Ownership Verified: An Inevitable Conclusion - 2012 Mazda MX-5 Kuro Roadster

The @lip reaction is the best part about getting a different car. :ROFLMAO:

Turns out even one sensible car of two is one too many for me.
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I wasn't supposed to be going out driving Elly today. However, I forgot to order the bits I needed to replace the wheel bearing on the bobtail and it was such a nice day it was a shame to waste it. I dusted off one of the routes I set out for the Smart in February 2019 and set off to run it in reverse. After last week I wanted to avoid the sunset shining directly in my eye holes so went anti-clockwise to hopefully have the sun behind me when returning home. It worked too.

Naturally, I stopped to take pictures.

I also recorded a video, I never did a walk around of the Tesla and it took me ages to show the Smart so I wanted to get it done. The location I accidentally found was ideal and made for a nice background. Someone was buggering around with an old car or something in the background.

I've covered about 135 miles since it was dropped off now, really getting to know it and I love the way it handles. I managed to break the screw holding my phone mount together last week and haven't fixed it yet, so I had to find another way to mount my phone while using the navigation. Very fortunately, it wedges in here perfectly. Used another phone to take this, reminds me how crappy cameras are on some phones. In the two hours I had the screen on with Google Maps open it only used 30% of the battery.

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I'm envious how much more prevalent auto climate control is in cars across the ocean...
Had my first concerning moment with this car on Friday. My sister was down for the day so was going to take her for a ride in Elly, however when I turned the key to start it everything went off. I did 70+ miles last week so it's unlikely that the battery was dead already.

Opened the bonnet, removed the battery cover (which has a hose clipped to it, strange) and noticed that as I did it the positive terminal on the battery was crackling. The interior light came back on. Seems like someone took the connections off this battery and didn't put them back on properly, the fact that the battery wasn't clamped down properly (neither hockey stick hook thingy was hooked under the bottom of the battery box as it should be) increased my suspicion. I removed the negative terminal, re-set the positive, re-attached the negative and then clamped the battery back down properly and everything was fine.

I noticed a couple of tiny rust spots on the inside of the boot lid, both on spot welds, so I put some evapo-rust gel on there to see how that deals with it. Crappy picture of one as an example:

The boot lock striker is a bit rusty too for some reason, I've daubed some gel on that too but I'll either remove it and properly soak in Evapo-rust before painting or I'll just buy a replacement.

Otherwise the car is perfect. I've been testing and modifying my old Bluetooth adapter module that I made for the Smart so I can try it in the Mazda, will see how it works. I did manage to pull a stupid today when visiting my work office and put my car park pass card in the cupholder, it's now wedged inside the cup holder lid so the lid won't open. Hopefully I can get it with a screwdriver...
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^ Haha, it's like the kitchen drawer problem when one utensil wedges itself against the upper front, refusing to budge. :ROFLMAO:

If I wasn't such a practial (wagon) guy I would drive a MX-5 like this. - There, I said it. - It's a cool car. Period.
I did manage to pull a stupid today when visiting my work office and put my car park pass card in the cupholder, it's now wedged inside the cup holder lid so the lid won't open. Hopefully I can get it with a screwdriver...
Good luck! There's a way to remove the cupholder "bucket" from the center console from underneath, but to get to that you have to be able to remove the center console, and there's a couple of screws holding it down under the little rubber "floor" of the cupholders. You may be able to remove the panel at the back of the console, pop out those screws, and give the console a bit of a jiggle to see if you can free the lid.
Good luck! There's a way to remove the cupholder "bucket" from the center console from underneath, but to get to that you have to be able to remove the center console, and there's a couple of screws holding it down under the little rubber "floor" of the cupholders. You may be able to remove the panel at the back of the console, pop out those screws, and give the console a bit of a jiggle to see if you can free the lid.
Thanks, hoping I can get a cable tie in there (I have some really big ones) to just slip between the card and the lid and hold the card down so I can open the lid, taking it apart doesn't seem too troublesome but I'd rather not do it if I can help it. That's a weekend job anyway.

I had a look at the spots where I had put some rust remover gel on and it's done a great job, the rust is gone. I'm going to get primer and paint touch-up pens from a supplier online that has the correct Crystal White Pearl and just touch it up to stop any more rust. As I can get to the back of that panel through the holes on the inside of the boot lid It's tempting to get some anti-rust wax and spray it inside, just in case it's a moisture trap area.

