|June 1, 2012 - Ever wonder what happened to the original Targa engine?|
It was sold to a Miata enthusiast named Nate. Then it sat around the FM shop for some time as we waited for Nate to get the chance to drop his car off and for FM to have the time to work on it. And finally, after all this time, it's ready to head off to a new home in Michigan. And yes, there's still a brass plate on the cover that states that it was built for the Targa Miata.
It's been detuned a bit for street use. The cams have been changed out for stock ones, the intake is the modified stock one that was used during the race and the header is a standard Racing Beat unit. It did drop a bit of power but it's much better mannered in day-to-day driving. The car got a number of other upgrades at the same time, such as a V-Maxx suspension and seam welding.
Before installing the engine, FM gave it a once-over. There was a small fluid leak from the head gasket in one corner so that was fixed, and the bearings were checked out. They all looked good with the exception of the rod bearings. Those ones were hammered! The bearings were simply failing. Not due to starvation (this engine has always had very high oil pressure), but just due to stress. We swapped in some new ones to take care of that, as all the clearances were good. This is an engine that has about 6000 really hard miles on it, by my estimation. Not just the Targa itself, but lots of track days with multiple drivers and a redline set at about 8000 rpm. About the only time it wasn't being driven flat-out was during the transits during the race. Otherwise, it was getting caned. To put it into perspective - the very successful Miatas I worked on at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill did about 1900 miles during that race. This engine has gone around three times that distance. What a trooper.
One or two people asked about buying it because of the value of the parts inside - it was cheaper than buying a stroker kit and the head. No sale! I wanted to see this engine stay together.