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Old 07-27-2017, 05:30 PM   #1  
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Hello! I've been mostly lurking on these forums for the last 2 years, and recently started asking a few questions about an LFX conversion. I've learned a lot from reading previous build threads, and I hope to be able to contribute to the LFX swap knowledge base as I take this journey.

I've read the FAQ's, and on my 'ability' scale, I'm somewhere between needing to watch youtube videos to change the oil, and too dumb to realize when I'm in over my head. None the less, I'm stubborn, and not afraid to turn wrenches, watch more youtube videos and cut stuff up. This should be fun!

At this time, I'm only the point of having completely disassembled the vehicle (I plan to do some body work/refinish while I'm in here, so I've stripped down to a completely bare chassis.

Here she is when I bought her a little over 2 years ago:



Had right at 123K Miles and some ugly body/refinish work by PO. None the less, I had the 'I need a toy' bug that couldn't be satisfied, and it looked good from 20 ft, and seemed to run good, but blowing a little smoke under hard acceleration.

Since purchase, I've enjoyed the sunny weekends (I live in a rural/mountainous area of southwest Virginia. This car was made for these roads!), but always wanted to do the V8 swap (until I learned of the LFX option). I spent some money having the heads rebuilt to try and stop the smoking, but no joy. I did make myself a promise that if I ever had to remove the engine, it would *NOT* go back in.

This is her on the night of her last ride:


I let my daughter take the car on her senior prom. High heels, 125K miles, and a driver who's only driven a manual a handful of times was more than she could bare. I got a call around midnight that the car wouldn't 'go'. The clutch was done for. I managed to limp her home and then towed her up my steep driveway with my truck.
That's when the plans for the swap began to take hold. I've got friends in the salvage business, so they are hunting for a quality Camaro donor. In the meantime, I've stripped her down, will start cleaning it all up, cutting/welding the frame rails, lizard skins the floors, etc. etc.

This is her as of tonight:



So, that's where I'm at and the journey begins.
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Old 07-28-2017, 12:18 AM   #2  
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Old 07-28-2017, 07:34 AM   #3  
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So I thought I should throw out a few of my goals/plans for this build. I tend to think/plan in broad strokes and then try to go back and work out the details. Probably a bad thing on a project like this, but it's who I am. As such, I'm still struggling through some contradictions in my own thoughts.

My mind keeps wandering to 'Show Car', but then I quickly come back to the reality that I want to drive this thing, not just park at a car show, wash it and put it back in the garage. All of my decisions have been geared around making this a comfortable cruising car (when I say cruising, I mean through beautiful mountain roads and vistas at a decent speed, but not flying off the side of a ridge ) I have a little interest in autocross, and I'm only a couple of hours from VIR raceway, but realistically, I may see little time at those places if any.

So, unlike most doing these conversions, I want to go with an automatic transmission. But, to satiate the need/desire to row through gears, I'd like to enable TapShift on the 6L50 trans. I also want to do away with the gear selector and go with a push-button trans controller. I also believe getting creative with the push button controller would free up some console room to make some real cup holders. Again, this is a cruiser, not a race car. I just want it to be fast when I want it to be.

As for the trans issues, I've been researching the PCS controller (https://www.powertraincontrolsolutio...utton_Shifter/). I believe this would be functional, but I am not fond of the look for the controller. I think Mastershift has one as well, but I like it even less. These also look to be purely mechanical and may get me PRND, but their version of tapshift won't work, and I'm not sure how I would get it into 'M' mode to use the electronic tapshift.

As for paddle shifters, I think if I get the BCM from the donor, I may be able to wire in TU/TD through that module, as well as get electronic CC and do away with the mechanical vacuum system. Also ran into this today : https://ls1tech.com/forums/conversio...ivetrains.html Seems to give me all the BCM needed options without dealing with the restrictions and limitations of a somewhat crippled BCM.

Once the ECM/TCM/BCM side of this is solved, I plan to change the steering wheel to an RX8 with TU/TD. Also adds the benefit of steering wheel
audio controls and move CC to the wheel from the stalk. And I can keep the airbag system. That's important to me.

Thanks for following my journey,

-Mike.
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Old 07-28-2017, 01:13 PM   #4  
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Thanks for sharing your journey.

Beautiful color, by the way. That is the color that my ideal Miata would have been.

