Miata Soft Top Removal

Looks really clean without any soft top poking up.

Looks really clean without any soft top poking up.

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.

Do yourself a favor and remove the driver's seat before anything else.

Do yourself a favor and remove the driver's seat before anything else.

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.

Remove the carpet buttons in the back. CAREFULLY!

Remove the carpet buttons in the back. CAREFULLY!

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.

Peel back the carpet and remove the 3-piece metal rail.

Peel back the carpet and remove the 3-piece metal rail.

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.

Next, pull the soft top away from the body.

Next, pull the soft top away from the body.

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.

Remove the side trim to get access to these three bolts.

Remove the side trim to get access to these three bolts.

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.

Lift each side out and then separate the top from the car.

Lift each side out and then separate the top from the car.

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.

Finally, you must decide how to finish off that edge.

Finally, you must decide how to finish off that edge.

The way I see it, you can do three things with the top of the carpet edge.

    1: Nothing.
    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.

Finishing off the carpet reinstallation.

Finishing off the carpet reinstallation.

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.

So much space!

So much space!

I'm hoping those wrinkles flatten out.

I'm hoping those wrinkles flatten out.

I'm happy about this.

I'm happy about this.

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.

The rear drain hole. Is yours plugged with leaves and crap?

The rear drain hole. Is yours plugged with leaves and crap?

Enjoy your new speedster.

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  • jon says:

    what.. happens when ur driving somewhere and it suddenly rains?

    • revlimiter says:

      You either get wet or you smile because you have your hardtop installed.

      Personally, I have my hardtop installed. Love it. Not taking it off.

      • reed says:

        im doing this project in a few days. i plan on only running the hard top with spec miata hard mount brackets. if the soft top is gone, do i need to have the rain rail still in the car for the hard top to be waterproof?

  • […] one, But I double checked online just in case I was missing something, Fortunately I came across Adam’s (Revlimiter.net) website. There’s a pretty good tutorial written on there about removing the soft top. I did the exact […]

  • Bryan says:

    I still wish I could convince myself to do this. Pretty sure the wife wouldn’t ride along, though. Ohio’s weather is just too unpredictable and I just don’t want to run hardtop all the time.

  • […] one, But I double checked online just in case I was missing something, fortunately I came across Adam’s (Revlimiter.net) website. There’s a pretty good tutorial written on there about removing the soft top. I did the exact […]

  • […] one, but I double checked online just in case I was missing something, fortunately I came across Adam’s (Revlimiter.net) website. There’s a pretty good tutorial written on there about removing the soft top. I did the exact […]

  • […] decided to save some weight and get extra trunk space by removing the soft top. After reading this post on revlimiter.net, I was sure, that this could be done quickly. So I removed the hard top and started to disassemble […]

  • Ryan C says:

    Wanted to do this for a while now and this post pushed me over the point of no return.

    Took me an hour and a bit to do properly (including cleaning and whatnot) but it went off great!

    That soft top isn’t light! Can definitely feel the difference!

    Thanks for the writeup!

    One last exclamation mark!

    • revlimiter says:

      Agreed on the weight! I’m storing mine in the trusses above my garage. It was not easy to manhandle it up the ladder and wedge it between the beams. So much weight that I don’t have to carry around with me now. Life is good!

      And I’ve not missed my soft top once since I took it off last April.

  • Basil M says:

    I just get an HT for my 5 nc(mk3) and im thinking of removing the soft top
    for three main reasons… 1)Weight, 2)Loose the space back of the seats, and 3)Soft top when its closed might leave marks…

    But where ever i searched noone has done it (till now) to the nc miata…
    I hope would be somehow like your way..

    Thanks for your DIY.

  • samulis says:

    I would advise to do it before installing any kind race seat, trying to get to those 3 bolts when there’s rollbar and seat makes it bit wonky.

    Cheers and thanks Adam!

    Samuli

    • revlimiter says:

      hahaha! Agreed. The rollbar does make getting to those three bolts a bit difficult. But I can’t imagine trying to do this with ANY seat installed. Just so much easier to have the seats gone.

  • Ryan (oregonmon) says:

    Great, thanks for the write up. That’s it I’m doing it.

  • Slampen says:

    What are those seats?

  • anony says:

    This info will help.

    Tools needed – Sockets 14mm (seats)
    12mm (side bolts for the soft top bracket)
    10mm (bolts for the soft top rail)
    t40 torx (if you have side brackets) – only applies to some years

  • itskv says:

    With the hardtop installed, is the rain rail still needed? I thought of taking the soft top off when I installed the roll bar but kept it in because of the rain rails being removed with the soft top(OEM TOP)

  • Miata man says:

    Thanks for the helpful write up!!

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