Product of the Month - February, 1997


Robbins Cloth Top

with Glass Window

Sooner or later, time catches up with the soft top and the clear plastic window on your Miata. The top begins to fade, the window starts to get scratched and hazy, maybe even beginning to turn brown. The wear and tear starts to show - and you start thinking about replacing the top.

Your first thought is probably "I'd better call the dealer and order a new top." Stop right there! You have an alternative: The Robbins Cloth Top with a genuine, honest-to-goodness glass rear window! Lets start with the Cloth top itself. One word: RICH! This is a heavy, super rich textured material that is made of a combination of materials. Nothing like those cheezy canvas ragtops from the old British roadsters. This is serious, heavy, luxurious material. Ever see a Mercedes-Benz convertible? This top looks better. The black cloth (its available in custom colors as well) is a deep, dark black that makes the factory vinyl top look gray by comparison. When it gets wet, the water beads up on it like a fresh coat of wax on your paint!

Next lets talk about the glass. GLASS! Real, transparent, ice scraper-resistant, easily cleaned glass! What a pleasure! No more distortion in the rear view mirror. Rear visibility is virtually identical to the factory top - only clear. The first thing I did when I got in the car was rapped my knuckles against the glass to make sure it was real. And it was! When my friend Lester did that on his factory plastic rear window to knock the snow off, he ended up putting his entire fist through the plastic. That was when we decided to buy a Robbins top for his car.

Installation

Installation of the Robbins top is a fairly daunting job for the do-it-yourselfer. We did it, but we strongly recommend installation by a convertible top professional. Should you foolishly decide to ignore this sagely advice, be certain to have a friend available to help. There are several steps where two people will make your life much easier. We would also recommend removing the seats to gain better access. Additionally, we recommend that you do the work without removing the top frame. We tried it both ways - it was harder with the frame off the car. Also, be sure to keep a box of Band-Aids nearby.

Fit and Finish

The first thing you'll notice when you finish installing the top is that its tight. Real tight. So tight, that it took two of us to latch the top the first time! It was like a drum - we even bounced coins off the top! You might get nervous about it, but after about a week or so, it loosens up just enough to allow you to raise and lower it without too much strain. Over the long term, we think this is an advantage. Another minor point is that the folded "stack" of the top sits a bit higher on the rear deck. The result is that the factory boot is very snug. But it does fit. Robbins also manufactures a custom boot to fit over the larger stack.

After more than a year, the cloth top still looks great!

Bottom Line

If you're ready to replace your top or even just the rear plastic window, you should seriously consider replacing the whole thing with a Robbins Cloth top with Glass. Compared to buying a factory replacement top or window from a dealer, the cost of the Robbins is very competitive. Even if you're not certain you want the cloth or the window, Robbins manufactures an entire range of aftermarket tops for your Miata - at prices lower than the factory replacement.

Availability:

Brain-Storm Products
http://www.BrainStormProducts.com/
Dealer Alternative
http://www.dlralt.com/
Johnson Company
http://www.AutoTops.com/
MM Marketing
www.mmmiata.com
Moss Motors
http://www.mossmotors.com/

Performance Buyer's Club
http://www.PerformanceBuyers.com/

  Street Price (shop around)
Robbins Cloth Top with Glass Window $700 - $800
Many configurations available including vinyl top,
plastic window, with/without rain rail, etc.
Starting around $300

Copyright 1997, Eunos Communications