M&T Manufacturing

Economy One-Piece Top - M&T Manufacturing

[9/28/2006] Reviewed by: Bob Winslow -

Applicable to: '90 - '97 1.8 liter

The top is called a Economy Top because it is very inexpensive and is made one piece with a vinyl rear window that does not zip out. This allows them to offer the top for $169 plus shipping or $193 with the hold down cables and installation instructions. The material quality is the same as their full priced tops and the workmanship seems excellent. The non-zipping window is very large and clear making the Miata much more fun to drive with the top up. It is welded into the top and seems to be done very well and seems like it will last.

Installation was pretty straight forward. I have not had experience with a top before and as long as you work carefully and do not get frustrated and fiddling with it, it is something most can do. The hardest bit is the rear-side attachment - the area is very tight and just took a long time. Just a matter of patience. I was pretty carefull on the take off trying to note how the thing went together - I cannot over emphasis this. The instructions give you the order of operations but you really have to learn how it goes together by taking it apart. I missed exactly how the side hold down cables where threaded so I had to install those a couple of times. My one mistake was not ordering the kit with the hold down cables. I figured I would use the old ones but when I took off the roof one was broken and the other had a lot of cracked shielding so I had to order those and delayed my project 3 days. (BTW I paid $20 for overnight shipping on the cables and M&T sent it Priority Mail which took 2 days - they made $15 profit on shipping!) I have read some reviews to just leave them off but that seemed like a bad idea. They were not difficult to thread into the seams of the roof (the first step before installation); I cut up and straighened a wire coat hanger and taped the spring end to the wire and threaded it through. The rest of the installation went pretty quickly. Bows were very easy. The rain rail was simple for me too. This is the 3rd top for this car and the previous owner did not pop-rivet the top to the rain rail so I did not have to take out the rail. The holes for the weather striping and front bow were marked but not made on this top. All the markings were accurate so I just used my leather punch to make the holes. You will need to have a punch - I have one of those wheeled punches so you can select different hole sizes. I took out the passenger seat to work on the top. I would definitely recommend this so you can squat / sit while working on the top. I do not think I could have done it without taking out the seat but I did not see any need to take out the other seat. I worked slowly. I would say it took 3 hours to remove the top and 4 hours to install it, including clean up and seat installation (but not trips to the stores to get screws, glue and pop-rivets).

Top looks good! Tight but with a little elbow grease I could close it. It will stretch out in the hot Texas soon and seems to fit well. This is got to be the bargain in tops! If you have concerns that the rear window does not zip out, you can do what I did. I took some 3" plastic pipe and wrapped it in chamois material. I put that into the window when the top goes down to make sure it does not crease.

Over 30 minutes to remove completely

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