The Lightning McBarra MX-5 gets a ‘new’ ECU! – Carnage episode 53

We throw a different ECU into our Barra-swapped MX-5 in the hope of getting more power


WHEN Scotty originally decided to Barra-swap our Mazda MX-5 just in time for Street Machine Summernats 33, it was a car built essentially from recycled parts.

The donk was pillaged from our hacked-up ‘Toxic Avenger’ Territory, the turbo and wastegate were borrowed from the MX-5’s original twin-hairdryer LS combo, and a whole bunch of other gear that we had lying around – including the factory Barra ECU – also made the cut.

The Lightning McBarra MX-5 had a decent outing at Summernats, but eventually the recycled parts came back to bite us when we turned the wick up. The best example of that was when the originally aspirated Territory engine completely nuked rod number five, the root cause believed to be a combination of weak rods, a lot of boost and no proper way of controlling that boost.

The LPG Barra we slotted in to replace the ruined Territory engine is famed for its strength and ability to hold big boost. However, Zane Heath of Maxx Performance was less than enthused at the idea of running up another Barra with the old Territory mill’s factory non-turbo ECU, which just couldn’t accommodate proper boost control. But a turbo equivalent of the same ECU could, so Bill Hooton from Everything Barra hooked us up.

It wasn’t long until we hit the dyno again, this time with proper boost control. All was going well until another recycled part let us down. The GCG turbo from the twin LS set-up is a beaut thing, but sitting all on its own on the side of a four-litre six meant it ran out of breath before we could break the 400rwkW mark.

We do have a solution in the works, but that also involves recycling parts from Turbo Taxi. We aren’t giving up though, so make sure you tune into Carnage soon to see the end results.