Between CL and eBay, about a half dozen of these original-series grey & black DX8's came to market this past late summer through fall. I grabbed one that I hoped was the best combination of low serial number and good condition of the lot. It's been sitting in the shop since I got it, but with some time off work for the holidays, I dug it out.
Condition is very good, just a few small paint chips. The finder is in great shape, just a tad dirty. Main optics look pristine, in fact the whole telescope looks hardly used. The DEC lock knob would pop-off when loosened and I suspect this is the reason it didn't get used much, if at all, by the original & previous owners. Examining it revealed that not enough of the knob shaft threads were making it into the receiver hole on the DEC clutch. Only two threads were engaged when it was tightened-down, so once loosened to move the scope in DEC, it popped-out and of course the scope wouldn't stay aimed. I chucked the shaft in the mini lathe and reduced the diameter for about 3/8" of an inch beyond the end of the threads, so now the entire threaded section engages the DEC clutch and it works as designed. It appeared to be a factory flaw, the shaft had not broken-off but the shoulder was just too close to the threaded portion. Problem solved.
The laser says it's collimated, but of course that's not precise, so a star test will still be needed, and it's just socked-in here tonight. Too many other projects on the workbench to set up for autocollimation tests at the moment, maybe in a few days.
But the good news is that, on daytime targets at least, the imagery is very sharp at even high powers. It blows-away my later model blue-and-light-grey DX8. I can't help but think that the optics, as a complete system, are much, much better than my later model Dynamax.
I had reasoned that a very low serial number might indicate a unit produced before the Celestron lawsuit forced Criterion to switch their corrector plate figuring method. Buying a DX8 is always a crapshoot with very poor odds, but judging by my terrestrial tests, this may be a reasonably good way to at least hedge one's bet with these things. I won't pronounce the optics "good" or better until I've done some actual testing, but the initial views are very promising.