There’s a joke among automotive enthusiasts that "the answer is always Miata," because the Mazda MX-5 roadster is universally capable. Atlanta-based Exomotive has added another dust-choked, gravel-strewn dimension to that capability with the creation of the Exocet, a lightweight, tube-frame Miata conversion for attacking trails.
A quick recap: Exocet is a DIY car that uses all the parts of a Miata that bolt to its stamped unibody shell. Exomotive provides a racing-style steel tube frame chassis, to which buyers bolt the suspension, wheels, tires, brake and drivetrain from a junked Miata, turning it into a track-ready racing weapon. The result is similar to that of the Polaris Slingshot we tested.
Building an Exocet Off-Road using just recycled Miata components could cost as little as $14,000, if you emulate those car-building reality shows and bolt it all together in your own shop. Depending on the year of the donor car, a stock Mazda four-cylinder engine delivers between 100 and 130 horsepower to the wheels.
There are available upgrades to tires, wheels, brakes, springs, suspension arms and shocks that use more custom-made new parts and fewer Mazda pieces, culminating with a General Motors 6.2-liter small block V8 engine capable of putting between 430 and 525 hp to the ground. This in a car that weighs about 1,500 lbs.
The name "Exocet" is borrowed from a French air-to-surface anti-ship missile. With a V8 installed, this car's performance should reflect that of its namesake.