A chrome style bar with twin hoops that outline the tops of the seats, a la the Shelby Cobra. Basically the same product as the Racing Beat Type II bar, the only difference being the size of the hoops (RB's are slightly smaller). Racing Beat's version also has a flat steel crossbar as opposed to tubular steel used by RAS Engineering. The RAS waiting list is also a little shorter, or so I hear. :) To be honest though, I chose the RAS version was because it was an virtually identical product that was $50 cheaper.
Product ordered from M-Roadster along with a few other nifty accessories. Had to wait for about 3 weeks or so as Percy didn't have any in stock and the bar had to be backordered. He was kind enough to have the bar drop-shipped to me directly from RAS so that might have saved a few days.
Anyway, the bar finally arrived, and I immediately pounced on the box. Opened it up, took the bar out, took a long hard look. Hmm. The welds were a little rough where the hoops join the bar, but not too objectionable. The bar looked good otherwise with a nice chrome finish and a substantial feel. My enthusiasm was dampened somewhat when I detected a tinkle coming from inside the bar.. I figure it's probably a metal sliver caught inside during the welding, but I have yet to notice any rattle after the bar was mounted. Also, one of the studs looked to have a thread defect in the form of a little bump, but it flaked off when I tried to thread a nut on. Gave me a scare though, figured I'd have to take it in to be rethreaded.
The installation was a mixed bag. After I took my box o'tools out I unfolded the instructions that came with the bar. What's this?! One (1) page, not counting the 3 illegible pictures. For that kind of money they could've added an extra paragraph or eight. I guess many of RAS clients are also mind readers. :) Naturally, I had to whip out the Enthusiast's Manual (which I highly recommend, btw). The first order of business was to disassemble the seatbelt towers -- nothing complicated, the only tricky thing is the removal of those plastic studs that hold the carpet down. Better have longnose pliers handy (and/or a specialized tool) or you are screwed.
Having done the above, tried lowering the bar into position. Not even close. Percy warned me about this before hand saying that the manufacturing tolerances are really really tight, and the mounting holes might need to be grinded for the bar to fit properly. After a half hour spent grinding the holes with a round file the bar fit perfectly. Alrighty then. Threaded all the necessary nuts and bolts. and et cetera. By the way, having long thin fingers and a 3" socket extension will spare you a lot of aggravation.
Once everything was in place I finally had to perform the unspeakable deed -- make a cutout for the bar in my perfectly fine panel. Eeek. Accomplished this with a keyhole saw (Percy says you can also use heavy duty scissors but I'd rather not experiment). Once over the initial unpleasantness I managed to fashion a somewhat decent (if not perfect) cutout. From then on it was pretty much a breeze to put everything back together.
The bar looks to be at least somewhat functional and it feels good to have it there. Hopefully it's effectiveness will continue to remain a mystery though. But it is a STYLE bar, after all, and it performs that function exceptionally well. It looks GREAT from pretty much any angle, and contrasts nicely with other exterior/interior chrome items (e.g. door handles, vent rings, etc). Really changes the car's personality and makes it stand out from millions of other red Miatae. :)
So in conclusion: recommend both the bar and M-roadster, and would do it again in a second. As long as you don't harbor any unreasonable expectations, the bar is worth every penny. If you have any questions about the bar or the installations feel free to E-mail me.
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