’96 Mazda MX-5... V8

It’s tempting The used car treasure hunt


Ready-made Mighty Mouse

COST? $21,000

BESIDES the short-lived turbo SE model that graced Australian shores from 2004- 2005, Mazda’s MX-5 has long left us wondering, “what if?”

What if, for example, you were able to shoehorn a snarling V8 from a much larger car into the lightweight confines of the MX-5?

Sounds far-fetched, but in the quest for speed to match the MX-5’s agility, the tuner crowd has been playing Frankenstein this way for decades.

While a bunch of different V8s have been shoehorned into an MX-5’s short snout, the 4.0-litre “1UZ” V8 from the defunct Toyota’s Soarer has proved to be a running favourite.

It’s nowhere near as powerful as some US units, with around 225kW/385Nm, but it doesn’t have to move much mass.

In fact, at $21K for this example we’ve found, it’s a cheap lesson on what Carroll Shelby’s AC Cobra was all about. And you wouldn’t even have to pick up a spanner to answer that nagging question.

2009 Corvette ZO6

Ultimate brawn

NEW US$72,125

NOW $116,000

IF YOU’RE in the market for pure brawn, a V8 in an MX-5, no matter how light the Mazda is, just won’t do.

You’ll have to point your search engine east to the US of A, the land of big bent-eights, where from 2005 to 2013 the Corvette Z06 ruled, powered by the largest small-block V8 ever produced, the legendary LS7.

Dry-sumped and hand-built, this 7.0-litre unit lathered the Z06’s fat rear tyres with 375kW and 637Nm, and spun to a 7100rpm redline.

Bolted into an aluminium chassis with track-oriented suspension, the LS7 propelled the Z06 to a 330km/h max.

Its $116K 2016 price tag is more than it cost new, but whipping Ferraris will be fun.