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MrChaos
MrChaos GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/17/17 6:16 p.m.

So Woody as a fellow 95 m owner i have to recommend the textured black voodoo shift knob it is so much better than the factory knob. It feels so nice. I replaced it and the leather boot with one from moss.

petegossett
petegossett GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
3/4/17 10:00 p.m.

Score! And awesome story too.

fornetti14
fornetti14 GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/5/17 6:44 a.m.

That's fantastic!!
Did you ever fix the rocker on the passenger side?

Woody
Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/5/17 6:49 a.m.

In reply to fornetti14:

I'm waiting for warmer weather, mainly so I can paint the rocker after it's straightened out.

Woody
Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/8/17 3:32 p.m.

I decided to install the used Autopower roll bar, at least temporarily. Once it's installed, I'll take some measurements, decide where I want to add a harness bar and diagonal, then remove it, weld in the new bars, paint it and reinstall.

The bar didn't come with any hardware, so step one was to make a pair of steel backing plates. The rear mounts have three holes each from the factory. Eventually, I added a fourth to each, and removed one of the originals.

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I also had to clean up the threads on the two forward mounts.

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I dropped the top, removed the seats and trim and rolled back the rear shelf carpet.

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When test fitting the bar, I found that the passenger side rear mount was trying to occupy the same space as a large plastic grommet that protects a large wiring harness. I used a Dremel with a cutoff wheel and an angle grinder to remove some metal from the bar. I had read that I might have to do this, so it wasn't a huge surprise.

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The forward mounts drop into place above and behind the seat belt towers, with the threaded rod dropping into the holes that were originally used for the 94-97 rear brace, right next to the shoulder belt mount. Once this was in place, I installed the hardware on the front mounts to pull the bar down and forward.

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There wasn't a lot of space to mark or drill the holes for the rear bolts, but I drilled one small pilot hole from above in each of the front spots. Then I enlarged the holes from below, added the backing plates with one bolt each and used them as a pattern for the rest of the holes. Those ABS wires would have been a problem with a Hard Dog bar. The Hard Dog's rear mounts would sit about three inches further back.

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The Autopower top cross bar sits in about the same position as the Hard Dog Hard Bar Sport, Hard Bar Sport, M2 Sport, M1/M2 Hard Core Hard Top, and Extreme (i.e. further back and a little lower than the M1/M2 Hard Core non-Hard Top). The Autopower doesn't take up as much space around your shoulders and the seat belts stay in their original position.

I've installed three Hard Dog bars in the past. You don't need to cut the rear shelf like you do with the HD, although you do need to trim the bolt-in panel behind the seats, the plastic trim and the carpet, just as you would for the HD. So the Autopower bar can be removed much more cleanly than the HD. You would just need to pop a few rubber plugs into the holes.

I think that Hard Dog bars are nicer, but the Autopower bar takes up less space and is much easier to install.

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MrChaos
MrChaos GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
3/8/17 9:07 p.m.

The autopower is also like $100-200 more than the hard dog. Currently researching one that will fit under the hardtop of my M as well.

MrChaos
MrChaos GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
3/9/17 5:05 a.m.

In reply to Woody:

was looking on autopowers site they list is for like $595

Woody
Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/11/17 8:39 a.m.

Finishing up the installation of the Autopower Roll Bar...

While the car itself doesn't need any trimming like you would need to do to install a Hard Dog bar, I did need to trim the bolt-in panel that goes behind the seats.

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Woody
Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/11/17 8:45 a.m.

This photo shows the area that I needed to cut out to install a Hard Dog bar in one of my other cars.

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Woody
Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/11/17 8:49 a.m.

Next up was modifying the trim panels. Again, these required very minor modification compared to a Hard Dog installation. The whole process took just two snips with a pair of side cutters. Very easy.

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And I absolutely love the fact that the seatbelts remain in their original position, unlike with the HD. I don't mean to sound like I'm bashing the Hard Dog bars because I don't mean to. I have owned several. But for a street car, the Autopower bar is a much cleaner and easier installation.

