Mazda MX-5 Barra swap! Carnage episode 41

Will a Ford Barra engine fit in our Mazda MX-5? Only one way to find out!

Videographers: Scott TAYLOR

WAY back in the heady days of 2017, Scotty and Aiden convinced me to buy the worst Mazda MX-5 in Australia. The original plan was to find a different kind of Mazda, namely a DB 121 – the infamous ‘bubble’ model – convert it to rear-wheel drive and stick a twin-turbo LS motor in the front. All in the name of chuckles, of course.

Instead we bought the MX-5 and worked like mad to get it ready for Red CentreNATS in just a few months. And with lots of help a bunch of legends, particularly MPW Performance, Powerhouse Engines, Allfast Torque Converters, LsXtreme and All Race Fabrications, we made it!

We then refined the car, spanked it at Summernats and Powercruise and returned to Red CentreNATS in 2018 – where we cracked the nine second zone with MPW’s Luke Foley at the wheel.

With that taste of victory, we wanted more! That was supposed to come in the form of a 5.3-litre iron block swap, but our hopes were dashed when the engine we bought proved to be dud.

Rather than take the gamble again, Scotty decided to pull the pin on the LS deal and go Barra! After all, we already had a perfectly good LPG-spec Barra on the shelf, ready for boost with uprated valve springs and head studs. Plus we had the turbos and wastegates from the previous iteration, a killer Powerglide and some bits and pieces left over from the Toxic Avenger Ford Territory.

Of course, this all came together in the last few weeks of 2019, with Street Machine Summernats 33 our goal. This video will cover the basics of how the swap was done, while the next episode will cover the wiring, tuning and the other 1000 little jobs that needed doing. In episode three, we’ll give the MX-5 a new identity and head to the Nats!

Thanks again to everyone who helped make this happen, starting with our Carnage sponsors – Valvoline, Ryobi and Hare and Forbes. As you’ll see in the video, Scotty uses their products all the way through. And we couldn’t have done it without Zane and the crew from Maxx Performance or Bill from Everything Barra. Thanks also to Allfast Torque Converters, Bling Designs, Haltech, Plazmaman, Speed Parts, Tecalemit, GCG Turbos, Tuff Mounts and Turbosmart.

And a personal thanks from me to Scotty and Kian, who worked overtime to get our Carnage cars ready for Summernats. Your blood’s worth bottling!