From reading your posts it appears that you are setting some lofty goals with respect to the transmission and electronics.
Like you, I put my build on paper in broad strokes then started filling in the empty spaces.

What is your budget?
Within your same budget could you realistically have an LS version or is the reason you chose the LF option strictly due to budget constraints?
How much are you figuring on fabricating yourself?

When I was planning my build, as best I could tell, the cost to buy and install a used LF engine and transmission was just about the same cost as to buy and install a used LS1 engine and transmission with the various Flyin Miata installation kits making the LS1 option a more plug and play solution. What are your thoughts on the merits of the LF install over the LS1 install?
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Old 07-28-2017, 01:42 PM   #5  
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Originally Posted by BGordon View Post
Thanks for sharing your journey.

Beautiful color, by the way. That is the color that my ideal Miata would have been.

From reading your posts it appears that you are setting some lofty goals with respect to the transmission and electronics.
Like you, I put my build on paper in broad strokes then started filling in the empty spaces.

What is your budget?
Within your same budget could you realistically have an LS version or is the reason you chose the LF option strictly due to budget constraints?
How much are you figuring on fabricating yourself?

When I was planning my build, as best I could tell, the cost to buy and install a used LF engine and transmission was just about the same cost as to buy and install a used LS1 engine and transmission with the various Flyin Miata installation kits making the LS1 option a more plug and play solution. What are your thoughts on the merits of the LF install over the LS1 install?
I think you are correct in that LFX vs LSX isn't really about cost. From what I've been able to surmise, the costs will be similar. I think in the same price range however, finding a lower mileage LFX will be easier/cheaper than finding an equivalent mileage LSx.

As for budget, I'm estimating 12K to 15K for the conversion. With some of the other restoration & upgrade items I want to do, I think I'll end up closer to 20K. I've not written up a detailed budget like some others have, as quite honestly, I don't think I want to know until it's done However, I am starting to 'prioritize' my desires and may break them down to discreet phases if the costs start to run away from me, or cash-flow becomes an issue. For example, I want to do a big-brake kit and upgrade the struts to coil-overs. However, That's something that I can push back to phase 2 if money becomes tight, and it wouldn't cost me a ton of labor overlap.

One of the big up-sides for me doing the LFX vs LSx is the fabrication. I'm going to have to buy a cheap Harbor Freight mig welder to get through this, and my welding experience is limited to a few hours trying to learn how to mig in our family body shop almost 25 years ago. The LFX kit needs the boxes cut inside the engine bay, and a tab welded on the diff carrier (just like the LSx), but I can forego the cuts & widening of the transmission tunnel. That's a HUGE benefit to someone like me with minimal fabrication skills.

Also, I think doing an LSx with an auto (4L60?) would have created space issues in the transmission tunnel.

As for 'plug and play', I think the LFX components from V8Roadsters (which is where most of Flyin' Miata's stuff comes from, right?) will be nearly as seamless, if not more so given the lower cut/fab requirements. I may be a little naive and optimistic here, but that's my hope.

While the LSx may make a little more power in native/stock forms, I think the difference will be negligible. Stock tune on the Camaro LFX is 325 HP. I think there's more to be had in an aggressive tune, but quite frankly, I think 325 is more than enough to make this thing a rocket. And a civilized one at that.

My only "regret" may be in the sound. I love that deep throaty V8 idle. I spent many hours on Youtube listening to various LFX exhaust clips and came to the conclusion that I love that sound too. And then I found this clip:

I listen to it several times a week. Keeps me motivated.
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Old 07-28-2017, 02:40 PM   #6  
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Glad you are thinking thru the swap.
Sounds like you have most of the main points covered.

My suspicion is that you are a bit light on the budget, particularly if you include big brakes in that amount. If you start putting other cosmetic stuff into that budget (new top, interior, seats, paint, tires & wheels, etc) you will easily be $10,000 over that budget. All that realistically puts you into the $20,000+ budget. Since you are going into it with a realistic budget, it will keep you from having a meltdown when you are half way done and already spent your entire budget. I know, cause that is what I did.

One thing to consider on the LF -vs_ LS1 comparison would be long term usability and resale value. I doubt that any of us doing this sort of swap have any intention of ever selling but resale value determines a reasonable budget. I am more likely to be willing to put $15,000 into something I can get that money back out of than something that will require the same budget but only have something worth $5000 when the smoke clears. Not sure where each type of swap falls in that respect but it appears to me like the LS swap gives a much higher residual value than a Ford swap, all other things being equal. I would suspect a Honda V6 swap to have a resale just lower than a Ford swap. No idea where the GM V6 swap falls.

