The Mazda MX-5 series sports car is loved by many and derided by possibly just as many so-called sports car purists who suggest that these diminutive little sports cars aren’t real sports cars. Yet the car once dubbed as a ‘hairdresser’s car’ in Essex (men can be hairdressers too) has been an unequivocal success since its launch in 1989, selling over 400,000 models between then and 1997. Now we have a version of the Mazda MX-5 that even the moaners will have to begrudgingly admit has some real muscle. Forget the 1.6-litre engine of the original launch edition; the Rocketeer has a 3-litre V6 engine.
When a sports car features a naturally economical engine, it’s not unusual for aftermarket power boosting kits to appear, and the MX-5 has been subject to such customising for a long time. And that includes a previous Rocketeer MX-5 incarnation from 2017. Mazda has always addressed any criticism levelled at them for under-powering the Mazda MX-5 by arguing that the ethos of the car is all about lightness and daily driving simplicity rather than excess power and speed. Which certainly leaves a space for Rocketeer to step into with some Porsche-designed, Ford Duratic V6 power.
Rocketeer argues that the ‘benchmark driving dynamics’ of the little Mazda is not being fully tapped into with the conservative engines that the sports cars ship with, thus a naturally aspirated V6 will bring the performance level up to what the car is actually capable of.
So why not go all out with a V8 install? Well, Rocketeer felt that this was simply overkill and the added weight would not sit well with a car that was designed to be light and nippy, hence the Duratic V6.
The company chose the high revving aluminium Jaguar version of the V6, a popular choice among some aftermarket racing car builders. The engine ticked all the right boxes in fact, and crucially didn’t upset the fore and aft weight balance that the car had already been designed to cope with. Each engine comes as a stripped and rebuilt unit with new bearings, gasket seals, plus new piston rings, exhaust and induction. What Rocketeer gives the Mazda MX-5 is about 270bhp and 240lb ft torque, giving an impressive power to weight ratio. Each new engine can even be specified a little differently (if you know what you’re doing).
0-60mph is now at just under 6-seconds and uprated suspension and braking help to smooth out the extra power. Indeed, the Jaguar V6 is not exactly known for not being smooth in the first place, so all in all, this should be a real pleasure to drive, with a much improved vocal sound to boot. Badging is subtle, with an understated MXV6 on the rear along with a couple of equally understated Rocketeer logo badges.
Rocketeer hasn’t really done much else with the car, but the company is considering ways to improve chassis rigidity with the possible addition of an anti-roll bar. Despite any shortcomings, Rocketeer has so far completed around 80 Mazda MX-5 V6 conversions even at a cost of about £10,000 – that’s surely around 3 times as much as an owner might have paid for the car in the first place.
Arguably, this is a totally illogical upgrade conversion; but that doesn’t mean the end result isn’t pretty fine and a lot of fun.
Image Source: TopGear.com
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