Best Of Both Worlds? 1997 M1stang!

Let’s say that you’re a person who likes things a little different, like one of those you’ve-got-peanut-butter-on-my-chocolate/you’ve-got-chocolate-on-my-peanut-butter people? If so, this 1997 Miata’stang, or M1stang, may be for you. It’s listed on Autotrader in Salem, Ohio with an asking price of $9,800. Thanks to Michael for submitting this memorable mingling mashup of Miata and Mustang!

I don’t know how this car was made for $9,800, or even how it was made in the first place. Or, why? Apparently, these cars were built by a very talented and determined gentleman by the name of Bill Carnes, according to Mustang360. Mr. Carnes, a Ford guru with immense talent, wanted to give Miata owners a way to drive a classic looking Mustang but still have a reliable powertrain in a fun-to-drive package. Replacement Mustang body panels were cut to fit and were placed on an unmodified Miata/MX-5 chassis, with the blessing of Ford, and viola: the M1stang!

I think this car would draw a crowd at any car show that it was allowed to be in, if any, or at any gas station. Imagine one of this zoom-zooming by you on the highway, the scale of it would make you spit out your skinny vanilla soy double-shot latte with extra foam and/or make you accidentally hit “reply-all” on that nasty email that you’re writing about your boss to a co-worker as you drive. It doesn’t look bad, does it? The profile photo is really the only way that most people would know that something’s up, or down, in this case, as in it’s a bit shorter than the Mustang would have been.

A few million people might argue that a first-gen Mustang with a V8 and manual transmission is one of the most fun cars to drive, maybe ever. A few million more would argue the same thing about the Miata. This isn’t a which-one-is-better-or-more-important exercise as they were both groundbreaking yet derivative cars, at least at first. But, few would argue that the Miata is about as rock-solid as it gets, reliability-wise. As far as being one of the best and most enjoyable cars to drive, shear-horsepower-notwithstanding, again the Miata gets a very big nod. The Mustang was no slouch and I would love to own one, but if I’m taking a cross-country trip it’ll be in a Miata. Almost anything on a Mustang could be fixed on the side of the road with a screwdriver and pliers, the problem is that they would most likely need to be fixed more often than on the Miata. Such pragmatic musings as reliability rarely have a place on a classic car site, though.

This is Ford’s 289.. er.. hey, what the?! No, this is the standard Mazda 1.8L inline-four found in the last of the NA generation Miatas and it would have had around 130 hp. I’m sure that a 260 or 289-equipped Mustang with a 4-speed would be more fun to drive in a lot of situations, other than in the handling department which is where the Miata, or M1stang, would excel in spades. So, when it comes down to it, would you rather buy whatever $9,800 first-generation Mustang you could find, and it may not be pretty, or possibly the world’s nicest Mazda Miata (MX-5) for $9,800? Or would you rather have the M1stang?


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  1. chgrec Member

    Very nicely done….you gotta get rid of the chrome roll bar it at least paint it black as it stands out too much and looks funny to me….of course I am building a convertible split vw bus, so what do I know…

    Nice way to make a run of the mill Miata really stand out.

  2. Steve M

    Im really on the fence on this one.

  3. Mark S.

    I don’t quite know how to process this. Mustata?

  4. Alan Brand

    If only it were a fastback …

    Like 1
  5. Classic Steels

    Owning s 67 convertible I find this a cool approach !

    Take the from roll bar and convert to a “light bar” and paint it black etc.

    Just needs a mini surf 🏄 board 👍

  6. Racer417

    Cute, but why?

  7. Crazyhawk

    I think this car is…………I better just move on to the next car on Barn Finds.

  8. Dolphin Member

    A 1.8 liter Mazda four?
    Did I read that right??

    Yes, I know some Mustangs came with a four, but not in ’67.

    Well, it is creative, and economical….but when I first read Scotty’s title that ends with ‘M1stang!’ I thought ‘OK, somebody has done a common engine swap and transplanted a BMW E36 M3 straight-6 engine this car. They are (relatively) cheap, they make 240 HP, rev to 7K, usually come with a strong, slick shifting 5-speeed, and are very reliable. And they are a common transplant into various BMW models that came with lesser engines, and sometimes into other cars.

    OK, so with the 1.8 Mazda four it’s not a musclecar, and like I said, it’s likely very economocal.

    • Miguel

      This would be the style for 1965, not 1967.

      This just doesn’t look right to me.

      Considering there are so many 1965/66 Mustangs still available, why do this?

      • Concinnity

        Because it’s a Miata, with it’s modern chassis dynamics, handling and braking, and ABS, just from the outside, it looks like a shorty Mustang.

    • Dolphin Member

      After a careful reading, as opposed to skimming this as I did before, I now see this as even stranger than I thought.

