Back in August I took three weeks off of work and drove my 2002 Miata from Colorado to my buddy Justin's place in Tennessee to swap a Honda K24A2 into the little roadster. The drive down was pretty uneventful, thankfully. The car hit 130,000 miles shortly before arriving at our destination.
Just about all of the parts we would need had already been delivered, but there was still some prep work to do. I powder coated my new front & rear tow hooks to match my new roll bar while Justin ceramic coated the KMiata exhaust manifold.
Then came the actual teardown. Justin started pulling components out of the engine bay while I stripped the interior.
This swap doesn't work with power steering (there's just not enough space for the hydraulic lines), so we took my steering rack apart to properly depower it, removing the internal seals and welding the pinion. Reassemble and bolt it to the new subframe!
With the dash pulled and the Mazda subframe replaced with the new KMiata subframe, it was time to crack the donor K24 open for its necessary prep work.
Engine prepped and ready for a new ACT HD clutch, specially-machined KMiata flywheel, and KMiata transmission adapter plate.
In the photo above, you can see the "hump" in the oil pan. The steering rack sits inside that hump. That's why you can't run hydraulic power steering with this swap; there's barely enough room for the rack, and none for the lines.
Motor mounted!! Let's mock up the manifolds and see how they look.
Pretty good! However, some of these clearances are awfully tight...
That's the transmission adapter plate about a hair's width away from the chassis. And this is the exhaust manifold collector flange nuzzling electron clouds with the subframe:
The engine mounts from KMiata are very stiff, so with some additional massaging these clearances should be okay.
And this is where we started to hit some stumbling blocks. Because I don't mind a little bit of functional ballast, I ordered KMiata's air conditioning kit. This A/C kit includes all new custom lines and fittings and brackets; you just have to source your own "universal" compressor, which KMiata identifies a part number for. The compressor I ordered, despite looking exactly like the compressor KMiata shows in their instructions, didn't quite fit KMiata's supplied bracket.
Justin was able to clearance the compressor a bit where it was making contact with the block and shimmed the mounting tabs with some washers to get it to actually mount up "properly".
Then we dropped in the "direct fit" Mishimoto radiator I ordered, only to find the passenger side mounting post wasn't really where it ought to be. We'll need to fabricate a new tab to reach the post.
At this point it was pretty clear that we weren't going to finish the swap in time for me to drive the car back to Colorado at the end of my three-week vacation like I had hoped. Bummer. But at the same time, we made the conscious decision to not rush the work or cut corners, but to do it right the first time, even if that means it takes longer. Could we have spent more time in the garage working on the car? Sure, but we also needed some time away from the project.
So, we decided that I would take a spare Honda Accord Justin had around back to Colorado while he finished the car for me in his spare time over the next couple months, hopefully in time for me to pick it up and drive back to Colorado before winter really set in. Have I mentioned what an amazing friend Justin is!?
Before I left Tennessee, we went ahead and installed my new Blackbird Fabworx NB GT3 roll bar since that's an easier job with two pairs of hands. Here's Justin, glad that we finally got it in place.
I really like this roll bar. The gold powder coat is a pretty darn good color match for my wheels, even if it doesn't look like it in this photo because of the uneven lighting:
That's the last photo I took of the car, back at the end of August. The car hasn't progressed much since then, because unfortunately about a month later, Justin had a low-speed motorcycle accident and broke his left wrist and right shoulder. He had surgery in October and started physical therapy a few weeks ago, so he's on the mend but it will take time. I'm just glad he's okay; racecars can wait.
So yeah, hopefully I'll be able to take some more time off of work next year to take the Accord back to Tennessee and finish the K24 swap in time to get some seat time with it in 2021.
And in the meantime, the Volkswagen R32 I just bought has developed a coolant leak! Joyous.