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I’ve had a project in the back of my mind for a few years – doing a rollbar cover for Sharka’s Blackbird Fabworx bar. But then… life got in the way and I never managed to set aside the weekend or two to do it.

Fast forward a couple years.



I had a stick of Hard Dog’s pre-formed SFI rollbar padding on Sharka’s bar. It’s basically suicide to run a bar without this stuff, and Hard Dog’s padding fits the Blackbird shape perfectly. But I’d never covered it with anything and the padding was starting to get a bit brown on the edges. Sharka always has the hardtop on, so it’s not a huge deal but… yeah. It was getting ugly.





Last year when I visited Benny and Pete in California, I noticed his GORGEOUS rollbar cover. Benny was rocking a single diagonal Blackbird bar and I asked about it immediately since I knew there wasn’t a ready source for the covers. Pete explained that he’d commissioned Hard Dog to make up a cover for his Blackbird rollbar after sending in measurements.

And they did it! And it was PERFECT.

I thought back about my rollbar cover project idea and decided I couldn’t possibly ask Hard Dog to make one for Sharka. Nope. I’d just make one myself. Someday.

Then the Fedex truck dropped off a box.



Pete, my very dear friend, decided to take matters into his own hands and have Hard Dog make up a rollbar cover for Sharka. Just out of the blue. Just to send Sharka a very kind gift. He contacted Moti (owner of Blackbird Fabworx) and got the measurements he needed. And then Hard Dog made the magic happen.

I’m just stunned. It’s such a wonderful and thoughtful gift.

Thank you Pete.

Now for some pix.


Fresh SFI stick installed


Rollbar covered!


Perfect fitment

It’s just… perfect. The whole thing is held on by velcro and fitment is spot on. There’s a tiny bit of fiddling needed to get wrinkles smoothed and seams laying flat, but it’s all of 10 minutes work.

The cover is nice and thin too, just the thickness of the vinyl. So if your hardtop is a tight fit, it’s likely that this cover won’t get in the way of anything.

I love it.







By a strange coincidence, I pulled the hardtop off and put on Sharka’s bikini top just a few days prior to the rollbar cover arriving. The weather’s been punishing at 105*F highs, but I missed the bikini and thought it was about time.

I even scowled about that faded SFI padding a few days ago… such a happy coincidence.

THANK YOU SO MUCH PETER!!! Sharka and I are extremely lucky to have you and the rest of the Miata tribe in our lives.

Now for a summer evening cruise.
 

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Very nice! Pete seems to be a really great guy and this just reinforces that opinion. People like him is why the Miata community is the best car community! :icon_cheers:
 

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Discussion Starter #2,487
Wow. Almost a year since Sharka had any change at all. Man...

So. I have side skirts now. :)




RS Limited side skirts!!! Huge thanks to Chris Horne for making this possible.

Sharka’s set of RS side skirts have seen some miles. They came with no mounting rail or hardware, as it was rusted out and useless. They’re in decent shape, but there’s a few little breaks and scratches here and there.

But they’re gonna be super shiny very very soon.


At the paint shop! This is Sharka's third visit. Once for a full respray, once for the BBFW rollbar to get sprayed, and now for the side skirts.


The lower lip scrapes on something nearly every drive. Four years of punishment has the paint cracking a bit. That small splitter helps a lot, but impact after impact with low pavement has taken the toll. Getting that stripped and re-shot while painting the side skirts won’t be an issue.


Last time in the light without skirts.


Home for the next week.


On the little lift. I removed the ~83 bolts holding the lower skirt on myself as I didn't want to wish that on anyone else.


I stole some hardware from around the paint shop and grabbed a piece of aluminum bar stock from Lowe's. This will let the skirts hang from the body like Mazda intended.

thanks for the mounting instructions John!!







Figuring out the mounts went like this:
1) Hold the skirt up to the car and mark the top edge with tape.
2) Install the metal bracket (36″ x 1/8″ aluminum) inside the skirt and figure out where to drill four holes.
3) Measure those holes.
4) Measure the body to figure out exactly where to drill two of the four holes.
5) Drill two inner holes.
6) Mount the metal bracket on the car with the newly drilled holes. Then mark the two outer holes.
7) Drill outer holes, apply hardware, test fit the side skirt.

I got the extreme pleasure of doing this myself BTW. (insert eye roll emoji here) Ken and Jerry were busy with other projects in the shop and said “Yeah, you can do it. Here’s a drill.” and then I got to figure out the mounting system…

and it worked!!!

