John Hennessey of Hennessey Performance Engineering built one of the fastest cars in the world, the Venom GT, by taking a small, extremely light car and stuffing an oversized V8 engine in it. Take a small car, add in a big engine and almost always you will end up with something absurdly fast. The guys at Flyin’ Miata know that lesson all too well and is what inspired them to start making the compact Japanese sportscar faster in the first place.
Flyin’ Miata started out building and selling turbo setups for Miatas, but began offering V8 swaps in 2009. Since then, the company has built countless first- and second-generation Miatas with various General Motors LS engines swapped into them. However recently they shoehorned an LS motor into a third-gen car for the first time and let Road & Track have their way with it on some twisty Colorado back roads.
The Miata, nicknamed “Atomic Betty,” has a 420 horsepower LS3 engine under its hood hooked up to a Tremec T56 manual transmission. The clutch is described as being “barn door stiff,” while the gearbox “feels like it was plucked from the Trans-Am glory days.” Even so, R&T says the third-generation car handles the V8 swap better than the lighter first- and second-gen cars and feels “as if Mazda and General Motors joined forces to create the one Miata to rule them all,” which would be amazing if it actually ever transpired.
The package, when paired with Flyin’ Miata’s optional big brake kit, will cost you $42,995 and includes warrantied GM driveline components and the donor NC Miata. That’s awfully close to the price of a C7 Corvette Stingray and several other competitive performance cars, but after reading about the fun R&T had in Atomic Betty, we might opt for the Miata. Read the full road test review here.