• Is This Lifted, LS-Swapped Mazda MX-5 Miata Cool or a Travesty?

The Miata is a shapeshifter, it can take just about any form

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This Mazda MX-5 Miata isn’t just any Miata. Hillcimb racing fans amongst you may recognize this as one of Flying Miata’s most insane projects, a lifted NB Miata built for dirt racing that hides a 455 horsepower LS3 V-8. As you can see here, the car, nicknamed ’Zombie Elvis’, is alive and well and continues to bring many smiles per gallon.

’Elvis’ is alive and kicking up the dirt!

Is This Lifted, LS-Swapped Mazda MX-5 Miata Cool or a Travesty?
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Mazda conceived the Miata to be an efficient, compact, and enjoyable sports car. From the smiling, pop-up headlights-wielding NA MX-5 Miata to the current, much more aggressive ND Miata, the recipe has stayed just about the same. As you’d expect with a lightweight, small, and agile car, many Miatas became race cars and we’ve seen them everywhere: from endurance races, to drift events, and the common autocross but few have been seen on the dirt. Zombie Elvis is one of them.

Is This Lifted, LS-Swapped Mazda MX-5 Miata Cool or a Travesty?
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Built as a bit of a showcase of what the guys at Flyin’ Miata can do - as if we needed any more proof that they are amongst the best when it comes to anything Miata-related - the high-riding, blue-and-green Zombie Elvis has an interesting history as it was given new by Mazda to Flyin’ Miata back in the day as an R&D car.

At first, the car, known simply as 'Elvis', ran with a 2.0-liter stroker turbo kit installed before becoming the first NB to receive a V-8.

Matt Horn, Flyin’ Miata team member and part-owner of the car said that the car languished for a while in a corner of the Flyin Miata shop after its drivetrain was removed to be trialed on the then-new ND chassis a few years back.

Then, Horn and other team members decided to breathe new life into Elvis and that’s how it morphed into Zombie Elvis. Adjustable coilovers give it the many inches of extra ground clearance (but there’s no lift kit involved here) that are partially concealed by a gigantic splitter in the front. That, in turn, is balanced out by a wing in the back.

The rims are Keizer Racing aluminum units and they were originally wrapped by Cooper M/S Evo tires but the car now sports way fatter Hoosiers in the back. And by ’fatter’ we mean those are 29x11.5-15 tires. How did they fit in there? A lot of cutting, grinding, and welding as Brian Ruble explains in the video.

Is This Lifted, LS-Swapped Mazda MX-5 Miata Cool or a Travesty?
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To make it perform as a hillclimb car - the car competes in Colorado-area gravel hillclimbs - a T56 sequential transmission was fitted along with a hydraulic handbrake.

The gearbox sends all of the power to the back axle making it a bit less efficient up the hill than some AWD race cars but whatever it loses in time it makes up in smiles. With an eight-gallon tank and full-on roll-cage, you can be sure the fun sessions can be quite long and can be done in full safety. Yes, we wanna have a go too!

Michael Fira
Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read full bio
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