(ps, yes, I originally wanted the trained body shop experts to do this.)






The metal bar worked great. It has to be spaced away from the body juuuust enough to allow the side skirt to slide in and make strong contact. I got lucky and found some washers that were just the right thickness.

The only issue was the bolt heads themselves. They stuck out too much in the front two holes and you could see them through the side skirt. A die grinder took care of that. So… yeah, I won’t be unbolting that mounting bar any time soon.


This was my very first time seeing a set of RS Limited side skirts mounted on a Miata in person. I was, and still am, super super pleased with my choice.

They’re subtle and beautiful. Hard to believe these weren’t made as option parts from day 1.

Fast forward a few days….










I randomly stopped at the shop on my way to get more printer ink and… boom! A pile of freshly painted parts. As in being carried out of the paint booth at that moment.

Still warm from the booth cooker.

SO HAPPY!

There’s nothing like fresh paint. Just nothing. I didn’t even want to touch it. Everything was just so flawless.

Also FLAWLESS. Every scrape and scratch was filled. Every broken mounting tab was fixed with a metal backing and fiberglass front. And even the front air dam ducts were carefully disassembled and sprayed inside.



This is what makes up Sharka’s paint. I didn’t post this when I got the car repainted… because I didn’t know! I never knew the Toyota color that went over the Crystal white stripe.

Paint: Sikkens
Body: M8 Montego Blue (his original color)
Stripe: 34K Crystal White (3 layers)
Stripe top coat: Toyota 062 Crystal White pearl (3 layers).
And of course gloss clear (5 layers) on top of that.

The Toyota pearl topcoat is really interesting. It’s super thin, not very white, and has the same green flake in it that Montego blue uses. The flake is incredible in person and something I’ve never been able to get a good photo of.

Anyways, after about an hour of standing around and drooling over the fresh paint, I got up the courage to start shoving the parts onto the car.
 

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Discussion Starter #2,488






So beautiful. So perfect.

Like I said, I was on my way to get more gauge printer ink and just happened to stop by Carmer’s. I then left, got the ink, and drove home by myself… late in the afternoon.

I picked up a freshly washed and beautiful Sharka that next morning.







I'm beyond happy. It's a subtle change, but the extra curve down low just helps so much. The RS skirts have such a great 90s quality to them. I love it.

I hope to not have another year between Sharka mods...
 

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They look great, Adam, congratulations! :icon_cheers: Seems like a quality paint shop, which are getting harder and harder to find. :(
 

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Discussion Starter #2,491
The one drawback of Sharka’s new side skirts is the lack of mud guard and increased danger of rock chips. Ever since my first few years with sticky tires and the near total paint loss behind them on the fenders, I’ve run mud guards. And after the repaint? I’m CERTAINLY running them. Hell, I run clear bra AND mud guards. But there’s just no way to keep that huge OEM guard and also have the skirt.

Something had to be done.

Driving around, I noticed a new Mustang with these tiny little black nubs sticking out between the wheel and the bodywork, just barely protecting its side skirts. An idea formed.



The robots came out to help me. A quick template with some paper and a tape measure was then traced onto some scrap 1/8″ ABS plastic I had lying around.

It’s really bad to laser cut ABS, as it produces hydrogen cyanide, so Shockwave’s job was done with the paper. The paper template fit well, so I transferred it onto the ABS and cut with tin snips. Then I sanded the edges and test fit on the car.



The guard fits well by itself, but a bit of forming with a heat gun helps get the curve nice without a lot of tension on those three little bolts. Be careful to not burn your paint or hands if you choose to do this.


Not bad.



That’s just what I was hoping for! A small guard to protect the front edge of the skirt from damage and keep big rocks from slamming into side body.

I flipped the template over and traced the other side onto the ABS.





They’re simple and unobtrusive. You don’t see these baby mud guards unless you’re looking for them. And they attach with the same hardware that held on the OEM side skirts. I’m really proud of them.

I haven’t done a how-to or free template for a really long time, so I thought I’d offer up these baby front mud guards to the Roadster community. Download a PDF here.



You can use either ABS plastic like I did or a set of those cheap, universal $10 mud guards you can buy at the local auto parts store. Trace the template onto them and then cut and install.

Please feel free to use and modify the template as you see fit. Just don’t sell it or try to make a commercial product out of it please.



 
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