The usability factor for me includes long term repairs. At least in my mind, it should be much easier for me to get a mechanic look at stuff on the car that is beyond my meager mechanic skills if the car is not overly complex. All the electronic and transmission related stuff you are talking about putting on the car smells like a repair nightmare 5 years after the project is complete. Just like happens with new cars, all the secondary luxury stuff (paddle shifters, adaptive cruise control, remote entry) gives a greater likelihood that something annoying will become a problem in the future.
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Old 08-01-2017, 02:57 PM   #7  
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I've heavily priced out all six "greater than four pistons" swaps in planning for this most recent one. As most everyone knows I've really only dealt in Ford based V8 Miatas up to this point but the building of 5 of them gives me a pretty good understanding of how the other kits relate difficulty wise.

The Honda J swap and the Ford/Jag/Mazda Duratech V6 swaps are the easiest due to their use of the the Mazda drive line AND the fact that nether requires ANY cutting to the car. The J swap is the least expensive at about $4.5K to $6k over the cost of the car. The Duratech swap is about middle of the road in price mainly because of the cost to ship the very inclusive kit over from England. The LFX and Monster Miata Ford kit are about equal in difficulty and price. Both require a full drive line swap and only require cutting of the "ears" at the back of the engine bay. Both will run you about $10K to $15K over the cost of the car and get you about the same horsepower. The torque of the Ford is greater but the technology in the LFX is newer. One awesome aspect of the LFX build is that you can get an oem engine used with under 10K miles on it for under $2000. THAT is the one big area that the LFX and LSx differ: You may have the same amount in both in the end but not if your LSx engine has only 5K miles on it. I tried pricing out pull out LSx drive lines with the same 5k to 10k on them and the price nearly tripled.

I would have really liked to do a LFX swap this time around but do think I'll be pretty happy with the J32a3, at least for a time. At the point where I do decide to build something else I'm pretty sure I'll get back at least what I have in it at that point.

I'll be following your build closely, good luck with it,
-Jason
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Old 08-01-2017, 03:04 PM   #8  
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I think that clip sounds awesome because the exhaust is a true dual set-up. I've done a lot of research into what makes a v6 sound good with this build and it seems the best are narrow tube true duals with a resonator or two. Crossovers are not that important but if there is one X pipes seem to sound better than H pipes. The crazy part about this is that most people and oem's seem to just join them together at a y and run one pipe out the back. This gives you the unmissable tone known as "minivan".

I'm planning on dual 2" pipes with vacuum activated diverters in the back.

Good clip. I've bookmarked it in my "LFX" file.

-Jason
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Old 08-01-2017, 05:58 PM   #9  
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There are a lot of things that make more sense than a V8 swap. :-)
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Old 08-04-2017, 06:35 AM   #10  
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ZB - Thank you for posting on here and please, oh please, keep this thread alive for us. Your photo of the bare tub shows you're more than able to accomplish this LFX swap. If you weren't intimidated by the disassembly, then you can handle the rest! The 10AE is such a nice donor too. Best of luck and hope to see this completed project in the next yr or so.
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Old 08-08-2017, 07:20 AM   #11  
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I've heavily priced out all six "greater than four pistons" swaps in planning for this most recent one. As most everyone knows I've really only dealt in Ford based V8 Miatas up to this point but the building of 5 of them gives me a pretty good understanding of how the other kits relate difficulty wise.

The Honda J swap and the Ford/Jag/Mazda Duratech V6 swaps are the easiest due to their use of the the Mazda drive line AND the fact that nether requires ANY cutting to the car. The J swap is the least expensive at about $4.5K to $6k over the cost of the car. The Duratech swap is about middle of the road in price mainly because of the cost to ship the very inclusive kit over from England. The LFX and Monster Miata Ford kit are about equal in difficulty and price. Both require a full drive line swap and only require cutting of the "ears" at the back of the engine bay. Both will run you about $10K to $15K over the cost of the car and get you about the same horsepower. The torque of the Ford is greater but the technology in the LFX is newer. One awesome aspect of the LFX build is that you can get an oem engine used with under 10K miles on it for under $2000. THAT is the one big area that the LFX and LSx differ: You may have the same amount in both in the end but not if your LSx engine has only 5K miles on it. I tried pricing out pull out LSx drive lines with the same 5k to 10k on them and the price nearly tripled.

