Friday, 16 December 2011

Hardtop Hassles

Paint it silver or leave it black?

Now that what felt like an interminable wait for the MX5’s hardtop is over, I decided I’d better get organised to actually fit the thing.

I’d taken a photo to see how it looked. It looked OK.

I’d even stuck it on top of the car, clipped the two front brackets in place, and drove it around the block.

This disabused me of any notion of actually using it before all clips and brackets were installed. It made the most amazing rubbery creaking noises, and threatened to detach itself and fall off onto the road. The results would not have been pretty.

Now we’re told by the aficionados that any genuine Mazda hardtop will fit any series of MX5. This is true, but there are a range of clips and brackets and you have to match the clips on the hardtop with the latches on the car.
Frankenstein bolts aren't rocket science

Brackets and clips changed with three models of MX5 and I presume three models of hardtops. The mathematicians out there will probably contradict me, but I think that amounts to nine possible combinations. Given that I had no idea of the vintage of the hardtop (although I did of the car) this matching up exercise was not necessarily straightforward.
Lots of bits

I did lots of browsing on MX5 websites (there are plenty) and after a careful inspection of both car and hardtop came up with pics of what was needed. These I emailed to the three or four suppliers and got info about price and availability. In the end the best deal was local (Brisbane) so I drove and collected the parts. In the process I discovered that the hardtop is about five years older than the car.

I checked the packaging carefully to make sure I had an LHS bracket and a RHS bracket. Turns out I should have taken the brackets out of the packaging. When I got home I unpacked two RHS brackets. Even weirder, they were different breeds of brackets.

The Frankenstein bolts were the right ones. I guess there’s not much to change in a Frankenstein bolt.

I decided to go ahead and fit it. I reckoned that only one securing device missing out of six would probably not be a major problem. I phoned the supplier who promised an LHS bracket to swap for the RHS one when I was next in Brisbane.
It got a bit messy

The most difficult part of the exercise was cutting an opening into the plastic panel behind the front seat to access the thread for the fixing bolts.

I didn’t have a Dremel, so I went to a hardware store where I was sold a twenty dollar drill attachment which took Dremel bits. It worked OK cutting the panel. The aperture has rough edges but that doesn’t matter as it is hidden by the bracket once mounted.
Dremel attachment

I discovered that a fair bit of mucking about is necessary to adjust each of the brackets to get a tight seal. First time on is not the two minute job it’s supposed to be.
RHS bracket installed 

Anyway, it all bolted together, and is watertight after spraying with a Karcher (which didn’t go “twang” when I packed it away).

There seems to be less wind noise with it mounted which means that you can hear the motor – a much more pleasant sound.
Front bracket and clip

The greatest advantage is security. I can leave the thing parked now without worrying that some lowlife will quickly and quietly slit the soft top to get at whatever is in the car. Rear vision is also improved.
Rear clips over Frankenstein bolts

It doesn’t leak, but then the convertible top was also watertight. This has always been one of the Mazda’s main advantages over classical British roadsters.


cav said...

Should you paint the windscreen surrounds to match the rest of the top?

1735099 said...

That's a thought - but the black heats up if it's parked in the sun. I reckon silver's the go.

A Pinch of Common Sense

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