V8 Miata or not

mazda
engines
miata

#1

So I’ve lusted after building my own V8 (small block LSX) Miata for some time now and fully understand and look forward to such a build. My mechanical and electronic abilities are up to the task and I don’t think this level of swap is outside of my comfort zone.

Many of my friends say that a Miata is a girls car and that any hetero guy shouldn’t have one, but most of them are car people. The big question is what does this group of gearheads think about such a vehicle? Do you think it’s something that I should move forward on regardless of what others think until they are screaming for me to slow down, or should I spend my time and money on building a pre or post war classic?

Thoughts and opinions are more than welcome, I’m a big boy and can handle it. :wink:


#2

I think you would be better to use a Sky or Solstice instead of a Miata. The Miata in not just a girls car either, I see a lot of old men in them too.


#3

I’d go by a local autocross event, bet they’ll be LOTS of guys driving their high-performance Miatas. Putting a V8 in one sounds like a fun project, but if this is for the street make sure you’ll be able to license/inspect it.


#4

Sunbeam did this back in the 1960s. A Ford V-8 was put in the Sunbeam and the car was then named the Sunbeam Tiger. A Miata with a small block V-8 would be today’s version of the Sunbeam Tiger.


#5

DO it! Any comments about a “girls car” go away when you smoke the tires for two blocks. This is a great swap with nearly any Gen 3 or 4 motor. Use an aluminum block version (5.3 L, 5.7L or 6.0 L LS motor) and upgrade the rear diff (RX-8 fits, I think) Makes this girl car into a hairy beast just like the Sunbeam Tiger. DO IT!


#6

These guys built up my Miata several years ago:

http://www.flyinmiata.com/

My Stage II turbo dynoed 250+ RW HP

I would suggest turbo/super charging the Miata engine over a V8 swap. One of the nice things about Miatas are their light weight. Remember, engine upgrades are only part of the story (and expense). Suspension, brakes, exhaust, etc. will cost extra.

It’s more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow. If you want a V8 convertible, but a Corvette, Mustang, etc.


#7

I think I see and know more male Miata drivers than female.

Seems to me it’s a pretty smart idea for a guy to drive a car girls like.


#8

I think that this comes down to two realities:

>Dropping a V-8 into a Miata will produce a car with such an incredibly bad weight distribution that its handling and traction would be severely compromised. Yes, it would have incredible acceleration (after initial wheel-spin), but…when you came to the first curve, you would likely wind up hitting the guardrail due to extreme understeer at higher speeds, as a result of the really bad weight distribution.

While it is impossible to know for sure, I would estimate that this type of conversion would result in weight distribution in the range of 70/30–which always spells disaster in terms of handling.

If you want to see an example of this phenomenon, look for road test reviews of the Studebaker Golden Hawk. In 1956, when Studebaker decided to drop the 352 c.i. Packard V-8 into the Hawk, they got incredible acceleration, albeit with really bad handling. After such bad results with this heavy Packard V-8, they decided to install a supercharger on the much lighter Studebaker V-8 for the 1957-58 models. The result was a Golden Hawk with…equally good acceleration (better than the '57 Corvette, actually!)…and decent handling–as a result of better weight distribution coupled with equivalent power output.

The moral of the story is that if a car manufacturer can’t come up with decent handling for a car with a really heavy front end, you won’t be able to do so either.

Just because something can be done does not mean that it should be done.

>Your friends (the ones who say, “a Miata is a girls car and any hetero guy shouldn’t have one”) have simply demonstrated how incredibly insecure they are about their own sexuality. If somebody is confident about his own sexual identity, he would not care what the insecure people have to say about his car choices.


#9

You throw a v8 into a Miata, you take away all that it is. It isn’t a muscle car. It’s a true sports car that does many things well. Acceleration is more then adaquate and after driving a friends 2011, it is plenty big enough. We are both well over 6 feet and we have head room to spare in the latest generation. It has enough straight line performance to satisfy sane drivers without teenage testosterone letting urges. Btw, if you want an excellent car with good handling and a v8 at an outrageously reasonable price, just buy a recent generation Mustang. But, a Miata it isn’t and throwing a v8 into a Miata and keeping it’s handling qualities with independent suspension would drive the price into the stratosphere. Once there, just look at Corvettes instead.