I would have really liked to do a LFX swap this time around but do think I'll be pretty happy with the J32a3, at least for a time. At the point where I do decide to build something else I'm pretty sure I'll get back at least what I have in it at that point.

I'll be following your build closely, good luck with it,
-Jason
I'm having trouble finding a donor car with less than 10K miles the way that I want to do this. While it would be cheaper initially to source a complete pullout (and those are avail with less than 10K miles fairly easily), I am trying to leverage some of my salvage contacts (I'm an insurance adjuster by trade - don't shoot me) to buy a complete salvage donor.
Having a complete donor will cost me more up front, but I can sell the carcass back to a salvor to recoup some of the cost. I also think I can do a much more careful deconstruction, as well as have access to some of the other bits & bobbles that may prove useful.
I've been watching the big insurance salvage yards in my area (IAA & Co-part are the big ones here), but having difficulty finding anything in the 5 to 10K range. And of the few I've seen, they've been hit hard enough to make me worry about the engine/trans.
Currently I'm watching several in the <30K range. There are a handful more in the <50K range. Any thoughts/concerns about getting something in the 30 - 40K mile range?
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Old 08-08-2017, 08:11 AM   #12  
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I think that with modern drive trains 50K miles is just getting broken in. For me, it is more about the years of degrading and the quality of maintainance than pure mileage.
My V8 drivetrain only had about 80K miles on it but the car was 17 years old. When I inspected the wiring harness I saw too many signs of age. Not miles but age.
It would be a great plus if you could check the history of the car and find out that a dealership had done the normal recommended maintainance.
The other thing I would look at is modifications from factory original because my take on mechanical modifications is that these people will drive the car harder and wear it out sooner.
Another point is that if you are looking for a fairly new car with 50K miles, those miles would probably be mostly highway miles, which are easier on a car than around town miles.
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Old 08-16-2017, 12:35 PM   #13  
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Hoping to get motor tomorrow.

I've all but given up on finding a complete salvage vehicle. Too much money for what little value I perceive in having a complete car. Also, all the risk falls to me on making sure the motor/trans are functional. If I buy a complete pullout, I'll at least get some type of warranty (at least that'll run in the next 90 days).

So I found a complete pullout from a 2014 Camaro with 9K miles. Has an auto trans like I want, and still has the ECU/Harness intact. Yard is about 2.5 Hours away from me and want's $1800.00 for everything including the gas pedal.

I'm heading down tomorrow morning to look it over, and if all good, I'll have them pull it out (it's still in the car!). I was hoping to be able to start it, but I'm told they've already sold the front end/lamps/cooling, and pulled the interior, so they don't think there is enough of the car left to actually start it.

I am assured that it fired up and ran good when they first got the vehicle, and will give 90 day warranty (I'm hoping to get them to extend the warranty period since it may be more than 90 days before I'm in a position to even start it).

I'm going to take a few basic hand tools with me, but outside of looking for collision damage at motor mounts, bell housing, etc., are there any words of wisdom from the members as to what to look for?

-Mike
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Old 08-16-2017, 03:59 PM   #14  
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So I just now came across this thread, looks like you're doing a pretty impressive job so far....I'd expect no less from a 10AE owner.
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Old 08-18-2017, 06:16 AM   #15  
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So I passed on the 9K motor. It was missing a few accessories, and has an e39a ECU (I believe I need an e39). While those missing items could be purchased without too much extra cost, I just wasn't happy with how it had been stored.

This yard evidently doesn't have the warehouse space to pull drivelines, so it's been sitting in the yard for a little over 2 years. While the hood was 'covering' the engine, it was practically sitting on the ground and even the trans pan looked to be rusty. Oil filler cap was missing, so unknown how much water/moisture has gotten into the block (the oil didn't look bad, but still.) No way to run/test this, although they assured me it ran great when they pulled it in two years ago

A few pix attached. Anyone think I'm over reacting on this one?



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Old 08-18-2017, 09:52 AM   #16  
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I feel you are being careful and trying to make sure you get a reliable drivetrain and you are intelligent enough to be aware of potential red flags.
Personally, I would be happier with a more recently salvaged drivetrain and less worried about the drivetrain mileage.

