Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Miata Engines in Other Cars -

For those who don't automatically swap a V-8 into whatever rear wheel drive vehicle they have access to, the Miata drivetrain is a very sensible choice. While the Zetec and Ecotec have many merits, I think there is great value to the fact that the Miata engine and transmission were factory engineered to work together. Does this really make a difference? Probably not too much. But, to me, it feels "right" and it certainly makes things much easier, in my opinion. With the Miata, you buy your drivetrain "ready made" and simply need to install it.

To my knowledge, Miata drivetrains have been transplanted into Locost / Caterham / Lotus Seven-style race cars, Datsun Roadsters, MGs of various vintages a Triumph Spitfire and an Austin Healy Sprite. I've put together here a list of the swaps that I have found on the Internet. In the world of print, Grass Roots Motorsports began a series, in June 2007, on doing this transplant into an early-year MGB. They don't seem to have it in their on-line archives; I may scan the story at some point. But, until then...

If you know of any such well-documented swaps, please drop me a line & I will post them here.

By the way, click on the photos to visit the sites referenced.

This guy, Bob, has a fabulous website documenting his complete-home-fabbed up-grading of an Austin Healy Sprite. Not only has he swapped in a Miata drivetrain, but he's replaced just about everything else in the car. It runs now & sounds great.
Not much to see here other than a couple overview shots of the engine bay and some project specs. Here is another photo of a very tidy swap into some other MGA.
This guy doesn a fine job of documenting the key elements of his Caterham build with photographs and text. His link to the documentation of the work is at the bottom of the intro page. He went with EFI, not carbs, and did some custom work on the transmission (for mounting) and cooling system (for flow). I found a video of his first start here.
Wade is the first person I know of who has swapped a Miata drivetrain into a Datsun Roadster. His car is a '66, like mine. He did his swap as part of a frame-off restoration. Also, he used a 6-speed transmission, which seems to be narrower than the 5-speed. The photos tell the story.
Although it doesn't have as many photos as the others, this swap chronicle is very informative. The Spitfire is a tiny, tiny car so it is valuable to see how he got around the problems that the swap posed.
This site documents the insertion of a Miata 1.8L into a 1973 MGB. While not a methodical how-to, there are good photos of the modified engine and transmission mounts necessary, as well as the alterations to the radiator that they did. To move through the pages, enter the numbers 2-10 between the "miatab" and the "." in the web address.
I don't know if this counts as a swap, but it's a MG replica kit car that uses the Miata 1.6L engine. There's really no useful technical information on the pages, nor interesting photos of the engine and drivetrain.
This site is only photos of swapping a Miata engine into a pre-1959 Nash Metropolitan. You get an idea of the transmission tunnel and engine bay mods, though.
Like the kit car above, this insertion of a Miata engine into an old Morris Minor is more than just a "swap". This fellow built an entire frame to allow himself to use all Miata running gear along with the drivetrain. It looks like quite a project. The website is still being updated occasionally.