Why? Because Mazda shoehorned a 2.5 liter V6 transversely under the hood, and made the car a front-wheel-drive machine. Add to that a pair of overhead cams per cylinder head. Add to that the process of replacing the water pump entails removing most of the accessories off the engine, and the timing belt. And then on top of all that, I've never, ever changed a timing belt on a car.
I won't bore you with details, but the long story short is that three of us successfully replaced the timing belt, water pump, belts and gaskets over the course of a leisurely seven hours.
So while having lunch with a friend the other day, we were discussing the complex nature of something like a water pump/timing belt job on an MX-6, and the various other oddball repairs that some cars require.
We discussed the strange, unnecessary complexity of changing a PCV valve on an early Mazda3 (Step 1: Remove the intake manifold). Then we touched on other things like changing the water pump on a Ferrari Testarossa (Step 1: Remove engine). I then showed him some of the scars on my hands with accompanying stories.
"So what kind of car do you like to work on?" he asked.A simple question, but one that I took a minute to think about.
The options went spinning through my head as I found myself putting down my sandwich and staring into space. I mean, any car guy worth his salt would probably blurt out something like a twin-turbo Ferrari F40, or maybe a Bugatti Veyron with four turbos. Perhaps a sweet muscle car, like a '59 Corvette with a blown big block. Most of us probably have dreams of spinning wrenches in the pits at Indianapolis, or fine-tuning the air/fuel mixture on a Top Fuel dragster.
What could I say? There were so many cool cars that I could rattle off, and I'd had a hand on several cool cars over the years. But then I got thinking about how miserable it'd be to have to remove the intake manifold on a quad-turbo W16 Bugatti engine. And the castings on the F40 were probably poor. And I'd probably completely screw up the mixture on a supercharged motor and blow the heads off of it. I cringed a bit, but I had an answer.
"Pickup trucks," I said.
"Pickup trucks?" he asked while raising an eyebrow. "All the cool cars you know about, and you're telling me you like to work on pickup trucks???"
It's true. Ever work on one? You don't need to jack it up. You don't need to break your back bending down to it. The drivetrain is relatively straightforward. All the parts are big and pretty easy to get to. Heck, I've even crawled inside the engine bay and sat on the fender while working on a couple full-size ones.
After all, we know how much fun it is to drive and brag about all that trickle-down race car technology is on a car, but when it comes to working on the beasts, I'll happily take the simplicity of a big full-size truck.
Image from 4wheeloffroad.com