Anyway, Blipshift had a sale on recently with a bunch of older designs. I had a $15 voucher to use after the last shirt I bought came out crappy, so naturally as soon as that had this design for sale I jumped on it. Looks really good on a tri-blend.

Proper Miata club member now, although I still don't like anime. I do like stopping on gravel at the side of the road to put the roof down (even at night if it's dry), so I can spray gravel when I leave. I'm wondering if this thing has been tuned, it feels a lot more eager than I expected and likes to chirp the rear tyres.
You may want to give this a bit of a read, too: http://www.roadster.blog/2013/05/roadster-engines.html The bit on the VIS valves had me driving high-revs for about a week just for the noise.
Thanks, that's a really interesting read. I don't need another reason to rev it to the top end when warm because it's just so much fun but it's really interesting to see how it works. Also handy to see exactly where the the intake is in case I come across any floods.

Roadster.blog is just a great site overall, it's where I first read about the Kuro edition and naturally they have a page dedicated to it. I just bought copies of those brochures, mint condition from 2012. I bought the brochures for the Smart so I thought why not?
A few things to report on the Mazda. Firstly I got the parking pass out of the cup holder cubby and that now lives in the sun visor card holder thingy (didn't know that was even there, never seen one like that before).

Secondly the Evapo-rust gel removed all traces of rust from the number plate light panel and I've touched those spots in with a bit of white touch-up paint. I realise now that the panel is exposed to the elements and any road spray that comes swirls around will get onto it, hence why it had these little rust spots.

Otherwise I've just been enjoying it as and when I can. I noticed that the suspension squeaks a bit when I go over speed bumps and it's cold, it goes away when the car warms up so maybe bushes or engine mounts? I went out to a nearby forest for a walk on Sunday and it started to snow, not the ideal weather for a little sports car but I was pleasantly surprised at how well it handled the snow-dusted back roads near my house. With such direct steering you could feel any little change in front end grip and there wasn't much to be felt. Of course I booted it a few times but the rears didn't want to slip much either.

On the way back I found my new house in a parking layby.

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Ordered a new CD slot mount, strangely enough called CD Slot Mount from a company called CD Slot Mount. It's a mount for mounting with the, er, CD slot. Shown here in a CD slot with an ESR Magsafe compatible charger... mount.

Better than the previous one I had, which worked fine in the Smart but stuck out too far in the Miata and also blocked the clock, having this off to the side means I can see the time.
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Time for another update. First and foremost, I finally remembered to take a proof pic!

With that out of the way, I could start on proper projects yesterday. I wanted to get some shit done while I was off work for Christmas, however what I wanted to do and in what order wasn't planned as usual. Here's a kind of mixed up list of projects

Project the First - SmartTOP Module

I got online on the 27th and ordered a SmartTOP to allow the roof to be raised or lowered with a single button press and while moving at low speeds. To install this you need to get to a panel behind the passenger seat and fiddle around in there, so I took the seat out.

There is another reason for this, which I'll come to. With the seat removed I could easily pop the panel open, ready to plug the module in.

The module arrived today and it came with a free advent calendar. They must've had some left over and it expires in January, as you can see I've changed a few of the doors to a relevant date. I only ate three immediately.

Anyway, the module comes with a little extension cable that also splits off the cables required by the module and this requires removing a plug from the ECU behind the passenger seat. I was really glad I had removed the seat as it was a complete pain to get to the plug. After many attempts to unplug it with sore fingers I found that the tip of a chunky key is best for depressing the little tab while pulling the plug out. There isn't much slack on the wires so it's quite hard to remove.

Plugging in the module was easy, it comes with some double-sided sticky Velcro (the actual branded stuff) to mount it and I had already programmed it and checked for new firmware on my PC, so the thing just worked right away. I have it set to one-touch open and close at the maximum allowed speed (60 km/h). I doubt I'll be getting close to that but I'd rather it be my choice.

Here's it all installed...

...and with the rubber flap back in place.

There's a video at the end but I'm making you wait as it's a spoiler of what's coming in the subsequent chapters.

Project the Second - Seat covers.

With the passenger seat out yesterday, I could fit one of the black cloth covers I had. Fighting to get the plastic trim panel off the side of the seat was fun but I did it and the straps are all looped around the springs beneath the seat. It looks a bit rough when you get close but it's fine, it'll protect the leather along with not being hot or cold. The cloth is also much grippier too so I don't slide around in the seat.

