A strange thing happened at this year's Flyin' Miata Summer Camp. The crew hosts a day of seminars covering everything from new products to a timing belt how-to, and this year, a total of 11 V8 conversions showed up in the same room. There are many ways to pull over 400 horsepower from a Mazda Miata, but few are more entertaining than plopping a honkin' American V8 behind the headlights.

The shop routinely plays host to Keith Tanner's delicious Targa Miata as well as the company's NB development mule, Elvis, and his NC sister, Betty, but with six customer cars with FM V8 conversions on hand plus two homebrew specials hanging about, the total hit an all-time high.

No one's throwing out any specific numbers, but estimates put the final horsepower figure at around 4,500 ponies. For perspective, you'd need to amass around 27 stock NC models to crest the same number. Cue the mad-scientist laughter.

This year marked the 15th Flyin' Miata Summer camp, and fans of the brand trekked from as far as Maine and Florida for five days of on-track shenanigans, group drives and seminars by the FM staff. Check it out below as well as a full gallery from the shindig.
Summer Camp at the track


The Flyin' Miata Summer Camp originally got underway as little more than a few close friends swapping tech tips over founder Bill Cardell's barbecue. Since then, the event has grown substantially. This year, over 130 people turned up to take part in the festivities, including plenty of track time. While participants were more than welcome to sign up to cane their own machines around the short stretches of Grand Junction Motor Speedway to compete for FM gift certificates, the real thrill came from hopping into the passenger seat of some of Flyin' Miata's more intriguing development vehicles. Visitors could take a ride in everything from a V8 bruiser to a big-turbo E85 car and even one of the company's Miata-powered Lotus Seven replicas, the FM Westfields.

Talk about effective marketing. Riding around the go-kart track is the quickest way to decide you just can't live without another 100 horsepower to your MX-5's rear wheels.



The FM crowd has made a tradition of descending upon the local Sonic for a cruise-in, and the flood of little Japanese convertibles is something to behold. The impromptu car show gives everyone a chance to rub elbows and catch up on the previous year's events, as well as stick an eyeball on recent modifications. Everything from bone-stock 1.6 NA models to cranked-out NC heathens show up for burgers and shakes. It's our kind of party.

Flyin Miata Summer Camp

The eye of this storm has to be the day of seminars. Flyin' Miata has established itself as a solid technical resource for owners around the globe, and the crew is happy to share its expertise with the summer-camp crowd. Participants can sit in on discussions about new products and changes to old wares, technical how-tos, and Q&As on the company's V8 conversions. You can almost hear the gears spinning in everyone's heads as Tanner details the process of shoehorning a Chevrolet V8 into the engine bay of a Miata.

