5k: It’s About Time: 1995 Mazda MX-5 Miata with 13B Power
The RX-7 was powered from the factory by various generations of Marzda’s rotary engine, but recently we’ve seen (and featured) many versions with engines swapped in from other cars. The problem with the Wankel isn’t just that it blows up like Alec Baldwin at the slightest sign of the paparazzi, but also that it is misunderstood and often pulled when it needs simple TLC. It is nice, however, to see a rotary engine swapped into a non-RX-7 body, in this case a car that should have had rotary power from the beginning. Find this 1995 Mazda MX-5 Miata with 13B power for sale in Los Angeles, CA for $4,000 via craigslist.
The MX-5 was launched in 1989 with the recipe adapted from the classic British style take on the roadster, 2-seats, soft-top and 4-cylinder power. The resulting car was great in the turns, but lacked some high-end ooomph and it is surprising that Mazda never put a version of their already in production 13B Wankel engine. It weighed less, was more compact and put out more power than the Mazda B-series engine…but initial cost and durability issues kept it in the RX-7 platform.
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Not once in all the times I've been wrenching on my Miata(s) have I stared into the engine bay and thought to myself, "You know what's missing here? Apex seals. Apex seals, and 13 MPG. That's what would make this car great."
Marc, you hit the nail right on the head!
You forgot to mention side seals, no torque, emissions that would make Al Gore turn over in his grave (is he still alive?)… and 8,000+rpm of win. All in a package that weighs around 260lbs dressed (vs. the 1.8l Miata engine at 289lbs).
Power is probably around 130 – 140hp in the 13b on the low end (close to what the stock 1.8l engine has). It doesn't go into specifics as to which variant or which RX7 it came from. From which it came. Whatever. It in theory could be as high as 280hp but I seriously doubt it due to the traditional distributor cap (vs. coil packs) and no apparent turbo(s) in sight.
Fuel economy in this package is probably around 20-21mpg, so not ideal… but the compact size of this engine probably makes it feel like the car rotates around its gear lever in the corners.
At least, thats how mine felt.
Bottom line: A 13B in a Miata is probably not as much of an improvement as the amount of labor it took to drop it in there, but in my opinion its better than putting a V8 out over the front "axle". Also, GLWS (good luck with smog).
I agree give me the 1.6 or 1.8 and 30 mpg !
Well said Mark. It is the best selling sports car in history and one of the most successful platforms in motorsports for a reason. With minimum care, the engines are robust and lend themselves nicely to mods for more power. My daily is a bone stock 1.6 with over 200,000 origional miles and counting. Lurking in the garage is a built, turbocharged 91 Miata which has routinely dispatched Z06 and 911 at both Autocross and Open Track events. Aside from a lower CG, I fail to see much up-side to a rotary.