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The Staff of Motorsport Marketing
The Staff of Motorsport Marketing Writer
11/27/17 11:35 a.m.


Story and photos by Robert Bowen

Most of us who drive late-model iron often catch ourselves dreaming about a perfect vintage ride: something old but not ancient, reliable, good-looking, and fast enough for modern traffic. Of course it would have to be leak-free and light on required maintenance—a machine that allows more time for driving over wrenching.

That modern-engine-plus-vintage-car combination would seem to be the ideal way to enjoy an old car with the best of recent technology, but many such conversions are cobbled together or rough around the edges. It takes someone with attention to detail and the eye of an artist to engineer a truly clean swap.

Mazda USA Technical Specialist and old car nut Brett Stierli might be just that kind of person. He seems to have found the perfect combination of vintage tin and new heart in his Miata-powered Cortina.

Brett’s choice of engine is no surprise—Mazda issues his paychecks, and familiarity with the marque dictated his decision. But why Miata? Because that model has a very popular drivetrain for swapping into other rear-wheel-drive platforms. The engine has proved to be tough and reliable with a smooth-shifting transmission and enough power to be interesting.

“I always wanted to put a new motor into an old car,” Brett explains. “I have a Mazda background, so it was natural for me to look for a Mazda project. I started out with an engine from a wrecked 2001 Miata and looked for a car to do an engine/powertrain swap.”

Read the rest of the story

wspohn
wspohn Dork
11/27/17 11:52 a.m.

Nicely done project.

Needn't have looked that far for an engine candidate, though.  Up here in Canada, unlike the US, we got the Mk 3 Cortina - the next body style along, and it came with the SOHC 2.0 engine also used in the Pinto, that had far more scope for development that the old pushrods.

Have to agree that a modern engine with modern management is several steps beyond that, though.

RossD
RossD MegaDork
11/27/17 12:11 p.m.

That's a pretty car with a nicely executed swap. Just pretty all the way around. yes

Robbie
Robbie PowerDork
11/27/17 12:31 p.m.

Awesome. That is basically exactly what I plan to do with my miata 1.6 motor and my MGB-GT I have sitting in my garage! Hopefully mine will turn out almost as nice.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
11/27/17 12:32 p.m.

MGBs and Miata engines are a perfect match.

I dig this Cortina as well - and I could have told him he'd have trouble what that immobilizer laugh

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
11/27/17 1:15 p.m.

That is really, really well done.

The only other option I would have considered would have been a Duratec/MZR 2.0 or 2.3l.

Very, very cool.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
11/27/17 1:23 p.m.

Funny, I once suggested buying an engineless Alfa GTV and putting a Miata drivetrain in it and was told it was a terrible, awful idea.

bentwrench
bentwrench Dork
11/27/17 1:26 p.m.

I'll take the Cortina with a Duratec 2.4L (or equivalent) please.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
11/27/17 1:37 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Funny, I once suggested buying an engineless Alfa GTV and putting a Miata drivetrain in it and was told it was a terrible, awful idea.

If there was a modern Alfa equivalent engine, that would be fine. Replacing a Ford engine with a Ford engine (the BP was in a few Ford cars) seems fine.

Or if you find an $1000 GTV, you can do whatever you want.  Last time I saw one of those was 15 years ago.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
11/27/17 1:48 p.m.

So a Chevy engine in an MG is okay, but a Mazda engine in an Alfa is not? cheeky

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
11/27/17 2:26 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

So a Chevy engine in an MG is okay, but a Mazda engine in an Alfa is not? cheeky

sue me for pointing out that an Alfa GTV is worth more than a Cortina or MG.  If you want to take value out, it's your money.

Still- I'd personally lean toward at least having an engine from that company.

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
11/27/17 2:33 p.m.

Better to re-power a car with any engine than let it sit and eventually get crushed.  I got tired of people telling me that the world would end if I used anything but a Porsche motor in my Porsche.   I quickly figured out I did not fit in with those Porsche people.  If I had an Alpha I am betting that there would be an angry mob of Alpha owners at me door with pitchforks.

I will say that a GTV6 really needs a V6.  Putting a 4 in it Makes it a "GTV6 - 2"  cheeky  

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
11/27/17 2:44 p.m.

In reply to dean1484 :

Calling them Alpha's would bring out enough pitch forks.

But if you want to take a car and gut it's value, it's your option.

A long time ago, there was a guy who was putting an S2000 engine into a GTV.  Had to cut a lot out of the car just to make it fit.  Ignoring the really badly done interior, taking a car that's worth $20k, spending $15k to modify it, and resulting in a car with maybe $10k does not seem like a good idea to me.  Especially when there really isn't a shortage of Alfa donor motors that drop right in (Spiders rust nicely, but the engines and trans's survive rather nicely being aluminum.  Or you can get a late 164 TS motor that's more modern, and that does not take out that much value, too.  

