1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata Long-Term Road Test

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1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata: Coupe > Roadster

August 19, 2010

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As Erin indicated, last week I picked up a Craigslist hardtop for Project Miata and ditched the blown-apart softtop. It's now a step closer to a true coupe, which is a variant of the Miata that Mazda should have made in the first place. I'm no fan of ragtops for reasons I've mentioned previously -- in my opinion, Miatas are good despite their folding roofs, not because of them. But you know what they say about opinions.

Two protruding studs at the rear deck ("Frankenstein bolts," as they're known) align the hardtop's rear seal, while two latches at the windshield header and two more at the base of the b-pillar do the heavy lifiting in securing the hardtop to the car. That is, if your Miata has side striker plates which this one does not. No matter. For additional security I picked up some Spec Miata brackets and bolted that sucker down.

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The hardtop was not designed to be chassis-stiffening item but it does provide some additional structure by "closing the box," tying the two discrete ends of the car together. It's a difference you can feel when you drive over bumps. The car drives more "all of a piece" now. There's still a lot more chassis stiffness to be had -- NA Miatas are flex machines -- but the hardtop makes a difference you can notice.

There's noticeably less drag at freeway speeds too, and external noise is quelled better, though the hardtop tends to amplify interior noises. Weight-wise, it's about three pounds heavier than the softtop + now-useless brackets, bolts and claptrap that held the softtop in the car.

I'm digging the hardtop. Looks cooler, too. (Sorry the photos are sort of grainy; was using an unfamiliar camera.)

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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