#10

Nobody said our hobbies need to make sense. If he wants a V8 Miata, that’s fine with me. Lots of crazier things out there…


#11

But , hey even bringing up the subject means he already knows all the cons and chooses to do if for hobby’s sake.
My daughter’s friend’s dad has a blown 350 in a S10 Blazer…the slicks on the back are 16 inches wide.
I’ve see small block V8s in old beetles too.

If you have the time , the fabrication skills, and the money…have at it.


#12

The V-8 conversion has been done before and my fuzzy memory seems to recall a small block Ford powered Miata hitting 180 MPH during the Silver State race on Nevada highways a few years back.

For what it’s worth, I’m a bit of a gearhead, ride Harleys, was even extended an offer to join a somewhat notorious, unnamed motorcycle club or gang as the choice of words may be, and I don’t consider the Mazda to be a “girl’s car”. I’ve never been accused of being effeminate in any way…

Sounds like a very cool project to me so I say go for it


#13

I started building V8 Vegas back in the late 70’s because you could buy a nearly new Vega for peanuts. The engines were a black mark on GM because of their lousy reliability. As others have already noted…the handling will be lousy and the minor problems that will surely plague you can be overcome with time and a little ingenuity. Go for it. My only advice would be to stay within reasonable limits on the size and horsepower of the engine. I built a V6 Vega and it ran strong and handled as good as any factory Vega. It was still a V6 and that’s hard to digest if you really are set on a V8. When your beast is done…I’d like to hear about it. I’m sure others here feel the same way. Good luck.


#14

Poor man’s Shelby? (Moreso if using a Ford V8.)


#15

By the time you finish, you would have the biggest disappointment in cars in terms of satisfaction per dollar, you could imagine. The Miata as far as I can tell, is not a full frame vehicle that is more open to lapses of common sense. With a unibody construction, you would literally have to make your own car trying to put a standard v8 in there, then slap a Milta logo on it.


#16

The 302ci V8 is/was a popular swap for the Miata. Lots of go fast(er) parts are available for it, too.
Upgrading the suspension would also be required once you put the V8 in the car, then better brakes, and bigger wheels to accommodate those better brakes, custom made drive shaft, headers, exhaust, etc.

If your buddies still give you grief after you’ve got everything running smoothly, offer to run them at a local drag strip.
There’s an old Bel Air(I think it is) that someone built up for drag racing and the guy who owns it painted it pink and purple. He drives it to and from the strip, no trailering. He takes it out on the strip, spanks a bunch of people in the races, and leaves. What “manly” guy is going to say he lost to a “girly” guy driving a pink and purple car at the race?


#17

Thanks for the input everyone. As to the handling and weight distribution, nothing’s really changed that much. Most of the V8 Miata’s that I’ve read about have around a 48/52 weight distribution and keep that amazing Miata handling.

twotone is dead on with flynmiata.com as they have built MANY V8 Miata’s:
http://www.flyinmiata.com/projects/build_diaries.php
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STCCKcdoOTA

The turbo idea would be great, except that from everything I’ve read, the cost is close to the same once you start pushing 300hp. I’m not looking for a muscle car by any definition. What I want is a fun to drive car with lot’s of get up and go. As for pony cars, I just can’t bring myself to drive a modern car with a 1960’s suspension. They may be fast in a straight line, but that’s not what I’m after. FUN is the most important driving factor.

I think texases said it best with “Nobody said our hobbies need to make sense.”

Any other thoughts out there?


#18

There’s also this series from Gearz:


#19

Carroll Shelby stuffed a lot of side oiler 427s into AC Cobra bodies…

What has also been stated is that VW Beetles are girl cars; even back in the air-cooled days.
A friend quite a few years ago stuffed a 401 Buick Wildcat w/Powerglide and 9" Ford rear axle into a 1960 VW Bug sedan. That was hardly a girl car either…


#20

“By the time you finish, you would have the biggest disappointment in cars in terms of satisfaction per dollar, you could imagine.”

Somewhere here there’s a discussion about buying hybrids and cost analysis and return on investment. I argued that for a hybrid buyer none of that really matters. The same argument applies here. For anyone that’s serious about muscle cars, resto-rods, hot-rods, classic cars, engine performance, body and suspension mods, and the like, the only rule for measuring success is how fast you went and how big the smile on your face. Any talk of money or cost is irrelevant.