As a former owner of an ND2 MX-5 RF, it intrigues me to see what has happened to this hardtop roadster. The politically correct thing to say would be that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the owner of this "Lancia” wanted his RF sprinkled with some Italian magic. After talking with the builder of this curious creation – which is legally registered in Florida as a 1978 Lancia Scorpion – there's far more happening here than meets the eye.
Of course, we all remember Fiat also sprinkled the MX-5 with Italian magic, creating the 124 Spider which was essentially a rebodied MX-5 with a turbocharged engine. The "Fiata" also got a hardtop for the Abarth 124 GT, but that was a removable carbon fibre roof instead of the MX-5's electrically retractable metal top. This self-described Lancia Scorpion revival is clearly derived from the MX-5 RF, but with plenty of blue shields as a nod to the Italian brand.
Gallery: Lancia Scorpion / Mazda MX-5 Custom Build
The eccentric sports car represents the work of McHugh's Automotive Group, an automotive repair shop from Florida. Seeing Lancia badges on a MX-5 led us to a discussion with builder Jim McHugh, who explained there's actually Lancia DNA in this project. It was built for a Lancia enthusiast seeking a restomod of a '78 Scorpion, but finding the original car just too far gone, a radical approach was taken by fusing an ND MX-5 with some of the Lancia's parts. McHugh says the build is "90 percent Mazda" and that includes the MX-5's familiar 2.0-litre four-cylinder nestled beneath a V8-styled engine cover.
Touted as a one-off, the car is built on a "specially modified Mazda/FCA NF2 subframe" where "NF" represents the internal codename of the Fiat/Abarth 124 Spider. That said, this is clearly a MX-5 RF but also much more, as parts from several cars were incorporated into the project. The rear is from the Lotus Elise, installed with considerable fabrication to the Mazda's backside that makes the car a touch shorter. Honda Civic Type R exhaust exits in the middle.
At the front, Porsche Macan lights were modified with MX-5 parts to create a custom look. They sit above a reworked fascia incorporating large round motorcycle headlights installed as an homage to the Lancia 037, the car the owner really wanted to modernise with this build. Stylewise, there are all kinds of Easter eggs including a classic Pontiac GTO bonnet scoop and design cues from various Corvette generations around the car. All total, McHugh says it took 3,100 hours to finish, using parts from eight cars to bring this "Lancia" to life.
The sheer amount of Lancia logos is remarkable as the branding extends to the engine bay and to an analogue clock mounted inside where they’ve mounted a pseudo-gated shifter for the six-speed manual. The owner inserts a crystal-like key before pressing the start/stop button, which now sits between the seats. Other changes compared to a MX-5 include the addition of ambient lighting, blue instrument cluster dials, and a custom steering wheel. Even the glass no longer has Mazda markings.
There's certainly a significant amount of work behind this build, and MX-5 purists might find the Lancia theme a bit over the top. At the end of the day it's still a Mazda, albeit one modified far beyond what photos and videos might convey.