It'll be another full year before the Miata faithful return to Grand Junction, but we'll have more news from the shop soon. Stay tuned.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 62 Comments
      plarson79
      • 2 Years Ago
      Go to any race track, and you will see Miata's everywhere, and most of them would whoop anything anyone here can bring. I'm not talking about a drag strip, I'm talking about a real track.
        Teleny411
        • 2 Years Ago
        @plarson79
        My friends Fiat Spider, a Miata ancestor, was killing vets on the autocross track. A lot of folks think the only race is a drag race...
      P
      • 2 Years Ago
      Fantastic cars, these are. The LS3 is virtually the same weight as the cast iron block of the stock Miata so the weight gain is only in the gearbox and diff (negligible and inside the wheelbase), maintaining the character of the chassis. But even without a V8, it's one of the most brilliant drivers cars ever made -- Simple, fast around a corner, and infinitely tunable. A track toy for the masses.
      Gorgenapper
      • 2 Years Ago
      Lightweight, RWD sports car with superb handling + monster V8 engine swap (along with other supporting parts) What is not to like? Truly some idiotic comments below.
      imtoomuch1
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is the ONLY way to make this car cool! Otherwise, it's just a chick car or an old man's car. (Yes, I know some younger, feminine guys drive this car.)
        MONTEGOD7SS
        • 2 Years Ago
        @imtoomuch1
        You must still be young and insecure. Someday you'll stop worrying about what your friends tell you is cool.
          torqued
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MONTEGOD7SS
          Yeah, imtoomuch - you come across as really mature. Keep insulting strangers on the internet with clever, high-brow quips like "Limpy McLimp-Wrister".
          montegod7ss
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MONTEGOD7SS
          Do I seem offended? Was a pretty rationale calm response to people who aren't waving their arms around in disgust over a car. Some people mature quicker, and some people take well beyond 35 years old to mature. It isn't hard to figure out where you fall. Go ask your father for a hug, you might need one.
          MONTEGOD7SS
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MONTEGOD7SS
          Having an opinion does not equal being offended or being defensive. If you want people to have the same opinion as you to make you feel good, then try to have an opinion that doesn't make you look like a little kid. You know you're not done and will be reading this, so hello.
          imtoomuch1
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MONTEGOD7SS
          Um no, I'm a mature 35 year old man. You must be one of the feminine boys I was talking about or you wouldn't have gotten so offended. Keep driving limp-wristed. Haha.
          imtoomuch1
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MONTEGOD7SS
          You got defensive. That's a good sign that you were offended. Calm doesn't indicate that you're not offended. That comment was as stupid as you. I'm done conversing with a moron. Keep driving your chick car, Limpy McLimp-Wrister.
        captnclintock
        • 2 Years Ago
        @imtoomuch1
        Shut up already. Are you making fun of his (and other peoples') masculinity to make you feel better about some insecurity that you have?
      crzydavy
      • 2 Years Ago
      Where are all the secretaries? I see their cars, but not the women who drive them. Odd?
        J
        • 2 Years Ago
        @crzydavy
        Oooh, a chick car comment. Please, regale us with more well thought out commentary on what other people drive. We're anxiously waiting.
          crzydavy
          • 2 Years Ago
          @J
          ha ha ha It stings don't it sweetie
        CHEDDARIFIC
        • 2 Years Ago
        @crzydavy
        Wow, all the "women" and "secretaries" at the track every weekend sure are cleaning up on the "men." Odd?
      Myself
      • 2 Years Ago
      A V8 Cobra is an awesome idea and an awesome car. A R4 production Miata is an awesome car. But a V8 ruins everything the MX-5 (or Miata) stands for in the same way as the Mazda's original 1.6 liter engine would ruin the Cobra. A V8 Miata is an idiotic, not crazy, an idiotic concept and whoever designed it shouldn't be allowed around cars.
        Chayil
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Myself
        This is a silly and reckless comment about the V8 Miata. When the Monster Miata came out, the V8 transmission was LIGHTER than the stock Miata transmission. An LS motor is all aluminum and is quite light. These cars are holy terrors both in a straight line and on a road course. Obviously, you know nothing about the swap or you would not have made such ridiculous statements.
        P
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Myself
        Single dumbest commenter I've seen in weeks. By far. "Physics" you say? How does 52/48 balance "ruin" a Miata? How does only 100-145 pounds extra weight "ruin" it (which is centered inside the wheelbase with the beefier gearbox and diff)? The original block is iron, making the LS3 actually about the same as stock. It's just as balanced, just as progressive and just as fast around a corner as a stock-powered chassis, only massively faster. You see, if you were as "mature" as you say, you'd have learned a) a few facts and b) restrained yourself from using the word "idiotic". But since you know nothing, you appear to be...I'm sorry... a total idiot!
          Zeus
          • 2 Years Ago
          @P
          P- we're killin em on this. Used to race a Miata and I laugh every time I read comments like that. Same here man...that is the stupidest comment I have seen in a long time made by anyone about anything. $1000 says if you put this guy in a 400whp Miata he wouldn't know what to do with himself hahaha.
        morckleborckle
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Myself
        By your logic, the cobra was an idiotic concept, and Caroll Shelby shouldn't have been allowed around cars. The AC Ace- the car that would later become the cobra- was originally powered by a ford 2.6 inline 6 cylinder out of a ford zephyr until Mr. Shelby wanted to cram a v8 inside. If you really want to get purist, the flyin miata is closer to what Shelby really wanted- he went to chevrolet for an engine before he went to ford.
          Zeus
          • 2 Years Ago
          @morckleborckle
          Exactly! For some reason V8 swaps always attract the stupidest comments on the internet. It's like they all come out of the wood work as soon as they hear an LS was dropped into something. We see V8 based cars and swaps into things all the time and they work very well, but as soon as you mention them on the internet everyone starts the typical "they add too much weight, they upset the balance" garbage.
        kcroc10077
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Myself
