These go up to eleven: Flyin’ Miata launches ND Mazda MX-5 V8 conversion

Published: 05 August 2016

► Flyin’ Miata unveils ND-gen MX-5 V8 swap
► Conversion costs $50k and ups power to 430bhp
► US deliveries to start in early 2018

Tempted by a new MX-5 but consider its engine four cylinders short of a picnic? Fear not, as Flyin’ Miata – the US company renowned for rehoming V8s in MX-5s – has a solution for you.

Admittedly it’s not a cheap solution, but it is a simple one. Simply drop a new MX-5 off at Flyin’ Miata, part with $49,995, and you’ll be rewarded with a 430bhp V8-engined roadster.

How good’s the swap?

It’s no hack job, by any stretch of the imagination – Flyin’ Miata comprehensively reworks the Mazda to accept its new powerplant. The entry-level engine option is a 430bhp 6.2-litre LS3, which is backed by a two-year warranty. Power’s dispatched from the nose of the Mazda to the tail by a six-speed T56 gearbox, while the limited-slip differential from a Camaro does its best to maximise traction.

Each Flyin’ Miata ND also gets an aluminium driveshaft, heavy-duty axles, an upgraded fuel and cooling system, bigger brakes and FOX Racing suspension. The company goes to town on making sure the whole swap has an OEM+ vibe to it, by using proper wiring looms, retaining the air-con and making sure the factory instrument cluster works.

‘All parts used in the conversion are new,’ says Flyin’ Miata. ‘We use as many factory parts as possible in order to ease servicing in the future, right down to the rubber in the motor mounts. All functions of the car continue to function, from the stop/start button to all the factory gauges to the infotainment system. The one system that is deleted is traction control. We also remove the electric power steering and install a hydraulically assisted unit with a variable ratio.’

2016 Flyin' Miata Mazda MX-5 V8 conversion

A host of further upgrades are offered, should you feel the need for more speed – including a 525bhp/489lb ft LS 376/525 engine upgrade and a carbonfibre driveshaft. In any instance, your newly muscled-up MX-5 will unquestionably go like hell.

Does it still handle well?

It’s claimed that the conversion adds 113kg to the MX-5’s kerb weight, which isn’t an entirely unreasonable amount. The stock front/rear bias shifts fractionally, too, from 52:48 to 53:47. Factor in the upgraded suspension, braking and steering systems, and the net result should be a sweet-handling, grin-inducing convertible with a charismatic exhaust note.

Flyin’ Miata states: ‘We've taken great pains to retain the Miata's handling and character, and expanded on it with the improved feel of the hydraulic power steering. Far from being an uncontrollable monster, the car remains as friendly as the original and is able to gain excellent traction off corners. This is probably the biggest surprise anyone gets while driving, how easy it is to control.’

Sounds great, but surely there are better options for the money?

In the US the Miata… sorry, MX-5, starts at $24,915. So, add the cost of the conversion and you’re looking at a minimum of $74,910. Yup, that’s almost £57k for an MX-5, albeit one with a V8.

That’s a lot of coin for a 2/3rds scale Corvette. For comparison, in the US, the Corvette itself starts at $55,400. But then C7s are everywhere in the States – and it’s hard to beat the sheer fun you can have in a small car with a monstrous engine...

Read CAR magazine’s long-term Mazda MX-5 test here

2016 Flyin' Miata Mazda MX-5 V8 conversion

By Lewis Kingston

Formerly of this parish. Inveterate car buyer and seller; currently owner of a '68 Charger project car

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