This particular British green MX-5 has become somewhat of an institution within the local grass-roots drifting scene. Why? Well, its owner, Kieran Stewart, defies the rules of physics by squeezing his almost-seven-foot frame under the hard-top and pedaling it like an absolute madman. Dedicated to sticking with a naturally aspirated (NA) 1800cc motor that, at its best, was only punching out just shy of 100kW, it was a formidable opponent against many a high-powered car, favouring speed and momentum over outright power. This saw the pair stepping up to tackle the Link ECU D1NZ National Drifting Championship Pro-Sport class, managing to hold its own as the most underpowered car in the field — but even wringing the poor thing out to 8500rpm couldn’t see it progress.
Kieran told us that, after a failed attempt to make a highly strung–yet– reliable B7 using 4A-GE and B16A parts, the call was made to seek a little more capacity and open up the door to almost endless parts options. The original plan leaned towards a Honda K24, although this would prove too difficult due to the oil pump location. Keeping it within the family, an NA Mazda MZR LF two-litre, better known to some as the ‘Ford Duratec’, was chosen instead.
“The LF is extremely common; cheap; lighter than the 1.6-litre; [has] more torque; and, because of the UK-built Caterhams that use them, NC MX-5s, and the Ford community, there are lots of upgrades available for them … even crate motors from Cosworth,” said Kieran.
Factory examples can make anywhere from 110 to 130kW, and, with light modifications, can jump upwards of 150kW at the fly. Kieran’s own example has an M-Spec Fabrication individual throttle body (ITB) adaptor to fit 4A-GE blacktop throttles, while SMS Fabrication constructed the engine mounts. Using an ’07 MX-5 front gearbox housing from the five-speed mated to the old sixspeed, it bolts straight up to the motor with an NC clutch. A Link plug-and-play ECU has been used and tuned by Reaction Racing.
The car will retain the C’s Garage knuckles and Bilstein suspension that it previously ran, along with the Kayne Barrie Motorsport–built Cusco 1.5-way diff, full cage, and mixture of 14-inch Japanese wheel goodness.