After I fitted the SmartTOP module today I vacuumed out all of the accumulated crap that was in the passenger footwell and reinstalled the seat. Then removed it and reinstalled it again once I'd plugged in the electrical connector I had forgotten the first time.

The weather seemed to be holding so I went ahead and removed the drivers seat next, knowing that this would be more difficult due to the additional height adjustment this seat has. Apparently I had no idea, not only does it have that but it doesn't have accessible springs beneath the seat cushion to hook the cover straps to. Removing the height adjustment handle was very frustrating as there's a tiny circlip (that didn't ping off and take out my eye, fortunately) and then the spring has to be moved with a screwdriver to allow the entire handle to come off. Then the side trim can be removed.

With lots of swearing and gnashing of teeth I finally got it strapped up with cable ties as good as I could. The covers did come with some metal clips, I don't know where they are now or if they would have actually be any use. Don't look too closely. None of the straps interfere with the cables or the seat mechanisms.

Then that seat was installed. They look fine to me and will at least protect the leather. There's also a minor spoiler in this picture.

Project the Third - GoPro Mount

I've been wondering where to put a GoPro in the car, this chap (who also has a Kuro) mounted his on the wind deflector, but I'd quite like one of these clear deflectors and that wouldn't look good with a camera stuck on it. Also it'll be wobbly and get lots of wind noise. I realised that the blanking plate my car has instead of the roof release latch (for closing the roof) would be perfect, the curve of this part even matched up perfectly with a GoPro mount I had.

VHB is wonderful stuff but I'm under no illusions that it would stick to the grained plastic, so I drilled some small holes and have screwed it on. I've noted down the part number so I can look out for a replacement part to keep when I sell the car or just don't want the mount on show. I think it came out very neatly, I even lined up the screw heads.

Here it is in the car, bonus points if you spotted it in the picture above with the seat covers.

I don't know when I'll next take it out to get some footage but I'll post it here when I do.

There's actually a fourth project on the go but the part that should've turned up today... didn't. So I'll give that project a post of its own. I also have two different snow foam products on their way, one a pre-wash and one a post-wash. I'll go into more detail about those next week as I intend to give the Miata a good wash. It's pretty dirty.

Finally, here's the video of the roof in action:

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I'm still off work this week so I had planned a day for taking the Mazda for a drive before going back to work and probably waiting until Spring now before I drive it again. The temperature has been quite warm recently along with some rain so there isn't really any salt on the roads, however it's now going to be freezing again with the chance of snow and no doubt there will be plenty of salt on the roads.

I planned a route that took me past an old off road site that I used to go to, which conveniently is overlooked in several locations by a forest footpath. I walked the entire thing, didn't get any photos of the site (not a whole lot to see and the view was mostly blocked by trees) but I did get a couple of nice pictures.

With the mucky roads the car had picked up a nice dusting of crap. Turns out the left side was much worse but I never actually looked at it. All my photos are from the right view and that is of course where I gets in.

On the way back I came across an NB at the side of the road with a flat tyre. The guy driving had a spare but was waiting for a mate to arrive with a toolkit, sadly his aftermarket wheels didn't allow the standard NB or NC wheel brace to be used. If I was in the bobtail I would've been able to help but instead I just kept him company for a bit, we talked about both cars and then I carried on. He gave me a card for a local MX-5 garage that usually caters for NA and NB cars but I'll go over and visit anyway at some point.

The weather was still due to be good today before turning bad later in the week so it was time to wash the car before it went into hibernation for a bit. I was looking forward to this as I don't need to be as crazy careful as I was with the Tesla and I've never washed a white car before. I got two new products to try for this, the first being Bōsei Anti Rust Snowfoam, something that will hopefully seep down into all the cracks and help prevent the dreaded Miata rust that apparently still plagues the NC cars.

I was actually able to get the back end up on my ramps to spray the underside.

I used Auto-Glym Polar Blast as my main washing snow foam and then used Polar Seal, a hydrophobic coating that acts very much like a ceramic coating. I'm not exactly sure what's in it but it does work well. I don't plan to have this car coated, the salesman tried to talk me into it but I hadn't even seen the car so what's the point in paying to lock in any imperfections?

While these photos can't be compared fairly, I promise you that this was a big difference. Considering the state of the roads I expected it to be much dirtier though.

