Driving a V6-powered Mazda MX-5 Rocketeer

There is something wrong in this picture the auditory. I am seeing a Mazda MX-5 Mk1, but it seems to me, to listen to a Jaguar F-Type, full V6 trumpets, the exhaust crackles and all.

The MX-5, the world’s most famous sports car race, has always been a bundle of fun, but it was never quite like this. What is going on?

After all, through the MX-5 of 27 years and four generations, the factory has never built a really powerful. Never a turbo (except now, in the Fiat version, the 124 Spider), and never more than four cylinders.

A missed opportunity? No, the factory has always said. The sports car has always been the lightness, simplicity and balance, not brute force and insane speed. Yes, the optimization of the sector, he said, and supported with numerous forced induction conversions the most, in US, a little shoehorned-V8.

However, very few have gone the V6 route-making the MX-5 Rocketeer see here something of a novelty. It is the result of Bruce Southey: day of work, a Ford ‘user experience’ engineer; previous life, a partner at Overfinch, that stuff huge engines in the Range Rover to great effect, hobby, design of interesting car stuff and get it to work. Among the above projects, the engineering of the Bristol Fighter.

With a MX-5 in his garage, that he wanted to make it faster, Southey had a stroke of genius. “I like the MX-5,” he says, “so I wanted to keep what it has the agility, the immediate response and give more. So it’s not a turbo, not a V8, that could overwhelm him. Something like a V6 Alfa, maybe? Then I stumbled on this engine, and I understand that would be ideal.”

This engine is the Jaguar variation of Ford’s Duratec V6, 3.0 liter capacity, with 24 valves and installed one of the first years of the 2000 S-Type, 240bhp. Its engines powered the various X-Types, and the Ford Mondeo ST24, but the S-Type version for longitudinal mounting makes it ideal for transplanting in the Mazda, as Southey the 3D scan of it is shown immediately.

As the ideal becomes more clear when you learn that the V6, with its aluminum block and heads, weighs the same as the original iron-block Mazda. And with a suitable adapter plate, designed by Southey, mates the original Mazda transmission, which is able to take the torque. The final original is preserved, as are the original springs and shock absorbers.

So what changes on the Mazda there of his heart? Most significantly, the front subframe. The standard item, and does not leave space for the V6, the exhaust manifolds, so Southey has designed a new space where it is needed, but the strength retained. It is not our one-off prototype, using a modified version of the tubular element for the V8 conversions, but will be part of the Rocketeer kit that Southey the intention to sell at £5995 plus VAT. For this, you must add the engine the same, readily available second-hand for a few hundred pounds, plus a second MX-5 1.8 throttle body and idle control valve. Or two in every case the starting point is already 1.6.

That sounds like a lot of money to shower on an old Mazda, but it makes sense when you look at what is in the kit. First, though, what is a Jaguar V6-powered MX-5 like? And would one?

Your resistance will weaken as soon as the engine catches. It’s the stuff deeply, his one-note brass drain noise, with a crackling-crisp edge. This prototype has the six-speed gearbox was optional in some of the first MX-5, moving less snickety five-speeder, but the ratios closer. It is not necessary with the V6 torque, but it adds to the sense of near-continuous push.

There is a lot of that, full of pull from low revs up to the limiter, all in a light vehicle, that seems to have very little inertia. This prototype is running on six small throttle bodies, the assumption of which sit very close to the hood of the lower part, with a breathing restriction which flattens the pace after 6000rpm, but the Rocketeer kit includes a pair of proper carbon fibre plenum, fed by those MX-5 1.8 throttle bodies, and should rev to the sky.

Even the way it is, the Rocketeer feels Porsche Cayman fast, looks fantastic, and its chassis and suspension coping well. There are a lot of grip, helped by 195/50 R15 Toyo Proxes T1-R with larger tires Rota wheels, and large-scale for ultra-precise racing wheel on the throttle in such a way that a turbo conversion, or a nose-heavy V8, it may not. The tail skids on an instant whim should be slippery, but it is just as easily brought back in line. It is a complete dynamic joy, and all the best to hold the road, I feel that the standard, soft suspension offers.

So what do you get for your money? You get the subframe, a plug-and-play motor frame and the CONTROLLER is compatible with all MX-5 electrical system, a double tube exhaust system, including manifolds, flywheel, and crankcase (both fully machined, custom elements), adapter plate, clutch, carbon fiber plenum rooms, electric, water pump and all hoses, filters, supports, and fasteners required. Plus instructions of course. The kit is suitable for Mk2s and Mk1s, and a weekend or two and see the transplant completed.

Southey has need 25 deposits before he can trigger the production of Rocketeer kit. In the meantime, is the construction of a second, Mk2-based prototype with the representative of pre-production parts. The first is an absolute hoot to drive and I, for one, wish him well. You can find more information here.

John Simister