There is no perfect car. Regardless of how good a machine is when it is released, there will always be enthusiasts looking to modify and improve. This even holds true for one of our all-time favorites, the Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Most of us can agree that Mazda’s little sports car is about as close to perfect as one can expect in an affordable machine. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find those who long for more power, a higher redline, and a more aggressive disposition.

David Calzada is one such enthusiast. David grew up a Honda fan, but was deeply smitten by Mazda’s two-seater after driving one at a local autocross. David’s mind was restless after that first drive: He loved the Miata’s agile chassis and rear-wheel drive, but longed for his Integra’s intensity and ferocious climb to redline. The fix was a simple idea, but not so simple in execution: install a Honda K24 engine into a Miata.

Engine swaps into Mazda’s MX-5 are hardly a new thing. From rotaries to big American V8s, the Miata’s engine bay has played host to many different power plants. What made the K24 swap intriguing was that it wouldn’t change the overall nature of the Miata, just amplify it.

As David explains, “We wanted to put the best naturally aspirated engine ever into the best chassis ever.” As a bonus, this engine was found in Acura’s very popular TSX, making good running examples inexpensive and easy to find. After many late-night discussions with friends, David decided to tackle the project, and KMiata was born.

We had a chance to sample David’s creation on a recent visit to Chicagoland, and came away impressed. This is not a typical project car build with sharp edges, rough details and excuses. David drove the car to meet us, and while it’s aggressively built for the track, his creation had no issues dealing with stop and go traffic, idling, or any other day-to-day task. The K24 not only looks like it belongs in the Miata, the difference in performance is striking.

Thanks to a little tweaking, the K24 engine in David’s Miata makes 230 wheel horsepower and 180 lb.-ft. of torque. These are S2000-type power figures in a car that weighs approximately 500 pounds less than that vehicle. To top it off, the redline soars to 8200 rpm, and that transplanted engine makes that unmistakable Honda ripping noise once the VTEC is engaged.

During each step of this build David aimed to simplify, engineer and develop a package that would be easily repeatable–and reliable, too. During our test drive his car performed admirably, without any of the crudeness usually found in builds of this sort. It feels like the Miata was born with the Honda engine; clever engineering of the electronics means even the gauges worked. The car felt as composed as a factory build.

If you’d like to bring your Miata one step closer to perfection, KMiata will sell you everything you need to complete this swap. They can even source a K24 engine for you, build it to spec, and design an ECU around your needs and wants. A total package will run the builder about $8000–the individual parts can be purchased as well–but with the prices of NA and NB Miatas as low as they are ever likely to go, now could be the time to create the MX-5 of your dreams.

This article is from an old issue of Grassroots Motorsports. Get all the latest how-tos and stories for just $20 a year. Subscribe now.

Join Free Join our community to easily find more Honda and Mazda articles.


View comments on the GRM forums
Robbie UltraDork
2/21/17 2:36 p.m.

hmmm, a k series honda mated to a cheap, common, and awesome RWD transmission? nom nom nom

penultimeta Reader
2/22/17 9:34 a.m.

Every damn time I think I'm over Honda, something like this happens. Every time.

Robbie UltraDork
2/22/17 9:45 a.m.

quick ebay search shows k24s at $1k or less all day. Probably could snag one for less than $500.

Does anyone make a rear-sump oil pan for the k series? (off to google I go).

kb58 Dork
2/22/17 4:32 p.m.
Joe Gearin wrote: There is no perfect...

Right there I knew: magazine article. You guys talk weird.

KMiata New Reader
2/27/17 10:53 a.m.

In reply to Robbie. Thanks for the love everyone! No need to source your own pan for this swap, we provide you with the closest thing to a rear sump K series pan, which is included in the swap kit. You can see pics at

Our Preferred Partners