I've Really Killed My MX-5 This Time, So This Is The New Grand Plan

My famous little MX-5 has been through the mill lately, and this time, it looks like Phil's engine really is dead. So here's my new grand plan...
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If you’ve been following the popular Project MX-5 series on our YouTube channel, you’ll know that Phil, my trusty, turbocharged steed has had a tough time of it in recent months. After getting turbocharged and gaining almost double the power, a lot of extra strain has been put through the old 1.8-litre BP-ZE engine, which resulted in blown oil seals while at the Nurburgring and general rough running.

Rescuing Phil from the Nurburgring
Rescuing Phil from the Nurburgring

After rescuing Phil from the ‘Ring and getting the seals replaced, boost pressure was then upped (see video above) and I drove away (with a very angry-sounding clutch) with over 250bhp at the crank. ‘Great’, I thought, ‘this is now one of the fastest MX-5s in the country’. (Not the fastest by any stretch of the imagination, but still damn quick).

Well, after trying to start little old Phil up the week before last, I heard a loud bang coming from under the bonnet, which sounded as though a heavy piece of metal had fallen to the ground and through my heart like a Hummer-punch that inextricably imploded my world, tied me up and buried me underground with 100kgs of TNT, a lighter and 10 crocodiles that hadn’t eaten for 1000 years…

The engine cut out immediately, and since then, Phil has been in hibernation. Again.

252hp at the crank was eventually too much for Phil to handle...
252hp at the crank was eventually too much for Phil to handle...

Until my buddy Gareth and I strip the engine and take a look, I won’t know what the damage is, to either the engine or the turbo. But one thing’s for sure: Phil is/was/will be again my daily and I’m all through with him being less than reliable. So there’s only one thing for it…an engine swap!

Tom's Turbo Garage: LS3 V8 Miata Build - Project Thunderbolt
Tom's Turbo Garage: LS3 V8 Miata Build - Project Thunderbolt

So then, what are my options? Well, V8 swaps are popular, but I don’t fancy going down that road, partly because of our insane fuel prices (did you know that we pay approximately $9 per gallon in the UK?!), coupled with the fact that the MX-5’s fuel tank is pretty small, meaning more regular fill-ups, and ain’t nobody got time for that!

You guys are also crying out for me to look into a rotary swap, which would keep the car Mazda pure, but again, it’s not something that grabs me because reliability and smooth running is very important to me.

What does really appeal to me is a six cylinder engine. Naturally, a BMW M52 2.8-litre engine is right up my street, but without cutting into the firewall and massive fabrication, it’s not feasible on a budget.

Could the MX-6's 2.5 V6 be Phil's new heart?
Could the MX-6's 2.5 V6 be Phil's new heart?

After some digging on the internet and conversations with MX-5 friends, I’ve discovered that a Mazda-sourced V6 would work very nicely indeed. The 2.5-litre KL engine as fitted to the Mazda MX-6 and Ford Probe GT would also keep the car in the Mazda bloodline, and would provide great power (around 200hp), reliability, and an engine and exhaust note sweet enough to do really bad things to.

Here’s a short video of one such car that already has the V6 swap, to give you a little taster of what may be coming to the Project MX-5 series in the next few months…

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So to all of you who ask me how Phil is and what the plan is, this is your answer. Obviously, however, it’s very early days, but I’m excited at the prospect of maybe having a V6 MX-5 as a daily.

What are your thoughts, and what other options should I consider?



Im not sorry lol

08/25/2016 - 11:50 |
296 | 2

Jesus! Not pretty!

08/25/2016 - 11:54 |
176 | 4
Alex Kersten


08/25/2016 - 11:50 |
14 | 8

Are you seriously being downvoted because people don’t like your choice? I expected a bit more respect from CTzens

08/25/2016 - 12:46 |
0 | 0


08/25/2016 - 15:29 |
0 | 0

Do it!

08/25/2016 - 11:53 |
0 | 0

What about trying to find an MS3 engine? (Mazdaspeed3)

08/25/2016 - 11:54 |
56 | 0

Quite hard in the U.K.
Love the ms3 tho

08/25/2016 - 12:06 |
10 | 2

Sounds like a sweet plan! I’ve looked at V6 swaps too and the other option is the Jag V6 from the X-Type, I’ve seen these done with not too much fab work and you’re good for 200+bhp. My ideal would be an inline 5 but they’re tricky to find. Good luck with it Alex!

08/25/2016 - 11:54 |
32 | 2
Alex Kersten

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Cheers Sam! A 20V Turbo from a Fiat Coupe would be amazing, but I just don’t trust that engine…

08/25/2016 - 12:03 |
48 | 0
Joshua Lue

Its time !!!!

08/25/2016 - 11:57 |
940 | 2

thats a million dollar car m8

08/25/2016 - 12:38 |
24 | 64

YES! All of us should do a crowd funding campaign for this project LOL :D

08/25/2016 - 14:57 |
82 | 0
Bring a Caterham To MARS

In reply to by Joshua Lue

The ONLY MX-5 that looks better with an aftermarket bumper

08/25/2016 - 19:43 |
4 | 0
ElTiooJonny (#404GermanNotFound)

In reply to by Joshua Lue

What if he swaps a VTEC engine onto it? We now they don’t have a lot of torque, but its an mx5, it doesn’t need too much, and these engines are usually pretty light…

08/25/2016 - 20:01 |
42 | 0

When your daily becomes a racecar…

08/25/2016 - 21:28 |
6 | 0
I am Chinese Rick Harrison and this is my CT account(RS6 FAN

Don’t think,do it!!

08/25/2016 - 12:00 |
0 | 0
Luca Car Mods

Forge phill and MORE BOOST!

08/25/2016 - 12:02 |
0 | 0


08/25/2016 - 12:05 |
0 | 0
Daniel Busker

have you considered a sr20? its allready turbocharged so you dont have to do that again and it’s a 4 cylinder so it should go right in and the engines are really strong (didnt one in a thatdudeinblue vid have like 500hp on stock internals?) but if you go v6 i personally wouldnt go for the mazda v6 because it sounds terrible in my opinion, maybe you can get something like a mercedes v6 YOOOOO I JUST HAD THE GREATEST IDEA WHILE WRITING THIS COMMENT! ENGINE FROM A SLK 32 AMG! A 3.2L SUPERCHARGED V6. sorry i lost it there for a bit but that would be epic as hell

08/25/2016 - 12:06 |
144 | 6

oow dont forget 354HP

08/25/2016 - 12:06 |
34 | 2

The sr20 sounds like a good idea. Maybe a k20 for another option. But if he is going for 6 cylinders, i kinda wanna see a 2jz miata.lol

08/25/2016 - 15:41 |
20 | 0

You can’t really get 500 on stock internals, standard gearbox can’t take more than about 450 anyway

08/25/2016 - 17:52 |
0 | 0

350 is an achievable number for daily use and reliability and only needs a few mods to achieve; Turbo, fuel pump, injectors, intake & exhaust and could do cams. 300ish is considered stage 1 on an SR20

08/25/2016 - 17:54 |
4 | 0



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