Turbo V8-Powered Miata “Turtle” Thinks It Can Take Chevy Nova, Spins Right Out

As some of you already know, this week is Sick Week, with the Florida-based drive and race event bringing together some 350 street-legal cars. Racers are driving in from all parts of the country and one of them is Mr Mattman with this Mazda Miata “Turtle”, an NA-gen that’s been dialed up to well over 1,000 horsepower.

As we discussed when introducing the Hoonigan Camaro Z/28 yesterday, ensuring a vehicle can handle a four-figure output is the most difficult part of building such a car. And while this enthusiast has been working on his Gen I Mazda MX-5 Miata for a decade or so, things don’t always go according to plan.

For one, during Day Three of Sick Week 2022 (heavy rain canceled Day Two racing, so this is actually the second day of timed 1/4-mile shenanigans), the Turtle Miata spun its way out of a race against a Chevy Nova.

Sure, the Chevrolet Nova is one of the smallest muscle cars to have come out of Detroit back in the day. But seeing this example, possibly a 1969 car with forced induction, lining up next to the little Japanese roadster still made for a spectacular sight.

Alas, the drag radials of the Mazda, which are wrapped around 18-inch wheels, lost traction just as the vehicle was getting out of the hole. So, the MX-5 started going sideways even before passing the Christmas Three, spinning its way through the 330-foot part of the race as the Chevy was relentlessly sprinting towards the finish line.

Fortunately, the two vehicles didn’t touch, while the Mazda managed to stop before hitting the wall, albeit not missing the concrete barrier by much. The Miata returned to the pits by going through the departed Nova’s lane the other way, but later returned to deliver a time sharper than that of the Chevy while racing a Fox Body Mustang—this Maza is an 8s car for now.

You’ll get to see both races, along with some bonus battles in the first clip below, which comes courtesy of the Drag Racing and Car Stuff YouTube channel. Oh, and we’ll discuss the Twin-Turbo LS Swapped “Uncle Sam” Gen 3 Camaro at the 1:40 timestamp in a dedicated article (the thing pulled a 7.1s quarter-mile run on its first attempt!)

What is the spec of the Turtle Miata?

Late last year, the NA Mazda Miata Turtle blew its LM7 V8 borrowed from a 2005 Chevy Silverado (a piston was gone, while there was also cylinder head damage). Back in December, Mr Mattman managed to complete the work on a new LC9 aluminum GM 5.3-liter V8, which is showcased in the second clip below.

And with the fresh motor having received stronger internals (it’s still on the stock crank, though), the enthusiast could upgrade the turbo, going from the 85mm unit of the previous engine, which made around 1,100 hp, to a 92mm—this is still a Bullseye unit. As for the cylinder heads, these were fixed and placed on the new engine. Naturally, the goal is to go deeper into four-figure output territory, but, as seen in the spin that brought us here, putting the power down brings challenges of its own.

Note that the third clip below, which was uploaded in November last year, allows us to check out the rest of this blood-sweat-and-tears Miata project (just ignore the engine bits).

As such, the Turtle Miata features an FTI Level 5 Powerglide tranny featuring an air shifter—the latter’s consistency helps with data logging—while the final part of the clip sees the aficionado taking us under the vehicle to talk about the hardware that sends all that muscle to the wheels and the suspension.

The trunk is occupied by the battery (new hardware in the original location), a fuel cell, and an ice box to keep that intake air temps in check, and as for the Wilwood 11-inch, four-piston front brakes, we’ve already talked about their contribution above.

This enthusiast has put a lot of time into his car over the past ten years, while handling the paint and some of the fabrication himself, so this part of the Turtle Miata story is just as engaging as seeing the Mazda attending Sick Week with a 7s quarter-mile goal in its crosshairs.



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