You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a 1972 Toyota Hilux powered by a modern Mazda Miata engine.
Yes, such a thing exists, and it’s in Birmingham, England. Before you book a flight to England to check it out, keep reading. We have all the photos and details you’d ever want about this eclectic build right here!
Photo credit: Driftworks.com owner James Robinson
This build took place at Driftworks, a parts shop in Birmingham. Its owner, James Robinson, was the mastermind behind this project. He wanted a fun and funky truck that was strong, fast, and reliable enough to take for a spin (and to do a few “cheeky skids”) on a daily basis. He found the perfect truck: a 1972 Toyota Hilux pickup that was imported from South Africa.
When James got the truck, he felt that it didn’t produce enough power, as the stock 1.6-liter 12R four-cylinder engine topped out at a measly 88 horsepower. He set out to find a much better engine to power his special project, and he eventually spotted the perfect one: a 1.8-liter inline-four engine from an NB Mazda Miata.
James installed a Subaru TD04 turbocharger, so this little truck is pretty powerful. He wrote that it should push over 200bhp. He was pleased with his decision to go with a MX-5 engine, as he called it a "fun and reliable solution".
The swap process was lengthy. James and his team began by dropping the chassis into the MX-5 subframe and it turned out to be a nearly perfect fit! The track width of the MX-5 suspension was a few inches wider than the original Hilux suspension, but they didn't think it was a problem. They had to alter the subframe, body, and suspension system a little bit to accommodate the Miata engine and to ensure a perfect fit all around.
Ta-da! The engine is in!
Extra Parts in This Hilux
Not only did James swap the motor, but he also installed the following parts:
- Motorsport Electronics ME221 ECU
- Subaru TD04 turbo kit
- MX5 turbo manifold, downpipe, and fitting kit
- Radiator from a Land Rover Discovery
- Universal intercooler
Most of the major work is done, but the truck still has a long way to go. James has grand plans for the interior, which needs a lot of work. For instance, he wants to install bucket seats and a retro-looking stereo. He also wants to add a Torsen rear differential to assist with drifting, and he needs to figure out a way to fit the wheels under the Hilux body to allow for proper driving and drifting.
James has been continually posting updates on this project on his forum, where a lot of people are waiting with bated breath to see this funky little truck in action with a Miata engine. You should bookmark the forum and check back periodically for updates (and eventually a video of the truck and motor in action!)