Transplanting a Rotary Engine Into a Miata

Update by Ed Higginbotham to the Mazda Rotary Miata project car
Jun 30, 2016

Our first actual step in the build seemed simple enough: Take the 13B rotary engine out of the donor Jensen-Healey and shoehorn it into the Miata. Mike had already created a front subframe to cradle the 13b. He took measurements and trimmed any interfering metal by dropping a spare engine into the Miata to use as a template.

However, once we had removed the engine and transmission from the Jensen and tried to shoehorn it into the Miata, something became apparent: Mike had provided a good subframe to mount a rotary engine in a Miata, but had not taken into account the space that a turbocharger would take up. The clutch slave cylinder was also touching the firewall. That meant we had a lot more cutting and welding in our future.

But for now, all we had to do was set the drivetrain in the Miata’s shell. We were going to load the unfinished car on a trailer, collect everything that Mike had intended to go in the car, and transport everything to Asheville, North Carolina. Once in Asheville, our friend Steve Eckerich had generously volunteered space in his shop and use of his extensive collection of tools and fabricating equipment.

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