Selecting Your Donor Vehicle

Which Miata is right for your Exocet build?

First Generation (NA) 1990-1997

NA6 1990-1993

Engine: 1.6 L (98 cu in) B6ZE(RS) I4 115 hp/100 ft-lbs
Weight: ~2150 lbs


Notes on 90-93:

  • Peppy engine, lightest overall build
  • Driveline is great up to around 200hp
  • Viscous limited slip differentials are worn out by now, Torsen swap possible
  • Nearing 25-year-old antique/historic car status

NA8 1994-1995

Engine: 1.8 L (110 cu in) BP I4 129 hp/110 ft-lbs
Weight: ~2220 lbs


Notes on 94-95:

  • Larger 1.8L engine
  • Pre-OBDII, so allows or easy emissions compliance in certain states
  • Torsen LSD Available

NA8 1996-1997

Engine: 1.8 L (110 cu in) BP I4 133 hp/110 ft-lbs
Weight: ~2200 lbs


Notes on 96-97:

  • OBDII, so emissions equipment must be retained in certain states
  • OBDII allows cheap datalogging through the ELM327

Second Generation (NB) 1999-2005

NB1 1999-2000

Engine: 1.8 L (110 cu in) BP-4W I4 140 hp/119 ft-lbs
Weight: ~2300 lbs


Notes on 99-00:

  • Better flowing heads, significantly improved torque curve
  • Great for overall turbo power due to 9.5:1 compression ratio
  • Returnless fuel system (only one line to run)

NB2 2001-2005

Engine: 1.8 L (110 cu in) BP-Z3 143 hp/120 ft-lbs
Weight: ~2350 lbs


Notes on 01-05:

  • Intake Variable Valve Timing (VVT), which can improve midrange torque substantially with tuning
  • VVT actuator on valve cover is tall and requires careful hood positioning
  • 10:1 Compression ratio

Mazdaspeed 2004-2005

Engine: 1.8 L (110 cu in) BP-4W Turbo 178 hp/166 ft-lbs
Weight: ~2540 lbs


Notes on the Mazdaspeed:

    • Factory Mazda turbo option
    • Gear limited to 125mph – high revs at highway speeds
    • Due to higher cost, it may be more effective to add an aftermarket turbo to another NB donor

Your state's specific requirements on emissions may make certain years more desirable to you.

Research your registration requirements with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles or through the SEMA Action Network’s Tag & Title Toolbox which contains everything you need to register and title your hobby car in the US.

Tag & Title Toolbox

Other Considerations

ABS Miatas

Notes on Miatas with ABS brakes:

  • Will work, but not recommended due to increased build complexity/weight
  • With training, you can learn to stop significantly harder on clean surfaces without ABS
  • If you lose grip on one side with Miata ABS, it reduces braking on the other side as well

6-speed Miatas

Notes on 6-speed Miatas (1999-2005):

  • Close ratio
  • Accepts more power than the 5-speed transmissions
  • Feel is generally agreed to be slightly inferior to the 5-speed
  • Usually includes a taller rear end which will require more shifting

Automatic Miatas

Notes on automatic Miatas:

  • Somewhat rare option
  • Compatible with the Exocet
  • Torque Converter saps power
  • If you are not physically limited, a 5 or 6-speed manual transmission is preferred

NC MX-5 Miatas

Notes on the 2006-2013 NC MX-5:

  • Totally different design, closer to an RX-8 than an NA/NB Miata
  • Not compatible
  • Not to worry – there are over 700K NA and NB Miatas out there

V8 Power

Notes on V8 options:

  • GM LS series or Ford 302
  • The Exocet is compatible with our V8 subframe and driveline kits
  • CTS-V and Ford 8.8 are popular rear differential options
  • T56 6-speed Transmission

Rotary Power

Notes on Rotary power:

  • Rotary engines fit in the Exocet engine bay
  • Follow similar steps to building a rotary-powered Miata
  • Lightweight and great position
  • Will require custom front subframe modifications and/or additional fabrication

Motorcycle Power

Notes on bike-engined Exocets:

  • How about a Hayabusa?
  • Follow MotoIQ’s Miatabusa build
  • Lots of custom fabrication required

Other Donors?

S2000, 240SX, MR2, E36, BRZ, FR-S, or AWD driveline swaps?:

  • Sorry, not compatible
  • Very extensive modifications would be required
  • The Exocet is designed around the Miata drivetrain and suspension
  • Mount-less front subframe available for custom engine installation

View Example Builds

See how others have built their Exocets and get ideas for your own build by browsing our sample builds.

Have more questions about which donor components are right for you?

We’re here to help. Each builder approaches his Exocet project with different goals and objectives. Let us know what questions you have and how we can help you plan your optimal Exocet build.

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