Pros: Should protect my noggin if the unthinkable should ever happen, increased chassis stiffness, makes your Miata look tough
Cons: Must do some irreversible modifications to the car, seat belt retraction is affected.
I was kind of a guinea pig for this product, I was one of the first people to install this roll bar in a 2001 Miata. There was nothing to worry about though, it fits 2001 and later Miatas with no problems.
I bought a roll bar to protect my head. Although I like to drive aggressively which could warrant a roll bar, there are also lots of other drivers out there and you never know what they are going to do. Having a roll bar gave me some peace of mind; they definitely aren’t for everyone but it fit my needs perfectly. I have been asked many times why I chose the Sport model over the Hard Core and here is why. I have no doubts of the sport models strength, I don’t ever intend on doing any SCCA racing so I did not need to meet their requirements, I eventually want to get a hard top, the height of the bar wasn’t an issue to me because I am only 5’9″, and the fact that it was cheaper didn’t hurt either. You can’t really go wrong either way for you Miata, it comes down to what you want and need for your Miata.
I have also been asked repeatedly how the bar affects seat travel, so here is the answer and how I came to it. First I put the seat back all the way forward and pushed it back to the first click so that the seat back was vertical. Then I slid the seat bottom all the way back. I then proceeded to count the clicks of the seat back until it could go no further back. The count was 8 clicks. So, with the seat bottom all the way back and with the seat back starting from vertical, you can tilt the seat back 8 clicks until it hits the roll bar. Hope this helps anyone considering the HDSDD in their 2001 Miata.
All right, on with the install.
I did the install over at a friend’s house and getting the bar over to his house was a bit of a challenge. This is how I did it.
The first thing you need to do is take apart your Miata. Remove the wind blocker, trim panels, carpet and the metal plate that makes up the rear deck. I also removed my seats which I highly suggest doing. The instructions say to trim the package shelf. I did not do this; it made the drilling a little awkward but kept me from cutting up my Miata anymore than necessary. The picture on the left shows the car with everything out.
After everything is out, you are ready to put the roll bar in. Care is to be taken with the rear leg foot braces so that you do not cut any of the wires running in the tunnels. The lower mounting points will align with the lower seat belt reel bolt holes (see pic on below left). The roll bar plates fit against the seat belt reels which stay in their original location but do not use the original spacers (see pic on below right). Once the Bar and the reels are in position, lightly tighten the seat belt reel mounting plate bolts from the hardware kit; make sure that your belts are on the inside of the roll bar, otherwise you will be screwed later on.
Now it’s time to jack up the rear of the car and put it on jack stands so that you can install the backing plates underneath the car. So go ahead and remove the rear wheels. You will need to remove the plastic splash guards that are held on by these funky fasteners so that you can remove the wheels. I managed to break one of these while removing them (stupid mistake). When this is done, you will have the picture below.
Now comes the scary part. Go get your drill!! I did get the 12″ bit that Hard Dog says is required. I’m not sure that I needed one quite so long but it didn’t hurt. There are a total of twelve holes you need to drill. Three for each of the front mounting brackets and three for each of the rear leg foot braces. The drilling only hurts the first time and is pretty easy to do, don’t worry your Miata won’t hold it against you. The front legs especially are easy, just drill from the front and your good to go. The back ones are a little trickier. What I did was drill one hole from inside the car. I wasn’t able to get the drill completely vertical but that was nothing a dremel couldn’t fix. After I drilled one hole from the top, I threaded a bolt through and put the lower plate on from within the rear wheel well. After that was in I drilled the remaining holes from the wheel well using the plate as a template.
The pic on the left is for the front brace and the one on the right is for the rear legs.
Now you can go ahead and tighten all your bolts down because the roll bar is in!! Now comes the tedious part, putting it all back together. First you need to trim the rear deck. This is easy. I wasn’t real anal about this because you’re never going to see it. I just used some tin snips and cut out some notches as seen in the pic on the right.
The next part is a little scary also. Trying to put all the interior trim pieces back in means that you have to cut them in half. Once I figured out where I needed to cut, it was a piece of cake. I just used a dremel with a cutting wheel and took my time. The driver’s side can be seen on the left and the passenger side on the left.
Here you can see the rubber trim piece that I added to the interior panel to give it that finished look. What I used was door trim that is used on the edge of your doors so that you don’t give cars door dings. On the left is the passenger’s side, on the right the driver’s side. This really made an amazing difference in the looks of the install and I highly suggest doing something similar.
And here’s the roll bar in the car; and as you can see, it clears the 2001 seats just fine. In the pics the driver’s seat is in the position that I drive in (I’m 5’9″) and the passenger’s seat is all the way back and reclining until it hits the diagonal.
The roll bar really does stiffen up the Miatas chassis, and makes your little Miata look like a manly beast, no more girly car comments with a roll bar in your Miata!
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