yet (because I don’t like yellow cars for the most part) but I thought it worked on that particular car that also had the Mazdaspeed kit.

All body parts masked after the yellow color coat for the gloss black diffuser parts. The rear diffuser is molded into the rear bumper, and the front bumper and side skirts all have tiny slivers below them that look like they’re meant to be a separate color.

Interior masked to paint the rear seats red.

Exhaust and front lower control arms painted in.

Taillights are made up of chrome housings that needed a splash of red at the corners and the main brake lens that needed to be done in clear red.

I wouldn’t have been completely adverse to running the stock Mazdaspeed wheels, but I wanted some more visually interesting (read: 3-piece) wheels to stand out against the more stock-style bodywork. At first I was going to order a resin set from the usual suspects (UCSP, EightyOne, FuguGarage) since they tend to offer more interesting and off-the-cuff designs, but I found these SSRs from Aoshima that actually looked really nice.

I was hesitant at first, since these Professor SP3s are 19″ (the stock Mazdaspeed wheels are 18″) and the included tires are of the super-stretched variety, but they ended up fitting under the fenders just fine even with a set of more normal 19″ tires I pulled from my reserve stash.

Wheel faces are painted in with light gunmetal. Lips are left chrome.

Window lining painted by hand, no masking stickers included with this kit.

The only reason I didn’t tint the rear side windows too was because I actually put effort into painting the rear seats red, so I didn’t want that to be completely obscured. The rear package shelf is entirely devoid of detail though, so tinting the rear windshield was almost required.

Fujimi includes the standard RX-8 decal sheet (that comes with two gauge cluster color options) and a dedicated one for Mazdaspeed. The mesh-looking trapezoid decals on the Mazdaspeed sheet are apparently supposed to go on the exterior B-pillars, I assume to imitate a carbon fiber look. They look more like straight grille mesh than carbon though, so I had no plans to actually use them.

I’m not sure if it’s a Fujimi thing or just because this kit is so old the decal sheets have yellowed, but the large water slides here are actually garbage. They break apart at the slightest poke, meaning transferring them onto the model for actual use is pretty much impossible. I got lucky with the two left and right auxiliary guage cluster decals transferring over mostly intact, but the center gauge decal absolutely refused to move in one piece. I had two tries too, since Fujimi gave us two gauge sets, but they were equally screwed from the get-go.

The center gauge is giant too, so I actually had some trouble finding a suitable replacement – I ended up cutting out the decal from my old Jada Fast and Furious Eclipse and gluing it into the middle portion. It obviously isn’t accurate as an RX-8 tach, but as long as the sizing was mostly correct I didn’t really care. I also couldn’t find gauge decals small enough to fit the aftermarket bits I cut and glued in, so they just got a silver bezel with a black face.

Interior done. I went with a different approach to my usual this time by not coating the tub in a layer of matte in order to emphasize the materials the finishes are supposed to represent more. Normally for all my interiors I’ll finish all the detail work and paint and drown it with a nice even coat of flat spray, where everything looks uniform, smooth, and even. I left the seats gloss this time to give them more of a leather look (since they’re supposed to be leather) and kept the grainy satin on the dash to give it a sense of the cheap black plastic (sorry Mazda) that was used in a lot of cheaper cars of this era.

Window and weather trim all painted in by hand with black acrylic, then sealed with matte.

First time seeing the look together with the wheels/tires and bumpers on the body. I think I could get some better stance with smaller wheels overall and tires that are just as thin without needing to tuck, but as it sits on these 19″ I like them. The front bumper seems to suffer from the common curse of swooping upwards at the bottom though, making the whole car look lifted from the front. I’ll probably try to solve this with a splitter as I did with my Blitz BRZ.

The rear window is unique – there’s no weather stripping frame. The entire rear window is a dome that just fills in the body gap from the outside, as opposed to most windows cementing up from the inside.

Of course, there’s no engine with this kit. The RENESIS isn’t pretty to look at anyway. What’s annoying is that Fujimi didn’t even bother to include any sort of fake radiator or any sort of detail whatsoever behind the giant front bumper opening – it’s just the clip from the body that attaches it to the chassis. I could mostly make that go away by just painting the clip black, but that’s still lame when the bumper mouth is gigantic. So, I stole a flat plastic radiator (intercooler?) from my spare parts box.

It’s really just a thin plastic board with line detail. It has to be thin in order to fit between the bumper opening and chassis clip though – there’s not much room in between them.

And to add insult to injury, the mesh that Fujimi includes that’s meant for use in the bumper opening is ridiculously out of scale and features massive openings that would just make the clip behind the bumper even more prominent if I hadn’t stuck in a radiator/intercooler.

I’m still replacing the giant holey mesh with more appropriately sized pieces though.

The headlights are really weird. I’m sure this isn’t how they are on the actual car, because Fujimi just gives us the actual housings as chrome planks with bulbs, rather than full housings that fit into the openings in the bumper/fenders. Because of this, I need to paint the “background” for the headlights black.

See what I mean? They’re just chrome strips. I’ve never seen headlights done this way.

Lenses all come in clear plastic – the rear third brake light lens was painted clear red and the front side markers were painted clear orange because USDM (even though this is a RHD model).

