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A friend of mine, Joe Young, found the idea on the web: (I'm not paying $4,000 for the web swap kit though... we're going to fabricate everything).

The other player involved is a long-time friend, Sammy Barry. He's a machinist by trade and was building customs and race cars down in Pass Christian Mississippi until he got wiped out by Katrina. He moved back to Tennessee after the hurricane and has been putting things back together but this will be his first major car project since coming back. In addition to his passion for cars he's a foreman down at a machine shop here in Nashville now so we've got the fabrication angle covered for all of the cutting and welding we'll need to do.

Anyway, the goal is like-new '93 Miata with the 5.0 V8 option that Mazda never offered. Here's some pictures:


Basically my son Garrett and I had been working on an old '90 LX 5.0 HO Mustang. We had it mechanically sound and were about to start on the cosmetics when it became the victim of a rear-end crash. Fortunately no one was hurt and the insurance paid enough for him to get this pretty sweet '92 LX 5.0 convertible

... and left me with the salvage from the '90. He said, "hey dad, whatcha gonna do with that?"... I replied, "...wait...".

After a few months of daily online searches I ran across this car advertised with a blown motor for $800... after a little negotiation the Miata project was born! (thanks Sherry & Christian!)

I added some custom wheels for project inspiration... set of Enkei Fittapaldi's with Nitto Z rated rubber (I love Craigslist!)...

Here's a shot from the back...

Here's a shot of the Donor and the Patient together at Sammy's starting-over shop:

Now the fun starts!

We yanked the motor, transmission, Wiring harness, computer, etc... out of the '90 hatch

The syncros on the tranny were a little gravelly between 1st and 2nd so I found a rebuilt T5 on E'bay. (Thanks Earl!!!)

Sammy tore down the motor and we took it to Mike's Speed Shop in Murfreesboro for an acid bath and check-out. Cam and rollers are OK but we had to go ahead with a mild bore... add in a piston kit, oil pump, timing chain and gears ( yikes! $s keep adding up!). I'm going to go ahead with factory heads and intake now knowing that's something we can do pretty easily even after the swap... (Did I mention this is a budget build?)...

I picked up a 7.5" Independent Rear End with the half-shafts out of a "94 Cougar last weekend from Pull-a-Part... $126.56 after tax... good buy! Wooo hooo! (oops... not a limited slip... there goes another $220). The project can proceed now though, and I can put in the limited slip chunk later.

Well... back to the story: We rolled the Mustang out and rolled in the Miata. Since the motor's locked up we couldn't rotate it to get the auto trans out; so out it comes in one big piece... need a boat anchor?

(actually since the pull I've found a new home for the tranny, the rear and even a guy wants the block for $50 as a starting point for a turbo motor he's building... I've recovered about 1/2 the cost of the car already)

After the motor was out Sammy couldn't wait to start cutting... some cool pics shooting sparks:

and another... don't worry... that Bud Light is there just in case of fire:

Here's some shots of the Miata engine compartment... before, during and after cleanup.


during... (thanks joe!)

... and after...

Here's a picture of the rear sub-assembly that holds the rear-end/independent rear suspension. I got the Miata rear out Sunday so she's ready for a pressure wash and we'll load it up for Sammy to take to the machine shop to weld up the brackets for the 7.5" Cougar rear-end.

Well... the 'refreshed' motor should deliver today or tomorrow and we'll drop, and start cutting, the front K member of the car for starter and exhaust clearance.

We'll need to shorten the half-shafts on the Cougar rear end. I can have it done for about $800 but I think we are going to try to fab it. If it doesn't hold under the torque I'll have them made but I'm trying to find ways to save money because the plan is to build several of these V8 Miatas from what we learn here.

Also we need to restud the Cougar hubs to match the Miata 4 bolt pattern and install them into Miata hub assembly. (it's good to have a friend with a Machine Shop!)

We'll have the driveshaft shortened and balanced at a local shop that specializes in that. Then we've got to fabricate a transmission mount to span the Miata sub-frame.

After that I have to splice the Mustang computer into the Miata wiring harness... fabricate up the exhaust and I think it'll be ready for the road.

Update: got her running -


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Comment by Jimmy on June 23, 2009 at 11:23am
We've got it on the road now. You can check out my main profile page for more recent pictures.
Comment by ugly86integra on November 30, 2008 at 7:09am
very cool project! miata's make pretty cool v8 swap projects. i have a couple buddy's in tampa with sb chevy swaps in them, and they're real sleepers. ;) keep up the good work man! ;)
Comment by Tim on November 28, 2008 at 3:45pm
keep it up man that looks like it's going to be alot fun!!!

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