      A Miata with panels attached to make it look like a little Mustang? Really?

      No further comment, other than I hope he had fun.

  9. JimmyJ

    I like Miatas and mustangs but unsure bout the lovechild…
    I don’t hate it but will never be in my garage

  10. Scott Tait

    Power to weight ratio? Are the even trimmed mustang panels heavier?

    • Concinnity

      They are undoubtedly heavier and less aerodynamic, so the car won’t be a track warrior, but not much worse than a stock Miata.
      And it’ll be miles ahead of a stock Mustang.

  11. Coventrycat

    It belongs in the theme park, give the poor kids their ride back.

  12. John D

    It needs that conversion kit from the UK that will allow you to install the Jaguar V6 for some have to change your pants fun!

    • Concinnity

      Or a US Monster Miata SBF conversion, the SBF is the most compact of the small V8s, smaller, (but not lighter than the BOP/Rover V8. though, of course LS1s are popular now. Bad enough that you’d have what looks like a shorty Mustang without putting in a GM motor to offend bystanders, the illusion would be more complete with some Ford badges on a V8.

  13. KSwheatfarmer

    O k I know I’m old school, leave it original kind of guy. I can also appreciate the talent it took to pull this off. But some one please help me understand the desire to turn things into something they’re not. Get a Mustang and a Miata, skip all the work,problem solved.

    • Concinnity

      Or a US Monster Miata SBF conversion, the SBF is the most compact of the small V8s, smaller, (but not lighter than the BOP/Rover V8. though, of course LS1s are popular now. Bad enough that you’d have what looks like a shorty Mustang without putting in a GM motor to offend bystanders, the illusion would be more complete with some Ford badges on a V8.

  14. Victor Anderson

    hmmm I don’t know why, but I like it. I probably SHOULDN’T like it — but I do.
    If there was ever a Miata that needed one of those Monster Miata 5.0 Mustang engine conversions, this is it. A white top would look better – and then frankly I would go about trying to make the interior look a little more muntangy too – some white seats and then make a different dash board for it that resembled the old Mustang one. But at only $9,800 you could do all that, including the engine swap, and still not have a huge amount of money tied up in the thing. Go a little nuts and give those fenders a little flair and put some wider tires on it… really quite a bit you could do with this for not a huge amount of cash.

  15. dgrass

    Looks more like a Mustang 2 to me. Profile is more inline with a late 70s model than a 60s IMO.

    • Gary

      dgrass………you pretty much nailed it with your comment.

  16. Madmatt

    Some people have too much time on their hands…🤔
    I don’t know why someone would do this…?, Other than
    They could..?While a very interesting concept,I wonder
    How well this could have been built..for the asking price?..
    It doesn’t compare with my 65….for coolness,but I’m sure
    It handles better and is easier to drive.. better mpg too..?
    Don’t love it,but don’t entirely hate it either….. definitely different..🤔…

    • Andy

      If it was built 20 years ago, the price doesn’t have to reflect what it cost to build, just what you can get for it.

  17. grant

    This has been around the internet for a few days and I don’t usually like body kits but I just love this.

  18. Canadian Mark S. Eh! Member

    For some of us its more about the build than the ride, some guys live for the project as it is a creative outlet. I suspect the builder of this very cool car is on to the next project. I’ve herd many times on this site the words rolling art. That is what this is and yes it’s up for interpretation. I come from a family of creative people so I think that I get the why of this car. JMHO.

  19. Phil

    I like it…..probably way more than I should but it’s cool IMHO

  20. Adam T45 Staff

    Some of you may call me strange (and if you’re going to do that, please join the end of the queue. It’s just over the horizon), but I actually quite like this. What would I change? Drop the ride height slightly, and fit a wheel and tyre (Australian spelling) package that filled the guards a bit better. I think that would help it a lot. My only other concern is whether this conversion has added too much weight to the original car. If so, then maybe a turbo is in order.

  21. Rock On

    Most car show spectators will probably feel safer watching this car leave the show than a factory V8 version!

  22. Frank

    I’d rather go to the dentist than be seen in this junker.

  23. Rick A. Loera Member

    Looks alot better than when someone takes an 89 through 97 Thunderbird and trys to turn into a 1950 Ford Tudor. None of the body lines match up as well as in this Mustang/Miata Hybrid. I think it looks pretty good. I also think that it would be a great car to travel in. It’s like which car do I want. Well I only can afford one collectible car. I like the first gen Mustang, but I really like the first gen Mazda Miata. What to do. I know I’ll buy this one, that way I now have both.

  24. Mountainwoodie

    Come on Guys (and Gals)..doesn’t this make you a little bit proud of the ingenuity of the regular folks! I never fail to marvel at the talent we keep tripping across….even if that talent is used for some pretty bizarre projects!

