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

Since I picked the Freelander gearbox up, the Mazda has been living outside. This wasn't such an issue as I took it for a holiday shortly after.

I fitted the new Viofo dashcam, got a Jass Performance air scoop that initially damaged the car and I got a new stubby antenna. This antenna fell out of a UPS van and a nearby resident called me up using the number on the box so I could get it. I let the seller know I had it, no idea if they claimed from UPS and I don't care. Still picks up local stations, I knew it would pick up the FM transmitter I have inside without any antenna at all so I might just get a blanking plug.

Back in its home after tidying all the Freelander-related stuff up. The Freelander gearbox is right at the end, you can't even see it. Needs a good wash but I did remember to polish the exhaust tips as they were a bit grubby again. If done regularly they can be kept clean with just a rag.

It's still tricky to get out with the windows and roof up, I would really like to add roof or at least window controls in the boot so I can lower the windows before getting in or raise them after I get out. Probably going to talk to some electricians.
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Do the windows not drop if you hold the unlock button? I can't remember if that's an option on the Miata or if I'm thinking about my two Minis...
Do the windows not drop if you hold the unlock button? I can't remember if that's an option on the Miata or if I'm thinking about my two Minis...
It was available with the advanced key apparently and that was a US-only option. Pretty annoying and I had wondered if I could import the module but, having watched videos on how the advanced key works, I think it might actually be more hassle than it's worth.

Duplicating the window switches elsewhere is easy, having the ignition on so they work when the switches are pressed is less easy.
That explains it; I had the advanced key for my car. I always wished it would also drop the top if I left it unlatched, but Mazda said "no."
That explains it; I had the advanced key for my car. I always wished it would also drop the top if I left it unlatched, but Mazda said "no."
I thought you could do that with the SmartTOP with the advanced key but I clearly made that up in my head.

If I could turn the ignition on remotely then operating the roof and windows is easy, but so is stealing the car!
TL: DR - Video of roadtrip is a the bottom of the post!

Finally writing up my adventure from last weekend. I had planned a roadtrip but a combination of Death Valley temperatures and the inability to get this organised with one of two friends who wanted to come meant that it got put off until the last public holiday of the summer and the last day the schools are closed in this area. Monday 29th August.

This was the route I had planned out, using the motorway it would only take a few hours but according to Google it was going to take 8 hours. I haven't yet worked out what average speed Google used but I did the entire trip in around 7 hours, including a stop for lunch.


In the end neither friend could make it and I found this out on the Saturday before going on the Monday. I had been through the routes on Streetview and written a navigation sheet for my navigator to read that was to aid the OsmAnd maps, I haven't had any success with turn by turn nav on custom routes and sometimes the red line on the map just isn't enough. Without someone to read the maps I was kind of screwed, so I started looking around for alternatives. I knew I had a a little OLED display around somewhere, I had bought it to go with an Arduino and just play around, turned out to be a decent solution.

Much swearing later and lots of different types of code tried, I had all of the lines of instructions stored in the Arduino flash memory, a scrolling display to make up for the small screen and buttons to go to back, forward and to repeat the current instruction.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyinspjHfWo
I then set about making it car friendly, the screen and Arduino went into an old audio cassette case that turned out to be just about as perfect as I had imagined.

I have lots of USB breakout boards so abused the USB standard to give me an easy way to hook up the three buttons with common ground - a USB A to B cable. The button box was made out of the plastic cover from the old relay I removed from the bobtail engine bay, it actually worked out OK. Easy to reach and identify the buttons without looking.

Turns out I missed two instructions, one didn't matter as I knew which way to turn but the other led me to do a little loop around. I will add those to the list to ensure they're present on any future runs. Navigation aside, going through the routes on Streetview was very helpful as I had a good idea of what every road was like and there were no real surprises. Mainly I knew which roads were narrow or rough, not that either caused an issue for the MX-5 which ate up the bumps with ease and was good fun on the twisty sections. I didn't realise until I got back that I didn't get a numb arse at all despite being in the saddle for hours at a time.

Inspired by @Eye-Q 's hyperlapse video a few weeks ago, here's a timelapse of the trip. It starts at my first break stop outside Willington as I stopped the recording to check the view of the rear camera and forgot to press record again. About an hour and a half is missed but I would've cut that shorter and I can say from memory that nothing of interest was missed.

The important part is that I went through the (very busy on this day) village of Hope and then on to Edale, two villages @Misrabelle knows well from our little detour while in Adrian's 8-Series on the 2016 roadtrip. I didn't stop in the Edale car park as it was very busy and I just wanted to get on, plus the drivers of the weaving Juke went in there and I'm not sure I would've been able to keep my mouth shut.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKNoOeDiAFM
When I got back from the ~260 mile trip I had somehow increased the average MPG of the car even further, I saw it start to increase quite quickly so made it a bit of a game. I aimed to get 33.3MPG and got it! Still no idea what they had done to the car to bring the MPG down so low and I wasn't hypermiling.

Great trip, would do again. I wouldn't change any of the roads I drove.
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Things have been fairly busy for Ellie the MX-5 over the last month. First, I apparently picked up a puncture on the roadtrip so the left rear was slowly deflating. Sidewall cut so not repairable and it seems like I went to and from the MX-5 Owners Club national rally with a mostly flat tyre without realising. It actually went for its MOT before this and they didn't mention it. :dunno:

Checking the tread depths on all tyres to see what I should do next I realised that I had an odd tyre, a Michelin Primacy 3. I was sure I had matching tyres but maybe I'm not the most observant person. That tyre had less tread than the Nexens on the other wheels, so I decided to get it tossed along with the punctured tyre and two new Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 6 tyres put on the front. They grip very well indeed.

