magnaflow muffler resting on workbench
close up of welding exhaust tubing together
underside carriage view of an ls swapped mazda miata on a lift
rear view of an ls swapped mazda miata bumper
moroso air/oil separator n a metal table
inside a mazda miata interior during ls swap project
ls swapped miata project in process
man filling an ls swapped miata with fuel

To get the perfect, drone-free exhaust note we was looking for, we picked up a pair of these Magnaflow high performance stainless steel mufflers (MPE-11226)

We used more Summit Racing V-Band Clamps (SUM-694250) on the rear section of the exhaust for a permanent leak-free connection.

Here’s the complete front to back exhaust system. It was a time consuming process, but a fun and challenging one too.

Miata’s should’ve come from the factory with dual exhausts…and a 525 horsepower V8, of course. The Summit Racing stainless steel exhaust tips (SUM-690052) add just the right amount of bling.

This Moroso Air/Oil separator (MOR-85474) will keep oil mist from entering our LS3 engine and causing all sorts of dirty mayhem.

The stock Miata interior is simple, good looking and ergonomically perfect—unless you’re over 6’ 2” tall. Then it’s utter torture.

All four wheels on the ground for the first time in nine months!

With the fluids full and all systems checked out, it’s time for the first start and drive. Check out the video below to see how it went!

In this episode, you’ll see the most thrilling, yet nerve wracking moments a car guy will ever experience—the first start and drive of a newly built car.

But we had some work to do before turning that key. We finished the rear section of the exhaust, reinstalled the stock interior bits, added a Moroso air/oil separator to keep the intake tract clean, bolted on the fenders and bumper, and made the final modifications to get the Corvette Z06 air intake snorkel to fit properly and feed the hungry LS3 an all-it-can-eat buffet of fresh, cool air.

When all that was done we bled the brakes, checked every nut and bolt for the zillionth time, and filled the Miata with fluids and fuel. Then came the moment of truth when the key was turned and—well, you’ll have to watch the video to find out what happened!

Check Out the Entire Project Thunderbolt Series Here


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Author: Alan Rebescher

Editor, author, PR man—Alan Rebescher has done it all in a 25 year career in the high performance industry. He has written and photographed many feature stories and tech articles for Summit Racing and various magazines including Hot Rod, Car Craft, and Popular Hot Rodding, and edited Summit Racing’s Street & Strip magazine in the 1990s. His garage is currently occupied by a 1965 Ford Mustang.