It’s a conversion that has undoubtedly been done in almost every chassis known to man by now, for the simple fact that the LS platform offers out-of-the-box power with perhaps the largest aftermarket support of any motor in the world, and remains ultimately reliable. It was all these traits that led Donovan Brook to complete his own conversion in his MX-5 NA.
Sourced from a wrecked 2004 HSV R8 Maloo, the engine is a tight squeeze for the MX-5’s small frame. However, it can be made to fit snuggly. Donovan has stacked the coil packs on top of each other, as the clutch master was in the way, and a minor amount of sheet metal was cut and formed in the bay — although nothing structural.
“The front subframe was a part of the kit from the US. Unfortunately, the headers were made for left-hand-drive cars and the steering rack was in the way, so they had to be binned,” says Donovan.”
He chose to back the package with a T56 that has been fitted with a Paul Manuell quick-shift kit. It’s a fair sight larger than the MX-5 example, meaning that the firewall had to be widened roughly 50mm either side and the shifter moved 20mm forward of the factory position. A Commodore diff head, fitted with an Eaton Torsen centre, has been used — the rear subframe needing to be modified to accept it, a result of it snapping in half from the torque. The axles are custom units twice as thick as the Commodore’s own and retaining the 4x100 stud pattern. Wilwood six-pots have been used up front.
The car has gained roughly 130kg, bringing it to about 1100kg in total. The weight split has been kept at a balance of 52 per cent front and 48 per cent rear, and the almost-tripled power from the stock motor more than offsets the difference.
ORIGIN CHASSIS: 2004 HSV Maloo R8 (VY) CAPACITY: 5700cc CONFIGURATION: V8 BORE/STROKE: 99x92mm COMPRESSION: 10.25:1 ECU: GM Delco (tuneable) IGNITION: Individual coil packs POWER: 285kW/520Nm WEIGHT: 192kg (fully dressed, dry) NOTES: All-aluminium construction, six-bolt main caps, factory front sump