How to Open & Close Your Miata Soft-top Roof From the Driver's Seat!

Introduction: How to Open & Close Your Miata Soft-top Roof From the Driver's Seat!

About: A technology tinkerer based in a green and usually rather damp part of the Cheshire countryside.

How to close and open your MX-5 Miata soft-top roof whilst stopped*, in around six seconds and without having to unstrap your safety belt and/or get out of your seat.

At almost zero cost, too.

In short, a threaded steel rod is installed across the inside of the roof handle which permits clipping a strap. With this in place, raising and lowering the roof is just a simple matter of using the strap.

As the mod only leaves two small holes either side of the handle, it's unlikely to be noticed once the rod is removed, so if you ever want to sell the car, simply unscrew the rod from the handle and everything is back to standard.

*Please comply with your local traffic laws(!).

Supplies

Parts:

A 2 foot or so long strap with a sprung clip on one end (see photo). From an old handbag or similar. Note that the sprung clip has an off-centre opening which makes it less likely to open under load. A dog lead would be a good alternative.

1-off 6mm dia, 3.5 inch (89mm) long threaded steel rod or machine screw (if you're in the US, 3/16" or 1/4" dia. may be OK) - see note below.

Tools:

2mm (or so) HSS drill bit (for pilot holes)

5mm HSS drill bit (for M6 tapping hole - use appropriate bit for 3/16" or 1/4" rod)

M6 tap (3/16" or 1/4" tap if using imperial sizes)

Junior hacksaw


Note re. threaded rod/machine screw size if in the US: I used metric M6 steel rod, as it's thick enough not to bend under load, yet thin enough to allow the clip to be inserted easily and also permit normal use of the soft-top handle. Unfortunately M6 appears to fall between two imperial size equivalents - 3/16" and 1/4". I would probably try 3/16" first and if it proves not strong enough, go for the 1/4". The downside of the 1/4" is that it may be too thick to easily insert the clip. If this proves to be the case, a little judicious filing in the middle of the length to reduce the diameter is in order - just remember to smooth off any sharp edges to prevent cut fingers!

Step 1: Construction

  1. Remove the soft-top handle (two screws).
  2. Mark out the centre of the pilot holes (one on each side of the handle - see annotated photo)
  3. Drill the two pilot holes.
  4. Carefully drill the tap holes (5mm if using M6 rod).
  5. At each hole, apply the tap and slowly cut the thread, avoiding wobble(!)
  6. Cut the threaded rod or machine screw to length (around 3.5"/89mm) with the junior hacksaw.
  7. If using a machine screw, cut off the head.
  8. Cut a slot for a screwdriver in one end of the rod/screw, again with the hacksaw.
  9. Carefully screw the rod into the two tapped holes (see photos).
  10. Re-fit the handle into the soft-top roof (2 screws)

Step 2: Use

To open:

  1. When stopped and in a safe place, clip the strap onto the threaded rod (see video).
  2. Lower the sun visors (as you would do when opening the soft-top normally)
  3. Likewise, undo the securing latches.
  4. Hold the strap with both hands whilst pulling the soft-top open. Once the top is sufficiently open, the strap will take the weight.
  5. Carefully allow the soft-top to descend to its fully-lowered position. Be careful not to twist your body when doing this as it's likely to lead to pulled muscles.
  6. Leave the strap attached to the rod to permit rapid closing.

To close:

  1. When stopped and in a safe place, lower the sun visors.
  2. Grasp the end of the strap and pull until the roof is closed enough to engage the securing latches.
  3. Engage and lock the latches, raise the visors back in position.
  4. Unclip the strap from the threaded rod.

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