Woody
Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/11/17 8:50 a.m.

Carpet trimmed.

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Woody
Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/11/17 8:53 a.m.

Seats going back in.

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All done.

I have some leftover roll bar padding from previous projects that I will throw in there for the short term. The formed padding for Hard Dog bars also fits the Autopower bar, so I just ordered one of those from Bethenia Garage.

MrChaos
MrChaos GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
3/17/17 9:42 p.m.

still better looking than pool noodles

Woody
Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/18/17 9:14 p.m.

Here's the scoop...

I decided that I wanted to add a cold air intake. I don't like the look of the turn signal intakes, and I'm too broke/cheap to buy one of the carbon fiber NACA duct headlight covers, though I do like that look. I decided to buy a 3D printed NACA duct for about $40 from Shapeways.

I have a perfectly good headlight cover on the car, but I didn't want to risk making a mess of it.

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As (bad) luck would have it, about eight years ago, I hit a deer with another Miata and I still had its mangled headlight cover down in the scrap metal bin.

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I removed the good headlight cover for comparison and spent some time at the anvil with a bunch of different body hammers and gently beat the mangled cover back into reasonable shape.

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After some trial fitting and a few more whacks, I was finally ready to declare it "Good Enough".

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I made a pattern from the 3D printed duct and figured out where I wanted it to go.

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Eventually, I chose a spot and traced it out with a Sharpie.

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I had planned to use a cutoff wheel on the Dremel for all the cutting, but the discs were disappearing fast. Instead, I used it to cut a shallow groove along the line and then used that as a guide for my Jigsaw.

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I drilled a bunch of 1/8" holes for rivets to hold the duct in place.

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That's all for tonight. Hopefully, on Tuesday I'll have a chance to sandblast the headlight cover and get it ready for paint. Once it's painted, I'll rivet the duct into place and install it on the car.

Woody
Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/23/17 7:50 p.m.

I spent about 20 minutes with my old pal The Sandblaster and took the headlight cover down to bare metal.

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The cracked paint is gone, but you can still see evidence of my hammer and dolly work.

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I also cleaned up a rusty old screwdriver that I found in the car.

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Woody
Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/23/17 8:06 p.m.

I decided to try my hand at a carbon fiber faux finish. They sell kits for this kind of thing, but I'm cheap and just used what I had laying around in the garage.

Painting conditions were far from ideal (50 degrees and windy), but it was going to be the warmest day of the week by at least 25 degrees.

I started with a few coats of primer and then few more of satin black.

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After about ten or fifteen minutes of drying time, I wrapped the cover with a piece of tool box drawer liner. You need to wrap it tight or you'll end up with a fuzzy pattern.

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Then I sprayed two or three light coats of Rustoleum Hammered Black, let them dry for ten minutes, unwrapped it and hit it with a few coats of clear.

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Woody
Woody GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/23/17 8:18 p.m.

Finally, I riveted the 3D printed NACA duct to the underside of the headlight cover and then bolted it onto the car.

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MrChaos
MrChaos GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
3/23/17 8:26 p.m.

In reply to Woody:

looks good

HikerDan
HikerDan GRM+ Memberand New Reader
3/23/17 8:28 p.m.

That's cool! Haven't seen that process before....

Fitzauto
Fitzauto Dork
4/8/17 10:59 p.m.

How has the duct held up and what material is it made of?

Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/15/22 3:24 p.m.

Five an a half years later...

 

I was very happy to see these photos pop up on the FCSCC Facebook page this weekend.

They bought the car from me to use as the club car for their end of season runoff.

As I understand it, they take all of the class champions and put them in this car to determine the overall champion for the year.

Still has the dented rocker panel!

 

Fairfield County Sports Car Club - FCSCC Autocross

B Paddock at Lime Rock Park, November 12, 2022

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