On the specific engine and transmission that I bought, the salvage took a video and sent it to me of the car running and driving as they pulled it in to do the tear down so it gave me a warm and fuzzy.
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Old 08-28-2017, 09:23 AM   #17  
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Just a quick status update to let everyone know I'm still working.

Sold the stock drive-line this weekend. Real nice fellow doing a turbo build on his NA bought it to work on over the winter. Sounds like he's going to make a strong driveline out of it.

Also just got off the phone with V8R and ordered the LFX mounting kit, and the rear diff mounting kit. As soon as those arrive, I'll start cutting the engine bay.

Still searching for a pullout donor. I've found a few, but still a little higher price than I wanted to be at. Will keep looking.

-Mike
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Old 08-28-2017, 11:47 AM   #18  
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Which differential are you going with?
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Old 08-28-2017, 11:51 AM   #19  
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Which differential are you going with?
V8R only recommends the Getrag 3.23 LSD. They look to be pretty easy to find on car-part.com.
**Edit: Just called one of my local salvage contacts and ordered the diff.
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Old 08-28-2017, 03:06 PM   #20  
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I got the same differential. Ended up paying $250 plus about $40 for shipping.
When I was checking, the 3.23 was most common and cheapest, 3.42 was next, then 3.73 was up around $800 and supposedly was only from CTS-V cars which had me worried how much they might have been abused.

Just for the sake of being nosy, how much are you paying?

One little thing with the V8R kit, they did not supply the grade 8 bolts that connect the differential to the driveshaft. I had to get mine from Tractor Supply and trim them to the length I wanted to get the correct un-threaded length.
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Old 08-28-2017, 03:27 PM   #21  
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I got the same differential. Ended up paying $250 plus about $40 for shipping.
When I was checking, the 3.23 was most common and cheapest, 3.42 was next, then 3.73 was up around $800 and supposedly was only from CTS-V cars which had me worried how much they might have been abused.

Just for the sake of being nosy, how much are you paying?

One little thing with the V8R kit, they did not supply the grade 8 bolts that connect the differential to the driveshaft. I had to get mine from Tractor Supply and trim them to the length I wanted to get the correct un-threaded length.
I'm paying $200.00 for the diff. $25.00 core charge. The yard is close enough to me that I'll go get it once he has it shipped/delivered to his location (this supplier has 3 yards across the state).

Good to know about the driveshaft bolts. I didn't order the full rear-end kit as I'm not ready for the axles & driveshaft anyway. I was more interested in getting the diff mounted and the tabs welded so I could have the subframe and control arms media blasted and powdercoated.

I'll order the remaining parts at the next step/phase. Will double check on bolts though
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Old 09-01-2017, 09:33 PM   #22  
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You're making progress! And by being a bit picky, you'll find the perfect donor drivetrain soon enough. Have fun with it. I still think building these are 6% better than driving them!
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Old 09-02-2017, 07:49 AM   #23  
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I still think building these are 6% better than driving them!
I second that! I had a lot more fun building mine than driving it. I have put under 3,000 miles on it in 10 years. Might be time to sell & build something else to sit in the garage and stare at.
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Old 09-05-2017, 03:56 PM   #24  
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I worked a bit this weekend on cutting out the tabs in the engine bay. I still need to grind them down and trim to make it square, but I have some questions about the V8R frame rail reinforcements.
V8R was nice enough to send those separate from the rest of my front mounting kit so I could start on the welding, but these look different (smaller) than what I've seen from other builds (and what Flying Miata show's on their website).
Do these look right? Will they give enough support?



Here's my cuts on the engine bay:

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Old 09-05-2017, 10:17 PM   #25  
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I suspect they will work just fine. On the driver's side the bracket gets cut quite a bit to clear the steering column opening. Per the Flyin Miata instructions you will need to beat down the sheet metal just below the cutout so that it sits against the firewall. The patch pieces sit flush with the beat down area so that when you weld it the result looks pretty smooth.

One thing I did was to remove the two lips on the frame rails where you have blue painter's tape. I then welded up the corner and added some stiffener plates to make the area stronger. The lip gets in the way of easily getting to the LS engine headers and spark plugs plus I think it looks more factory. Maybe your V6 will clear but it is something you can do now while you are doing the patching to the engine compartment.
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