        "A V8 Miata is an idiotic, not crazy, an idiotic concept and whoever designed it shouldn't be allowed around cars." Drive one then we'll talk.
        Zeus
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Myself
        Dude you are an idiot. The physics actually work out to be pretty nice. Or watch these videos and pull your head out of your ass. I can tell you have no idea how to setup a car and you have no idea what you are actually talking about. V8s in Miatas are killer conversions and do wonders for the car. Some people I swear...pull you're head out of your little academic books and then pull it out of your ass please...Watson. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuILPHgBUNY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOj7ETrnQP8&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTr_EAd3_XE&feature=related
      Bart
      • 2 Years Ago
      Typical US thing to do. Strip the soul out of the car and ladle in a crate engine.
        P
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Bart
        The "soul" of a Miata is in its chassis, NOT it's motor. These cars are phenomenal for their handling, which is barely affected by an aluminum V8, and which can be explored further with extra power.
        Nathan Carl Lewis
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Bart
        So American huh? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_Elise_GT1 Soo soo American... With that being said, I guess the Elise guys are up in arms about the Hennessy Venom GT too... And to make it clear. I personally probably wouldn't do the swap myself into a Miata (I have never owned one), but seriously. Its an engine, and everyone's entitled to what chunk of metal they want to throw in their car.
        kcroc10077
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Bart
        If the regular engine is your idea of the Miata's soul then I'll be the soul crusher. I'll take the LS powered car any day. Horses for Courses.
      csrecord
      • 2 Years Ago
      All standing around wishing they had Cobras.
        Randy
        • 2 Years Ago
        @csrecord
        I love the Cobras and all but I'd really like to test drive a V8 Miata. I knew a guy that put a V8 in a Chevy Monza once. It was cooled while it was is once piece!
      gtv4rudy
      • 2 Years Ago
      I always wondered what it feels like to drive a Miata with a big, heavy V8 engine under that little hood. It sure must go like stink ... in a straight line and I guess a trunk load of brake parts to keep it more balanced.
        Generic
        • 2 Years Ago
        @gtv4rudy
        Research it more. An all aluminum LS engine is close to weight at the original cast iron block. A older Ford 5.0 might add more, but I'd want to go the LS route myself.
      Zeus
      • 2 Years Ago
      The amount of idiocy being spewed all over this post is amazing. I raced a Miata for 6 years and I knew a few guys with LS swaps into their cars. They are amazing handling, only add about 100lbs because the LS is all aluminum, it doesn't upset the weight distribution and if you actually TUNE THE SUSPENSION AND CAR to handle the power it's like anything else: it works. People talking down on this are such idiots it amazes me they can even work a key board. How about everyone shuts up and watches these videos before they flap their traps about something they clearly know nothing about: V8 Miata vs Z06: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTr_EAd3_XE&feature=related V8 Miata vs F430: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1OO8GGgwZs&feature=related V8 Miata vs 650rwhp Camaro: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYx85AmbZes&feature=related V8 Miata track day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6W59wjf6PE V8 Miata vs Lotus Elise on track: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6W59wjf6PE Please do some research before you people comment on something you know absolutely nothing about. The guy below saying the v8 Miata doesn't work because "physics watson...physics" is probably one of the most uninformed people I have ever seen post on Autoblog.
        Bart
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Zeus
        Drag Race Drag Race Drag Race Amateur Driving Amateur Driving repeated to prove some point that a 385hp LS Miata will outrun a 211hp Elise given enough space? I get that you're overly defensive. I have nothing against that. But provide actual proof. Not anecdotal evidence.
          Zeus
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Bart
          Here is a video of one of the Flyin Miata guys driving a V8 powered Miata in the Targa: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZq7Rr6h1Bw The point is you can see the car is balanced and handles well if you are experienced enough to know what you are watching. The Elise is 500 + lbs lighter. That is a very significant number when you are talking about 2500-2600lbs vs 1900-2000lbs. I am defensive because it gets so tiring to hear the same BS about "unbalanced" and "too heavy" when people clearly have no experience driving Miatas. Bart I raced a Miata for 6 years autocrossing twice a month and 35,000 miles of hill climbing. The one thing the Miata needs is more power. The LS1 / LS6 have a huge jump in power and torque for a sacrifice of 100lbs. Any experienced racer or track day driver would gladly trade 100lbs for a 100-125% increase in power. The proof is in every single video I showed you. It goes like hell in a straight line and it is very composed through corners and braking as seen in multiple videos of the car at Targa Newfoundland and amateur track days. Just because a person is an amateur doesn't mean they are not extremely skilled. I know a lot of amateur guys who aren't paid who would be pro if they had the money. Remember being a professional driver is a majority of the time not a question of talent, but money. Michael Schumacher was only allowed into F1 because he was the only guy who could pay the teams tire bill. The guy who recruited him said in an interview Schumacher was not the most talented guy, but had the money.
      AXEL
      • 2 Years Ago
      My turbo 1.6 Mx-5 has the same crossmember in it though ;) If I had the money a 5.0 would be in its place though.
        CHEDDARIFIC
        • 2 Years Ago
        @AXEL
        You want an astonishingly heavy iron 5.0 instead of a lightweight 350 pound aluminum LS3, eh? Goodness gracious you're dumb. I mean, really, really dumb. Contradictory comments ("nonsense") and silliness about "crossmembers" really don't help you here. Get an eduction or stick to... Jalopnik, perhaps.
      thedriveatfive
      • 2 Years Ago
      Yes its cool but rotary would be cooler.
        Zeus
        • 2 Years Ago
        @thedriveatfive
        It would be cooler right up until the point where you realize you have no torque, your gas mileage sucks and you go through a ton of oil just to make half the numbers you would on a stock naturally aspirated LS6.
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