The craziest Miata, and the first ND to have a V-8 crammed under the hood

The word “Miata” means different things to different people. To Mazda, it stands for complete success, since the MX-5 has always been one of the best-selling two-seaters ever made. To those of us who love to do the impossible, the word Miata immediately invokes visions of any crazy mod we can conceptualize without having an aneurysm. The Miata has long been a favorite go-to for harnessing lots of power in a little package, but the guys over at Flyin’ Miata are taking things to a whole new level with the fourth-generation model.

Just released for the 2016 model year, there really haven’t been too many intense builds of the ND Miata – until now. Apparently, the ND you see here was sitting on a lift with no heart to speak of, when the guys at Flyin’ Miata decided to cram their plastic, V-8 test block under the hood. To their surprise, it fit, and their newest project got underway. It’s not the first Miata to undergo a V-8 conversion, but it is the first ND-gen model to obtain such a transplant.

According to the second entry of the project diary on Flyin’ Miata’s website, the ND-gen model actually requires less modification to the chassis than the previous NA- and NB-gen models. But, before I got too much into that, let’s take a look at the car these guys have put together and talk a little about it.

  • 2016 Mazda Miata "Indy" ND V-8
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:


2016 Mazda Miata "Indy" ND V-8 Exterior
- image 683815

At this point, “Indy” isn’t exactly done yet, so there’s a good chance that the exterior will change by the time the product is done. For now, the hood has a gray graphic that comes to a point on the front fascia and gets increasingly wider as it moves closer to the rear. There is also a reddish pinstripe that runs parallel to it on the passenger side. There is also a number on the door and a few “Flyin Miata” decals placed here and there. For now, however, that looks to be the extent of exterior modifications.


2016 Mazda MX-5 Interior
- image 566916

Note: Interior from standard Mazda MX-5 Miata shown here.

We have yet to see any shots of the car’s interior, but I suspect it will probably remain stock. After all, the idea behind the build isn’t to wow people on the inside; it’s to wow people on the outside with the plentiful horsepower created by the V-8 under the hood. There will likely be some minor modifications to handle all the electrics required to make the engine swap work, but I wouldn’t expect to see much outside of a few add-on gauges and maybe a custom infotainment system to accompany all the new electronics.


2016 Mazda Miata "Indy" ND V-8 Drivetrain
- image 683821

And this is where the bulk of this build has been taking place. The guys over at Flyin’ Miata managed to cram a Chevy LS3 under the hood, complete with a K&N air intake system to go with it. At this point, we’re not sure what modifications were made to the engine, but in a video you’ll see a little later, it is noted that the engine has 525 horsepower. Hopefully, when the car is done, they’ll be willing to drop full performance specs for us.

2016 Mazda Miata "Indy" ND V-8
- image 683822

How the Miata will perform with all this horsepower is really up in the air at this point. Obviously, the LS3 is heavier than the Skyactiv unit, as is the T56 transmission that is bolted to the back of it. Shockingly, the weight differential really isn’t that much. The engine itself only weighs 195 pounds more while the transmission only adds and extra 43 pounds to the mix. Combined there is a weight increase up front of just 238 pounds. The LS3 is also a little bit longer, but only by what looks like six inches or so. The transmissions are nearly identical in length – one of the main reasons why the swap is possible without hacking away too much at the engine bay. The other big change, is the hydraulic steering swap, as the electric unit that comes standard in the Miata is huge and would make a V-8 swap practically impossible. These guys really did look at everything, huh?

2016 Mazda Miata "Indy" ND V-8
- image 683820

Underneath the car, the guys managed to get the differential lined up and installed just right, albeit with added reinforcement to tackle all the extra power being sent to the rear wheels. And, believe it or not, with the engine, trans and hydraulic steering in place, there is no loss of ground clearance over the stock setup. Pretty wild, don’t you think? What’s more, is somehow the team responsible for the build managed to run true duals from the heads back in 2.5-inch pipe with an X-pipe in the middle. And, it just wouldn’t be a custom build without dual exhaust pipes exiting in the center.

2016 Mazda Miata "Indy" ND V-8 Drivetrain
- image 683828

And, it lives, as you can see in this short video of the engine running. It’s not done yet, but let’s face it, you couldn’t resist starting it up for a second either.


2016 Mazda Miata "Indy" ND V-8 Drivetrain
- image 683825

Normally our reviews include price and competition, but I’m not sure I want to know how much this swap set Flyin’ Miata back. I’m sure it wasn’t cheap. Furthermore, when it comes to custom vehicles like this, it’s pretty hard to call anything a true competitor. Maybe once the car is done, they’ll be kind enough to show us some sweet videos of the car doing its deed on the track. Either way, this is one wild build, and to the best of our knowledge (and Flyin’ Miata’s claims) this is the first ND-gen Miata to get a V-8 heart transplant. That said, I’ll be keeping my eyes on this project and will update this review accordingly. By the way, Flyin’ Miata’s most recent newsletter says the car should be ready to go by the time of its Summer Camp event, so it’s obviously pretty close to completion. If you want to check out the full build diary, you can check it out here.

Source: Flyin’ Miata

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: