Applicable to: '06+
I have a base 2006 NC which does not come with the bracket on the firewall for the front shock brace. This bracket can be purchased for approximately $70 on numerous web sites which will then allow you to install the MazdaSpeed or other vendor front shock brace which typically run over $300. I read about an alternative from Cork Sport (Vancouver, WA). The Cork Sport front shock brace is a one piece aluminum brace for $169 that is a drop-in replacement for any other brace that uses the Mazda firewall bracket, but they also will include their firewall brackets for only an additional $10. I decided to go for this upgrade to tighten my cornering stability (I have installed a similar brace on my three previous Miatas).
In general the 8 pages instructions from Cork Sport were helpful and complete with 3 pages dealing with the installation of the new brackets on the firewall. The brace is a decent looking piece (not the billet MazdaSpeed, but OK) and all of the needed hardware was included. They predict installation at 60 minutes for the brace and an additional 30 minutes for the brackets if needed - it took me 140 minutes. I don't consider that a problem since leaning over my engine bay is a bit tough for my old back and I did have a cup of coffee during the process. All of this would be a glowing review except for 2 items that should be noted: 1. The brace has an aluminum weld where the brace and mounting bracket are joined on each side. The bead of the weld on one of the ends kept the nut from catching on one of the studs of the shock tower. It took me 10-15 minutes with my Dremel to grind this back. BEFORE you install the brace carefully check to be sure that all of the nuts are flat on the mounting bracket so that they will catch threads on the studs. If they are not, grind or file as needed. 2. Installing the brackets on the firewall (Cork Sport or Mazda) is NOT for the 'feint of heart'. While it is easy to remove the wiper blades, cowl cover and nuts securing the brackets for the A/C hardlines, it is not so easy to wedge these lines out of the way to get a drill in there to drill 4 holes in the firewall, secure the brackets and re-attach the A/C hardline brackets.
If you already have a front shock brace, I can see no reason to replace it with Cork Sport unless that lower weight aluminum is critical to you. If you have an NC that did not come with firewall brackets for a front shock brace and you are will to do some drilling and fiddling, then Cork Sport might be worth your consideration.
Under 30 minutes to remove completely
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10 August, 2008