Project 4 is underway, I had to re-schedule the delivery of the item that I should've received last Thursday and it finally arrived yesterday, in the meantime I had done some 3D printing and did some more today. All will be revealed when I've got a bit further, however it's possible that I've done something nobody has done before and people might want to copy it.
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It's warm enough to wash a car outside?!
It's warm enough to wash a car outside?!
4-5C this afternoon apparently, warm enough for the water to be liquid and I don't feel the cold. The nitrile gloves I had on were like a wetsuit, the sweat inside kept my hands warm. :LOL:
OK, so I'm finally at a position where I'm happy to reveal this.

This is a bit of a long one but I think it's worth your time.

I don't think I've mentioned it yet but after driving the car quite a bit since it arrived, I've quickly realised that I need somewhere to put my left elbow. If I rest it on the centre console I can't comfortably reach the wheel, so I find myself either holding the wheel with me left arm floating in space (fine for proper driving, not so good for cruising) or driving with my right hand only. I needed... an armrest!

In the Smart this wasn't very difficult, someone had thought of it before me and offered the VW Transporter method, however I could only find one MX-5 NC arm rest, made by Zeta Products in the US.


I'm not sure if @WDWBen is familiar with this product, however as you can see above, it's really designed for the LHD market. I suppose that entire centre console is designed for the LHD market and was never changed to suit RHD countries... or it was designed for RHD and never switch around for LHD. Anyway. This armrest doesn't actually cover the area where I would want to rest my elbow, so I had to come up with something else.

I started looking at different armrests on eBay, eventually stumbling across an F30 BMW armrest that looked about right. Here's an example of the RHD armrest for those who may not have seen it before:


Using measurements and an image I made a mock up on paper to try for size and fit.

This seemed about right, so I went looking for a decently priced one for sale, trimmed in black leather. Turns out there aren't any as it's a recent enough part, good ones go for £70+ and truth be told I was never completely happy with this shape and size as it's much longer than the space I had, didn't quite fit around the other parts of the console. Therefore, when an E46 arm rest came up in my search results and I saw it was smaller, cheaper and seemed to be a better fit, I was very pleased. This is the shape of a RHD E46 arm rest:


I printed another mock-up made from yet another scaled image and was much happier with the fit, so £50 later and some messing around with DHL I have a brand-new looking armrest and a whole chunk of plastic I don't need (it came with the whole mounting bracket). I dismantled mine following an online guide so it looked like the one above. I had already been reading this website which offered a guide for fitting an E46 arm rest in an old 8 Series, so the design of base adapter plate was my starting point.

I decided to 3D print my adapter plate and made some slight changes to the design, however when the part was screwed on it looked the business. I would later have to remove a chunk of this plate so it didn't hit the top of the handbrake surround in the Miata, but more on that later.

Meanwhile, I had already been working on an adapter piece that would sit in the cubby and provide the anchor for the whole thing. I started on this immediately after ordering the arm rest. While it isn't shown here, I produced two types of adapter. One would sit deeper in the cubby than the other. This one would sit on the top, but the back of the cubby couldn't support it.

So I actually used both pieces and they would ultimately be joined together. Having my Ryobi cordless glue gun was very handy for this.

That was a solid mounting point, however there was a gap between the adapter plate on the armrest and these mounts. I shoved a bit of wood in there for this mock-up photo, which was too thick but let me determine the thickness of the intermediate piece I needed to make.

The piece was made, new holes were drilled through from the bottom and long screws (with hot glue) held it all together. These parts were all printed with 5% infill so there isn't as much material used as you would think, it was much better than trying to work with plywood or MDF for this.

Time for another test fit.

It needs a little extra support under this near side, as it can rock a bit if I put pressure on it with my elbow. I have some dense foam that I can cut for that. The colour also looks way off here but it isn't as noticeable in normal daylight.

Overall I'm really happy with this, it provides the support exactly where I need it. I'm trying to think of a way to produce all four components as one 3D model to offer to others, I'm not completely sure yet as such a thing would probably be larger than most printers can manage. Also it's only really useful for RHD so I'm not sure how many would want it.

That's it, all projects complete for now. I intend to order a clear acrylic wind deflector at some point and I forgot to take the GoPro with me the other day to test it, so that's still on the list.
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A few more updates on the Miata from this week. I still want to add a discreet charging port so I can hook the car up to a trickle charger or solar panel, it's going to be sitting for periods of time and I had battery issues on the Smart in similar circumstances. I've been trying to come up with places to put the port on the back of the car, in a place that doesn't require me to leave anything open. I think I've come up with the solution.

