In our ongoing search for unique engine swaps, here’s one we almost walked right past. At the November 1st 2012 Cobb Tuning First Thursday event in Austin Texas, we spotted a very clean early Miata and didn’t pay it any particular attention. After all, at Cobb Tuning the emphasis is on turbocharged cars with considerably enhanced output. What could just another Miata offer to the attendees? Wrong!
Looking closely, we were surprised to see a V-8 swap – but not the usual Ford or Chevy engines this time. Meet the Toyota 1UZ-FE engine swap: an all aluminum 4-liter DOHC V-8 used in Toyota and Lexus luxury cars from 1989 thru 2002. And note how well it fits: short, compact, room for headers, and the hood is at stock height. With an oversquare (big bore, short stroke) design, this engine revs well and already has a well-deserved reputation of reliability as delivered by the factory (which in this case, certainly did not foresee this use of their engine).
Unfortunately, the owner was nowhere to be found, so we don’t have the full details of the transmission (Toyota Supra 5-speed), and we didn’t see any cutting, but the rest of the swap was terrifically clean. Clearly the car was stripped down to the bone, and painted inside and out. Overall this is probably the cleanest and most professional V-8 Miata swap we’ve seen, and certainly the most interesting. In our humble opinion, V-8 Miatas are becoming a bit common these days, when powered by Ford or Chevy. It’s time to put modern engines into these cars, and the Toyota 1UZ engine appears to be the perfect choice.
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