  25. Nrg8

    Kill it with fire

  26. Marcelo

    IMHO it’ s a sacrilege

    • Derek

      I agree. Poor little MX-5….

      Very nicely done conversion. There’s a lot of work in that and the end result looks far better than most similar attempts.

  27. Suttree

    Thumbs up on this one. I’d love to have it.

  28. Rube Goldberg Member

    Blasphemy!!! East is east, and West is west, and never the two shall meet. Got nothing agin the Miata, but to make one into the most iconic cars ever made, just doesn’t sit right with me. I’m sure it does everything a modern car does, blah, blah, blah, this is totally missing the point of a 65/66 Mustang. Give me a ’66 Hurst Shelby ( rental) and it’s bye-bye bastardized Miata/Mustang. Oh, I think it looks funny. I know, coming from a guy who loves rat-rods, I have my limits too.

  29. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Given the choice of this one or a Miata, I think I like this better than a Miata but that’s a personal thing.

  30. Kuzspike

    I’d like to see it parked next to a real Mustang just to get perspective on how much smaller it is. Apparently the Miata is becoming this generations VW replicar starting point. Jalopnik had a story on its website about this car and the many other body kits now available.

  31. Jason

    I just threw up a little

  32. CanuckCarGuy

    For what it’s intended for…a unique daily driver, this would be a cool little car to own. Owning the real McCoy would absolutely be preferred, but I also can’t daily drive and run errands in the original ‘Stang without living in fear of dents, dings and depreciation. Would I drive it? No…but my wife would!

  33. Alan


  34. Joe Haska

    Barn Finds does it again, a very unique car, I have never heard of and it starts a dialog, that defines who we are as gear heads. I fall into the camp of I sort of like it ,but I don’t know why? I would like to drive it before I decide, wait a minute, I could just go drive a Miata! I agree a few styling changes might improve the looks, personally I would like it to see it sit lower, and maybe a change of tires and wheels, wait a minute ,I say that about every car I look see!

  35. healeydays

    Not a big fan of putting a mask over a toy and passing it off as a classic. Yes a Miata might handle better than an early mustang, but do you really need to do this to a car?

  36. John D

    This needs to get to Geoff Hacker at Forgotten Fiberglas. Let him make molds of the body panels so there would be a kit to sell.

  37. Harry Hodson

    I see a candidate for a Godzilla 5.0 transplant and an absolute screamer.
    II’d own it!

  38. Andy

    Proportion wise, it looks like what would happen if Ford did what AMC did with the Javelin and AMX. I like it. But I’d rather have a 13B rotary under the hood.

  39. ACZ

    A Mustang rice rocket?? No thanks!

  40. Beatnik Bedouin

    Interestingly, it kind of looks like a clay that Ford’s designers whipped up for a two-seat Mustang back in June 1964. Obviously, with the fact that Dearborn had no trouble selling every production model it was producing after the marques launch on April 17, there was no need to create a two-place convertible.

    Speaking of Falcon-based two-seaters, have a look at Budd’s offer to Ford for a two-place drop-top that (IMHO) was thankfully rejected.

  41. Bruce

    I don’t really like it and I would have preferred a Miata with a Mustang drivetrain, but I have to admit that he did a helluva job.

  42. Skip

    I suppose if people pay good money to make an S5 Corvette look like sort of like an S2, people will pay money to convert their Miata into a Miustang. These things wouldn’t exist if somebody didn’t want to buy them, right? Somebody. Not me, but somebody.

    • healeydays

      At least if you take a newer Corvette and rebody it to look like an earlier one, it’s still the same DNA and true to the drivetrain. A rebodied Miata to look like a classic Mustang is still a Mazda. Just like a rebodied VW Bug didn’t make it a Ferrari…

  43. Jose Delgadillo

    It’s a well done job but the answer to a question that nobody asked. An original early Mustang is a pretty simple car and can be put in dependable driving shape fairly easily. Basic upgrades will make it handle, perform and stop better. Resale value would be good. A Miata is a great little sports car in it’s own right. They can be modified in all kinds of ways. This “body suit” just looks like a joke.

  44. Maestro1

    I think it’s a great idea. Never mind the two brand comparison. The thing is itself.
    Obviously a talented constructor and he ought to be taking orders for this car. May he prosper.

  45. Pete

    No No No, The mustang is already cramped interior wise, so ya wanna make it smaller? Really? GTFO

  46. Beatnik Bedouin

    I’ve seen worse, Pete… ;-)

  47. Tyler

    Not my cup of tea, but I don’t hate it either. It’s certainly better than most other conversions, especially those Stutz.

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