The boot lid of the NC has the number plate lights fitted into it and has three cutouts. I don't know why it has three cutouts, from what I can find all countries used a pair of lights rather than a single light or three lights. It doesn't matter, but UK cars have a blanking plate in the centre. That plate seems ideal for hiding a charging connector. It might get some crap thrown on it but the CTEK connector I'm looking at comes with a rubber plug so that should hopefully not be an issue. This is the one I'm looking at.


I already have a CTEK charger, their connectors are nice and robust and it's easy to get a male connector with a long lead by just buying an extension. It would also give me a quick way of seeing the battery status by opening the boot lid, handy if mostly unnecessary. I have the blanking plate here, I've measured it and the connector will fit. I've also noted the part number so I can buy a replacement.

With all of this in mind I took the number plate lights and blanking plate out. I had already looked up a video of how they come out and that conveniently told me that they're a common rust spot on the NC. Not surprising as I already treated a couple of spots here and they're exposed to the elements. Despite being a steel boot lid, mine isn't so terrible. This is the worst one:

However, I have some Evapo-rust gel and it did a nice job before so I may as well put some on there. Worst case is it buys me more time to sand and re-paint this area. I'm going to be buying some proper touch-up paint now as I found a chip on the wheel arch while washing it. I removed some of the bubbled paint and applied the gel, now I'm just going to leave it for a week. Theoretically I could just put it back together and leave the residue as a protective coating, which I may do for now.

Still working towards the idea of having a charging port on the back, I next want to see if I have a way to feed power to the front. The car has reverse sensors, so I wondered if those would have a 12V feed I could piggy-back on. In some ways it's a shame the NC doesn't have the battery in the back like the previous cars. In other ways it's not, as having a lead acid battery in the boot can lead to rot, stinky interior and more electrical issues.

I removed all of the trim (noting lots of missing trim clips, I will buy some more) and checked out the wiring. It's quite neat, looks like it's probably a dealer option rather than DIY fitment.

The module is clearly behind the metal panel, however there are lots of sharp edges around and without me knowing it the car had already bitten me and got a taste for blood. I didn't notice until I saw a shiny red blob on the metalwork.

With the panel removed I can see the module, a genuine Mazda unit that is apparently commonly found in the Mazda 3.

Unfortunately, it just steals power from the reverse light to operate the module. Clever enough I suppose but it means I don't have a spare feed I can use. There's a big connector with nothing plugged into it but it doesn't have any power to it with the ignition off. I'm going to see if I can find a Mazda forum to ask, I want to find the best place to but these obscure trim parts from anyway.

I've also finished tweaking the armrest so it's now pretty much perfect, even after stopping it rocking it would squeak a little if I put pressure on it, re-fitting the shell of the release button to the front helped this and some strips of VHB tape between the inner trim and the armrest stop things moving around too. It'll be interesting to see if I'm happy to have the arm rest there while doing spirited driving, I found that the armrest in the Smart got in the way so I would flip it up.

Edit: I went back around to the car to get a trim clip for its measurements (apparently there are lots of different types), to try some cable through the boot lid conduit to see if it would fit (insulated twin - nope) and to get a photo of the connector. I don't know if @WDWBen or anyone else knows what this chunky connector is for and why it's unused? If it's connected to a missing fuse or relay in the fusebox I should be able to use it.

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Gah, you doing all sorts of neat DIY things to yours and documenting it in such glory makes me miss my NC even more :mad:

Those cutouts around the license plate lights look similar to what I had, with the same spots of rust. I only looked at them to replace one of the lights, but the idea of putting the charging plug in there is nice.

Note that the middle cutout is a slightly different shape than the outside ones. I guess the original or at least potential future intended purpose could have been a reversing camera - not that one was ever an option on these, or that this car needs one, but a 3rd party setup with a large-screen double-DIN unit is definitely doable, and that cutout seems suspiciously well-fitting for one.

The parking sensor wiring looks similar to what I had as well, although mine was a bit more messy, with a bunch of bullet connectors holding some of it together - that was the source of my interminnent "constant beeping" issues. Yours looks a fair bit neater, but if those ever surface, I guess you know where to dig.