Alex Kersten profile picture Alex Kersten 5 years ago 449
Tuning

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...

Remind me later

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…

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?