Soft top removal. This is sort of a required step on my road to hardtop-only motoring. It didn’t seem like there was much information out there on this. There’s a ton of pages dealing with Miata soft top replacement, but not much on how to make a car look good with no soft top whatsoever. So, if you want to lose 37-42 lbs and turn your roadster into a speedster, read on.
Of all the things you can do to be nicer to yourself during this project, none is greater than removing at least the driver’s seat to give yourself room to work on the soft top. This is especially required with a fixed-back seat like my Elise seats. But don’t just be lazy and fold your factory seat forward. You need the space to work. The 4-5 bolts you have to remove to get the seat out are worth it.
It might be pretty difficult to remove 20 year old carpet buttons from your car without breaking them, but give it your best effort. There’s only 10 of them. A split tool like the one pictured above works great. In a pinch, an old fork works pretty well too. Or even a new fork! Just not a fork from your daily flatware that your wife will punish you for destroying.
I’m pleased to report that I broke only one of these carpet buttons while removing mine. Fortunately, I had a half dozen spares from my dead 97.
This rail runs the length of the soft top. I believe there are 12 bolts. The two on the far edges closest to the seats are a huge pain if you have a rollbar. You’ve been warned. Fortunately, these bolts are not designed to be tightened very much. They should all be finger tight. They’re very easy to remove once you’ve got a socket on the heads.
Once the metal frame is out of the way, you can pull the soft top away from the body and off the little screws. If your top isn’t original, there’s a fair chance that the rivets holding the top and rain rail together have been drilled. That means you can possibly separate the rain rail and the soft top and just leave the rain rail attached to the body.
They’re delicate beasties, those rain rails. I left mine still attached to the body. If I decide to put the soft top back on, I won’t have to spend $40-100 on a new rail.
This is all that’s holding your top on the car now. Three of these per side. Yank out the side trim and take these bolts out now. The soft top is kinda pinned in, so it won’t just fall forward once these bolts are gone.
And that’s it. One person can easily carry the top away from the car. Be good to your back window. Have something soft like a towel to set the top on before you box it up or whatever you intend to do with it.
The way I see it, you can do three things with the top of the carpet edge.
2: Poke holes so those studs go through and then add nuts.
3: Reinstall the metal rail and put the carpet buttons back in the factory holes.
I chose option 3. That metal rail doesn’t weigh very much and the clean look of the carpet buttons appeals to me. And the good news is that the rail is WAY easier to install without the soft top in the way.
I’m pretty sure the metal rail is required for legality in CSP-class solo2 racing. The update-backdate law allows you to remove the soft top, but it has to be done to the same spec as the Club Racer edition car. And I’m pretty sure that one had the rail from the factory. If anyone knows differently, perhaps you could post in the comments?
And now, the finished product.
Extra space in the back. No more rattles from the soft top. A cleaner look through the back window of the hardtop. Less weight. And easily reversible! I’m way happy about this little project.
And as a bonus, I present you with something that may have never been photographed before. Ever. Like the Yeti or La Llorona, but even more evasive!
The Miata rain rail drain hole.
Enjoy your new speedster.