As the evolution of my Miata continues, I decided to address some safety concerns I was beginning to become aware of. The little roadster has quickly become my go to car for having driving fun, there is a delightful glee to be found in driving a slow car fast. But as my driving time with the car increases, some cracks have begun to show in the fun facade, leaving me pondering which changes need to be made in order to ensure my continued enjoyment.
Some of these issues I have already begun to address, I started working on the suspension with the upgrade to a set of Megan Racing coilovers. That was more of a band-aid fix until I can tear down the suspension proper. I have been spending a lot of time working on driver comfort, changing the steering wheel to an NRG aftermarket wheel with a spacer, moving the wheel closer to me and giving me some much-needed space so my legs no longer make contact with the bottom of the wheel. Since the weather has been so nice this summer, I have been spending a lot of time in the Miata with the top off/down (I have a hardtop that came with the car) and during a commute it dawned on me that without the top on, the car has no rollover protection without the hardtop (not that the hardtop has a lot of rollover protection to begin with). As I have dreams of taking this car auto crossing and to track days, I decided right then that I was going to have to fix this asap!
After doing some research, I decided to order the Hard Dog M1 Sport from Bethania-Garage.com directly, they are the manufacturer of the Hard Dog Racing line of roll bars. Now for the NA/NB Miata, Hard Dog offers multiple configurations to choose from. I had narrowed my choices down to either the M1 Sport or the M1 Hardcore Hardtop. The difference between the two is that the Hardcore comes with thicker bars and price increase. Since my car wasn’t going to see a lot of track competition, I decided to go with the M1 Sport with the single diagonal with the integral harness bar.
A popular “upgrade” for some NA owners is to get the M2 Sport bar meant for the NB. NA owners who are running an NB soft top with the glass rear window cannot use the M1 Sport bar, the down tubes will make contact with the glass rear window. The M2 sport has curved down tubes for this reason and it will fit into the NA chassis as well. The reason that I did not go with the M2 was that 1) I do not plan on switching to an NB soft top and 2) the M2 has a bolt-in harness bar instead of an integral one. I decided to get the single diagonal as some track day organizations require at least one for the bar to be legal for use and I wanted to try to keep at least some visibility in my rear view mirror.
Once I had my mind made up, I placed my order. It took about two weeks to be delivered, I later learned that the roll bar had to be made and powder coated, Bethania Garage are happy to answer any questions you have and they let you know when your roll bar ships with a tracking number. When the bar did arrive, I saw that it was shipped in some pretty thick cardboard, it looks like it took some dings in shipping, but when I got the box off I was pleased to see that the bar itself was wrapped and padded. The entire bar was powder coated and it came with all the installation hardware as well as a simple set of instructions. A more detailed set can be found on the Bethania Garage website.
Getting it out of the box and most of the shipping wrap off, I was really impressed with the quality of the bar. The entire bar was powder coated in black (you can order them in black powder coat, white powder coat, and a polished stainless steel), and the welds looked good (well what I could make out through the powder coat). Hard Dog has a good reputation in the Miata community for their quality and it definitely shows. The mounting plates are quite thick and looks like they will very resistant to warping once bolted to the car.
After seeing up close how quality this roll bar is, I cannot wait to get this installed in the Miata! Expect an installation video soon!