Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ragged Rag Top

Our Miata came with a hard top, but no soft top.  Many people prefer the hard top, but it requires a certain amount of compromise if you don't have a soft top under it.  You have to commit to your roof situation when you leave the house, which can be a pain.  For example, it would be really nice to have some shade after a long day of driving in Malibu when you're sitting in traffic trying to get home.  Because of situations like that, I decided to do something.

My plan was to make a bikini top like the one above.  It's light, simple, and accomplishes what  I wanted.  I considered buying the one above, which is basically the only option out there, but the price seems a little high at $345, plus the cost of a "factory front bow," which is just the front portion of the soft top that butts up against the windshield surround.

I planned to do something similar to the above, using the front "bow," but I would reuse the original top material, adding straps as necessary.  It would probably look a little rough, so it would match the rest of the car.  After some searching on Craigslist I bought the top below for $70.  There was a big cut in it and the back window was missing, but I was mainly interested in the frame, which is $600 from Mazda.  I located replacement material on Craigslist as well for an additional $70, but I cheaped out and decided to try to work with what I had.  It would have doubled the cost of the project, after all.
Held together with safety pins.
I tricked my wife and mother into repairing the fabric.  We also concluded we should abandon the bikini top concept, mostly because I'm too tall for it to work, but also because the folding mechanism is just too good not to use.  It may be a bit heavier, but who cares.

With a few stitches and a lot of hot glue, it looks like it will get the job done.

As you can see, we also removed the rear third of the fabric, where the nonexistent window was.

The final step was installing the top on the car.  All that required was three bolts on each side of the car.  Simple...on the passenger side.  Of course, I bought stainless steel hardware.

The driver side was much more complicated.  The racing seat was blocking access to the holes, but we eventually got them in, only losing one washer in the process.

When we bought the car, it came with stainless plates holding the top on.  I cleverly asked for the original latch mechanisms, which saved me at least $80.  I did have to buy the hooks that bolt onto the windshield header.  I found them for $20 on ebay.

Here's the finished product.  Not bad for less than $100.

As you can see, it folds up and still lets me use the hard top.

After one drive in Malibu, the new top proved its worth by providing blessed shade on the way home.  Great success!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment