There seems to be a big misconception in our industry about the cost of LS swaps. Most people view this as a cheap engine that can increase the power of the vehicle drastically. Part of this statement is true. You can enhance the performance pretty quickly, but it’s not as cheap as everyone thinks. Sure, you can pick up a junkyard LS engine for $500 or so, but that’s where the cost starts to add up.
Taylor Ray has broken down his swapped Miata for us from every nut and bolt. He was working on a Mazda Miata and set his budget for the swap at $10,000. While this sounds like a lot of money for a swap, he did require a few things that would have cut the budget dramatically. But either way, one would think $10,000 would be plenty to get an LS engine and 6-speed transmission into the Miata.
As Tyler starts to add up the price of each item used in the swap, the cost starts to increase rather quickly, and soon he is over the $10,000 budget to the tune of $13,099. If you are wondering how this is possible, be sure and watch the video. The term, “nickel-and-dimed to death” becomes apparent as the swap needed more and more parts and pieces than initially thought. Taylor said that a smarter way to tackle this project would have been to buy a complete car and use what he needed and sell the rest. The problem with this plan is that at the time of the build, he had a tiny shop and no room to house another vehicle.
This build is a nice LS swap which drove up the cost, and it’s easy to see how you can spend a lot of money when you get right down to it. You could obviously do a swap much cheaper but the odds are it will still be more expensive than you might think. One of the most significant factors in the cost of a swap is the car itself. With that said, be sure and do your research on the vehicle of choice before you start a swap.