This car was bought for $1000, and since it's not a Lotus, it's not really worth much to start with.  So it's not as if the owner was throwing money out the window.  Nor was it cut up a lot to make the engine fit (I suspect).  AND the installation was really well done.

Oh, and we are talking the Bertone GT (Jr, GTV, etc) from '65-74 not the GTV6 from the 80's.  The GTV's are worth quite a bit more than GTV6's.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
11/27/17 3:03 p.m.

Ah, at the time the GTV was $7k if memory serves. Had no drivetrain but a nice body. It's not an option anymore, but I remember getting quite a bit of "no, not okay" when I floated the concept.

Subaru engines in the $15k VW buses seem to be well accepted. As do repowers of Land Rovers. I swear that just about every internal combustion engine has ended up in a Series Rover at some point.

trucke
trucke SuperDork
11/27/17 3:47 p.m.

That is gorgeous!  Great build!

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
11/27/17 5:00 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Ah, at the time the GTV was $7k if memory serves. Had no drivetrain but a nice body. It's not an option anymore, but I remember getting quite a bit of "no, not okay" when I floated the concept.

Subaru engines in the $15k VW buses seem to be well accepted. As do repowers of Land Rovers. I swear that just about every internal combustion engine has ended up in a Series Rover at some point.

Start with a $7k GTV, put $2k of work into putting a new engine in it, and it will be worth $7k.  Less if you had to cut the chassis badly to make the engine go in.  Put an Alfa motor in it, and it will be worth a lot more money.   Even if the donor was a '79 Spider.  

Again, it's your money, so if you want to do that, you are welcome to.  But the point of it being "not ok" is very financial.  

It would be a lot better financially to do that with a Spider than a GTV.

Would Singer cars be worth as much if he used a Subaru flat 6?  I doubt it.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
11/27/17 5:11 p.m.

I don't build cars to resell them. Not me personally, anyhow. If a Miata-powered GTV is more fun and easier to live with than an Alfa-powered GTV, then it's a better car. Never having driven both, that's kind of a theoretical exercise.

Spiders hold absolutely no interest to me, so a Spider with a Miata engine is just a crappier version of a Miata. An MG with a Miata engine is an idealized MG laugh Don't ask me to explain.

jimbbski
jimbbski Dork
11/27/17 6:03 p.m.

If you want modern and can afford the higher cost I'd go Ford 1.6 Ecoboost.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
11/27/17 6:29 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

Not sure how I got to be the focus, since this seems like a great swap.

But I will finish with this- a BP swap for this car would be a considerable improvement.  Just like an MG.  But it's certainly not for an Alfa.  And it's not as if I've not driven both, a lot.  It would be a whole lot cheaper and easier improving the Alfa 2.0l and resulting in a more powerful motor than swapping any BP in an Alfa.  Not to say a BP is a not a great motor- it is.  But the assumption that the Alfa 2.0l is somehow the same as a basic 1.6l Kent motor or the MGB motor, well...  

Then again, I'm a real oddball, here- I'd much rather race and autocross my Alfa than a Miata.  I autocrossed my '95 once.  And my GTV hundreds of times.  Never did a lap in my +200k miles in a Miata, spent hours in my Miata.  I'm quite certain that a Miata motor would not make the Alfa any better- other than it running a little better and it having better emissions.

codrus
codrus UltraDork
11/27/17 7:08 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Subaru engines in the $15k VW buses seem to be well accepted. As do repowers of Land Rovers. I swear that just about every internal combustion engine has ended up in a Series Rover at some point.

 

No pistons allowed in an RX-7, though. :)

Daylan C
Daylan C SuperDork
11/27/17 7:40 p.m.

In reply to codrus :

So keep my Honda powered 1st gen RX7 thoughts to myself? 

OHSCrifle
OHSCrifle Dork
11/27/17 8:05 p.m.
alfadriver said:

In reply to Keith Tanner :

Not sure how I got to be the focus...

 

I don't think you are, tbh... 

JoeTR6
JoeTR6 HalfDork
11/28/17 6:06 a.m.

I really like this build.  It's similar to the '73 Capri/Ford Ecoboost I want to do.

Flynlow
Flynlow HalfDork
11/28/17 6:36 p.m.

Wasn't this car featured in GRM a few years ago?  I thought I remembered reading about it a while back...

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
11/28/17 6:53 p.m.

This is a "reprint" of an article from 2008.

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