Why the MX5 and the Mystery Engine!

Back when this project first started, it was all setup for one very specific reason. To find a home for an engine I had been sitting on for some time. To make sure the engine went into the right home, we spent a lot of time waiting for a car that fit what we needed before we dove in head first.

The cars on the list:

  • The Toyota 86 / Subaru BRZ
  • The Nissan 350/ 370z
  • The Mazda Mx5 NB/NC/ND

A driver focused car

Due to my previous history with Supras, I am in love with a driver focused car. Out of the three cars listed above, the mx5 is the only car that, to me, still ticked that box, with the 370/350 coming in behind a close second. But ultimately losing out because of the engine and other issues.

The Mystery Engine Revealed

The engine we have decided to swap into the car is a Toyota 1uzfe. The 1UZ isn’t much talked about in modding circles, but has a place in the hearts of other motorsport fields.

They have a solid bottom end, which gives it the ability to push, decent if not outstanding numbers without being built. Add to this fact that the engine that we are working with is a pre 1994 engine, so it has lower compression, thicker rods and harder pistons and associated bits.

Major bonus, this engine is freshly rebuilt from the ground up. So pushing 500+ Isn’t outside the realm of possibility.


  • Already built from the ground up by a professional
  • Pre existing add ons and upgrades
  • Strong bottom end with torque for days
  • Shorter than an I6


  • Its wide
  • Not nearly as clean a power path as a 2jz
  • Weight
  • Gearbox size (an a340 is massive)

Current Status and Possible Problems

Fitment is our biggest worry with this build. The 1uz is a tight fit, but it will be no tighter than say, an ls build. However, other things such as the gearbox, bellhousing etc are a possible problem we need to consider, as any changes to the material structure of the car to fit these in, will not be allowed.

Emission regulations have also come up as a possible problem. LAws that were rolled out across Australia a few years ago limit the increased displacement in engine swaps before they must be “Engineered” to a ridiculous degree. We will keep an eye on this for possible problems.

Find out the other reasons we chose the mx5 by watching below.