What happens when you combine a Japanese compact sedan with a V8?

The Mazda Miata has developed a reputation over the years for being a very practical car. While you won't see it headlining any exotic trade shows, the Miata's developed something of a cult following for its ease of customization. These customizations aren't just racing stripes and new upholstery—oh, no. Since the 1980s, the Miata crowd has been mounting custom V8 engines inside the frames of these tiny cars.

If you're not familiar with what that entails, lemme' break it down for you.

A Miata (left) next to a regular Sedan. Courtesy of Flickr

Miatas are pretty small cars. Almost all of them are just two-door vehicles that can only comfortably seat two people. Additionally, most are pretty low to the ground, with many models only getting around five inches of clearance above it. Additionally, most Miatas have less than 50 inches of ride height, meaning that the average American (with an average height of 5'9") stands comfortably above one. Most importantly, Miatas only weight around 2,000 pounds. Compare to a Honda CR-V, which is often more than 3,400 pounds. This small size and low ground clearance make for a car that handles exceptionally well. 

Enter the other part of the equation: V8 engines. These automotive behemoths get their name from the distinctive V-shape of their pistons and are considered to be top-of-the-line in terms of raw engine power. For perspective, original model V8s were first used on speedboats and aircraft. Mounting one inside a Miata usually adds at least 250 pounds worth of weight to the vehicle. 

So, what happens when you mount an engine that size into a vehicle whose primary feature is its small size? 

This happens. (Make sure to watch with the volume on.)

The end result is something like if hornets had wheels. You end up with the world's smallest muscle car. A Polly Pocket Road Rocket. A back alley stock racer for ants. 

Several different Miata V8s have been able to clock speeds north of 170 MPH. Wow. 

While the process is street-legal, it can be a tricky one if you aren't experienced with car conversions. Several automotive groups have sprung up around trying to pack as much power into these vehicles as possible, with the most notable being Flyin' Miata. Established in the 1980s, this group supplies specialty conversion kits for custom Miata enthusiasts. It's worth noting that retrofitting a car is a specialty process that's outside the purview of most mechanical garages.

If you are interested in something like this, make sure to have a well-informed conversation with your mechanic before committing to any parts.