Headlight lenses also fit very poorly. In addition to not really matching the opening shape to well, this is by far the worst lens attachment I’ve had to do. Most models will include a little strip or tab on the inside of the lens that plugs into the body, where you can safely add a little cement to hold it in place. Other models without tabs will at least give you a little indent around the housing for the lens to sit in. Fujimi gives you nothing here – the lens are just supposed to float in place in the opening. Through some very delicate cement work lining the edges I managed to make it work, but really the fitment is far from properly flush.

Rear taillights also threw me for a loop, mostly because I didn’t think the RX-8 had bezels around the tail housings. Fujimi gives you the actual taillight housings in chrome, and they slot into the openings in the rear just fine. The issue is that the lens sits over that strip of body-colored bezel, and I don’t think that’s accurate to the real car.

Regardless, I just went in and painted the bezels black as I did with the headlights. It looks like it has eyeliner now.

I was really on the fence about using these Mazdaspeed aero mirrors for the build – Fujimi includes the stock style mirrors in the kit so I had the option to go with something more OEM if I wanted to, but ended up using the Mazdaspeed ones after all since I thought the car overall needed a racier flair.

So, with the exhaust – I mentioned earlier that Fujimi’s original approach was to just peg the exhaust tips into the diffuser openings and call it a day. But of course that’s lame, so I’m building my own tips and pipes coming off the muffler that’s molded into the chassis.

The axle-back portion of the exhaust that’s molded into the chassis is already in a good place, so all I really needed to do was bend some styrene 90 degrees for an arm and slot some larger cylinders over.

To make them a little more visually interesting I decided to go with a burnt tip look. This is where my lack of an airbrush in my arsenal really sets me back. The burnt steel look would be a cakewalk with an airbrush to create the gradual gradient, but here I am living in the stone age using q-tips to gently pat some transparent paint over chrome to attempt to achieve the same effect. I’ve done burnt tips before, to only mild success for a customer car, but I figured it was time I really went in on properly getting this technique and effect down.

Rather than just go with straight clear blue over the chrome, I decided to do a light splash of violet first, followed by the clear blue on top, to get the proper looking effect. It’s still not great since I had some trouble getting even coverage all around the tip cylinders, but at the very least I think I’ve figured out how to approach the look I’m going for. Hopefully on the next car I decide to try this on it’ll come out proper.

Getting the wheels attached to the rotors ironically took a lot more work than usual. The wheels are Aoshima, which means they come with thick hubs with polycaps inside. Fujimi’s rotors had slightly recessed faces, meaning I couldn’t just glue the wheels onto the rotors as I usually do. I ended up doing the most work by fabricating pegs with spacers that would allow them to fit into both the wheels and rotors.

I’ve had this Voltex GT Wing saved in the stash forever, waiting for the right car I could slap it on. It’s already been painted and carbon fiber’d and everything – thanks to some extra legwork I had done for a certain GT-R in the past by mistake. The nice thing here is I can just throw it on the RX-8 without needing to modify anything or do any more work to make it fit.

With the wheels on, it feels like the car isn’t low enough, but really only in the front. The sides and rear look fine, but I’m having the same dilemma here as I had with the BLITZ BRZ – the bumper feels like it curves upwards a bit, so to cancel that out of course my default solution is to build a custom splitter for it.

I feel like I’m doing this way too often. This is like the fourth car I’ve built a custom front splitter for. They’re generally all the same shape too – it’s too easy to do, but man I need variety.

Final touches – some blue for the lug nuts.

In the end, I really wanted to avoid making this a carbon copy of the Super Street-featured yellow RX-8 I took inspiration from. Ironically they’re still nearly carbon copies, but I made conscious choices in differentiation for the details – I could’ve used Toyo Tires decals on the doors since I actually had blue ones available, but went with SSR markings instead.

Juxtaposing the model next to the real car really brings out how Fujimi’s front end mold just barely skirts too close to uncanny valley. Something about the bumper shape just feels wrong, and the headlights seem way too small.

The front bumper was worse at one point though – originally out of the box, the lower chassis actually sticks out too far, pushing the bottom of the bumper outwards so the bottom juts out like a giant underbite (top pic here sort of shows it, notice how there’s a gap between the bumper edge and the front side marker). It took me a while to realize that the chassis front needed trimming so I could push the bottom of the bumper far enough in that the bottom would lay parallel with the ground and flush up to the fenders.

The drawback to this was that it created a larger gap up top where the bumper meets the hood. There’s no winning them all. But I’ll take a slightly larger panel gap over the annoying protruding chin bumper syndrome any day.

I added a bit of black to the headlight housings where I thought they should’ve been on the production cars, but I kind of regret not painting the projector surrounds in black too. As it is the headlights are just chrome and chinky.

Normally I think I’d be upset about how high this car is, since the 19″ SSR’s prevented me from getting the body really close to the ground, but I’m surprisingly satisfied with the final look. The front wheels look a tad large – maybe a 18″ front 19″ staggered fit would’ve pulled the front down just enough, but as it is everything is strangely well-fitting. I guess I don’t have to slam everything into the concrete to make it look good.

Anyway, after the intensive transkit adventure that was the BRZ I built recently, this kit was really meant to be a more relaxing breather – I’m glad I went with a simpler approach to the mods and still ended up happy with it. There isn’t really any model aftermarket parts support specific to the RX-8 (unlike something like the 86 or GT-R platforms with a plethora of custom parts to choose from) so I made do with the basics like wheels and a big wang.

 

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