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2005 Mazda RX-8 - Adding Bark & Bling - Project RX-8

A Milltek Sport/Pettit Racing exhaust and a couple JDM Mazdaspeed goodies freshen up the 8.

David Pratte
Mar 29, 2012
Modp 1204 01+2005 mazda rx 8+cover Photo 1/12   |   2005 Mazda RX-8 - Adding Bark & Bling - Project RX-8

While waiting for the rotating assembly for our Renesis build to be balanced, we went on a bit of a UKDM and JDM shopping spree. Some of the shopping we did was of the “function” variety and some was purely of the “form” variety. Because, let’s be honest here for just a second — it’s true, we’re all about performance at Modified, but we also like to look good while going fast. That’s right, kids, sometimes it’s OK to embrace your inner automotive fashionista.

Modp 1204 02+2005 mazda rx 8+exhaust Photo 2/12   |   Milltek Sport/Pettit Racing’s after-cat exhaust system for the RX-8 not only sounds awesome and has zero drone while cruising, it also reduced exhaust backpressure by 100 millibars (from 320 down to 220).

On the function + form side of the equation, we got our foreign market spending started by contacting Milltek Sport in the UK and ordering one of its beautifully crafted Pettit Racing exhaust systems. Those of you familiar with Milltek will already know that this top-shelf UK tuning shop makes some very high-quality exhaust systems that include intelligent engineering touches like slip-fit joints that maintain the full 3-inch tubing diameter while also allowing the 4-inch exhaust tips to be positioned perfectly.

Since we already built a custom mid-pipe using a 3-inch-diameter Racing Beat resonated mid-pipe and a HJS Motorsports catalytic converter sourced from Milltek, we only required the rear section to complete our exhaust setup. This includes a slip-fit adapter that bolts up to the mid-pipe, dual mufflers and gorgeous slip-fit tailpipes that are perfectly contoured to match the curvature of the rear valance and exhaust outlets.

Installation was a breeze, thanks to the slip-joint design of this system, and it should be noted that it’s 5 lbs lighter than the OEM muffler section. Although there was no point in dyno testing it given that the engine in our 8 is down on power, Milltek tells us that the rear section like we installed reduces exhaust backpressure from 320 millibars to 220 millibars, and its mid-pipe with high-flow cat reduces that figure by an additional 100 millibars. This makes it very well suited to both a normally aspirated build like ours or a forced-induction setup (which we may add further along in the build process).

Modp 1204 03+2005 mazda rx 8+stock exhaust Photo 3/12   |   Gone is the big old rusty OE muffler section with the straight-out tailpipes, and in its place the lighter (by 5 lbs) Milltek/Pettit system with beautifully contoured double-walled tailpipes that keep heat down and thus eliminate any chance of melting the plastic around them.

What we can comment on is the sound quality of this exhaust, which is nothing short of spectacular. When cruising, the exhaust note is just a touch more aggressive than the OEM exhaust without so much as a hint of drone. Get on the gas aggressively, though, and the soundtrack changes in an instant — a deep rotary scream blasting from those sexy tailpipes like an orchestra of angry bees.

On the form end of the equation, we did a little JDM shopping, thanks to a buddy who was hangin’ in Tokyo on vacation. A quick trip to the nearest Mazda dealership netted him (and us, along with some Japanese junk food in true J-spec shipping tradition) a couple of JDM Mazdaspeed dress-up parts: a carbon-look shift knob and carbon-look B-pillar garnishes. Mazdaspeed USA sells the B-pillar garnishes, but the huge vertical Mazdaspeed decal on it is a bit over the top compared to the subtler branding on the JDM version. The OE shift knob in the 8 is very nicely weighted and rotor-shaped, but ours was looking pretty scratched up and worn out, so the MS shift knob freshens up the interior a bit, plus we love the silly little center tunnel shift pattern sticker that comes with it (apparently, in Japan it’s a legal requirement to have a visual shift pattern on display somewhere on or near the shifter).

Installing the shift knob is a 30-second affair. Grab the OE knob and turn counterclockwise until it spins off the threaded shifter arm completely. Installing the Mazdaspeed knob requires the admittedly more complicated clockwise turning motion, but given our years of experience in the knob-handling department, we managed to get the job done in record time. Zing!

The B-pillar garnishes are really just carbon-look stickers with a thick rubberized coating on them, so installing them isn’t rocket science, either. That being said, you do need to clean the B-pillar area on the front doors thoroughly (we used some Goo Gone along with household rubbing alcohol) before applying these, and you’ll also want to be extra careful when applying them because you only get one shot at it. We found that aligning them from the top and applying them slowly while peeling off the paper backing worked best.

As you’ll see in a future issue, we’ve also decided to complete the Mazdaspeed exterior package (when we bought our 8, it already had a Mazdaspeed front bumper) with a rear underspoiler and side skirts. Plus, we added a Mazdaspeed strut tower brace to our order via the Mazda Motorsports parts program, if for no other reason than having a little extra carbon-look bling on board as well as a functional brake master cylinder brace (which is cleverly integrated into the strut bar’s design). But for the rear wing, we’ve gone in a different and more functional direction, so you’ll have to wait for more details on that.


Irvine, CA 92614
By David Pratte
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