You know how it is - you have ideas for projects that, if you just had the time and the money (and the skills and tools and a fully stocked garage and...), you could so totally have that ultimate driving machine you've always wanted. We've all had them, and for the most part, they're wild flights of fancy that if pursued could cost us our jobs, our marriages, even our very sanity. Well, here's another one.
It started with Matt Farah on /TUNED - "In 1962, a man from Texas decided he wanted to go fast. Luxury was not on the list of priorities, nor was building a car with totally unique styling. No, he thought about only one thing - power to weight. By dropping the biggest engine available into a lightweight British roadster, Carroll Shelby created one of the fastest, most terrifying supercars the world had ever seen." This of course was talking about the famed AC Cobra, and Mr Farah used it to introduce another Texan doing crazy fast cars just because. This thought started percolating in my brain, and combined with some other thoughts. Follow me, if you can.
What is the best car out there? The answer of course is Miata, no matter what the question is - it's the everyman's everything car: drifter, track beast, daily beater, fun cruiser, everything you want in a car that doesn't involve the words "tow capacity" or "passenger space". But how can we improve on it? First is to make the already light MX-5 even lighter than it already is, by looking across the pond to a little kit car manufacturer by the name of MEV Ltd. Yes, I speak of none other than the Exocet:
But wait, there's more. I was daydreaming about the Exocet in the middle of a conversation about engine swaps with a coworker. "V8's are what all the engine swappers are using these days," he said, "but they're so big and heavy, you just can't put them into anything without slowing them down or throwing off weight distribution." My brain perked up - I had been reading about MotoIQ's excellent FD RX-7 v8 project, and remembered that the new LS motors from GM are screamingly light and much stronger than the old iron lumps SBCs used to be. Would it be possible to combine the two?
So galloping off to the internet I went, and found out a few interesting things. The biggest one of course, is that Flyin' Miata not only handles Exocet kits (and is coming out with a new track specific one in the near future - full roll cage, splitter, wing, the works), but they also handle the conversion bits to install a v8 into a regular Miata. Think of it - there's already kit parts to turn a Miata into an Exocet, and kit parts to put v8's into Miata's, this could be a lot easier and cheaper than it sounds like.
The other big thing I discovered is that I'm not the first to even think about this, as someone's already made a v8 Exocet, by the name of WarMachine:
I'm okay with that, dude has made his doriftu specific Exocet to his specs and the parts at hand, but I want an EFI fed modern, light engine, not a big old lump fed by a carburetor. I think you could make a v8 Exocet with an LS motor and it'd be insanely powerful and much more closer to the original pure-MX-5 weight and balance. Still, gotta love the sound of that big old lumper pounding out the torque for that light little car.
I think - remember, this rambling diatribe started out with "if I had the money or the time..." etc, so don't take this as me announcing the start of a new project - that this would be a very doable vehicle and could possibly answer all of your vehicular needs (except for "what drives great in the snow and ice?" and "I just want air conditioning to keep me cool in a traffic jam"). It's not insane amounts of power, but it is an incredible amount (the E-ROD LS3 puts out 430hp, and similar torque figures) for a car that will end up weighing well under a ton, even if you decide you want a track beast and go for the full roll cage, front splitter, rear wing, and a windshield. You could daily drive it for most of the year, even in the MidWest (either full face helmet, or windshield and wipers). It will definitely be the most unique vehicle in the lot, unless you work at a place like Hennessey's in Texas. And I can only imagine the sound it would make.
And let's not forget the low cost! A wrecked donor Miata for next to nothing (remember, you don't even need the engine, tranny or dif, just the suspension bits, and you can sell off everything else), a used LS engine and Tremec T56 (you don't even need the Magnum, you don't want to tempt yourself and try to put too much power under the hood of such a light car) for about 5 to 6 grand, the Exocet kit for another 6 to 7 grand, and the v8 conversion bits, that's it, and almost all for under $20 large. Go fancy, get all the bells and whistles you want, and say it's equal to the cost of a brand new Toyobaru twin (plus many man hours of work, and at least 5 hours of cursing, flinging tools across the shop, and visiting the ER for stitches).