Next up was the service, a rather expensive 10-year service which consisted of every life juice of the car being replaced. Fortunately there isn't a cambelt so no major open-heart surgery required, but the cost added up all the same. I got a Mazda 2 (Yaris) for the day as I mentioned in the rental roulette thread. In most cases there's no difference as you would expect but, once warmed up, the gearbox is noticeably smoother.

So with that waffle out of the way, things that I've actually done to the car. Well, first I fitted a new wind deflector. This one is bigger and it's clear, so it should do a better job of keeping the car warm when I have the roof down and windows up (because roof down winter driving is still fun). It also gives better rear visibility for the interior mirror and the rear dashcam, which we will come to.

So yeah, the rear dashcam. I had this set up as an interior cam at first and the flipped around like it was in the roadtrip timelapse video. It's mounted using the GoPro mount I added and an extension, as you can see in the roadtrip timelapse I would've had to lift it higher to clear the factory wind deflector and then it gets in the way of the mirror.

Regardless of the height, I wanted to get it properly installed. That meant taking the interior apart again for running cables! You know, I think the interior plastics of this car are really cheap but that certainly helps when it comes to running cables. Once again I have pictures, most of these were taken so all of the cable tie locations are documented. Some are hidden.

This is how it's mounted and how I ran the cable before going back to tidy up. I cut a notch in the removable panel to let the cable come out, I intend to buy a replacement/spare anyway as I've literally screwed this part so I didn't mind making it a bit worse.

The cable disappears behind the back panel, goes past the access panel and then goes upwards. Now this lot just needs tidying.

Cable runs from the camera, under the upper trim and down the A pillar. The power cable for the main unit also does this but I never bothered to make a post about fitting that.

Cable goes around the interior fusebox to provide some strain relief and then follows the fat conduit towards the back of the car. Same as the charging cable I added.

The excess cable had to go somewhere, so here it is. Not the prettiest, I'll check it periodically to make sure it doesn't come loose. Also partially visible is the SmartTOP module.

That's about it. I've driven it quite a lot in the last couple of weeks, the furthest being to a friend's wedding last Monday. Soon it'll be going to sleep for winter and the Freelander will become the main vehicle, maybe I'll even get around to fixing the gearbox in that...
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My new knob arrived from Toxic Knobs this week. It's made from recycled HDPE plastic bottle tops, mixed in the custom colours I chose to match the car colours.

It's a little smaller than the factory knob and is much lighter, I was surprised how heavy the original was when I removed it, 255 grams.

Fully threaded on it looks a bit lost, so...

... I 3D printed a spacer from PETG. I think it looks great.

It's a little too big really, it forces the gaiter down so much that it squeaks going into reverse. I might sand it down a tad at some point.
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Apparently it's been a really long time since I wrote anything about the Mazda. It came out of hibernation around a month ago when I did a roadtrip down to Diddly Squat Farm, where I didn't stop because it was ridiculously busy. I still haven't put the entire trip together as a timelapse yet but here are the highlights again:

View: https://youtu.be/xzJpwnBF1aM
This is a placeholder where the full timelapse will go.

It was a nice trip and as always the car drove perfectly, with me getting out at the end not feeling like I had done hours behind the wheel. Until today, not much else happened. Well, one thing did happen...

I went into the garage to get brake fluid, to get to the shelves I had to move the car back slightly and then this little face appeared around it. She's never followed me around there before and actually followed me in. Once I came out she ran off with her airplane ears back and went half way up a tree.

Anyway, Every time I've driven the Mazda this year I've been annoyed by the cloudy headlights. They're not terrible but on an otherwise clean car they just look crap. So I ordered an Auto Glym restoration kit and some protective sealant that was recommended online.

The before shot, taken yesterday when I had been out in the car. I don't usually reverse in but the weather was supposed to be terrible today so I wanted to be somewhat protected from the rain. It worked out anyway, a little more difficult to get out but not impossible. Still wish I could open the roof and windows from outside.

The right headlight is clearly worse than the left, don't really know why.

Masked off and left headlight completed. OK so it wasn't as bad as the right one but I've never done polishing before so I wanted to break myself in gently. I mostly only used the polishing compound here, there were a couple of rough parts where stones have hit the lights and I hand sanded those a bit. It lured me into a false sense of security for the other side...

Couldn't resist this shot, on a fisheye lens this thing looks like a demented rabbit wearing Mexican wrestler eye makeup.

Right side before

After. This was a lot more difficult, I needed to sand down with the 2000 grit and then 3000 grit pads along the edges and on a few centre areas. I didn't go crazy with the coarser grits. It's not 100% around the edges but it's good enough for me and I can go back if I want to.

Sealant applied and buffed off. While waiting for this stuff to kick I also polished the headlights on the Freelander because I could, along with the third brake light on that car because it was a little foggy. I sealed the headlights on that too, and the Mazda badge on this because reasons. It definitely improves the look of the car

Another manic rabbit shot.

Hopefully the sealant will stop them from fogging up again within months, only time will tell. I could've probably used my old bottle of G3 scratch remover for this and may do so next time, you don't get much compound in the bottle that comes with the kit. I really wanted to remove the bumper but from what I've seen it's just a massive hassle and not worth it.
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The rabbit comparison tells me you should name it "Caerbannog".
That's genius, I can't believe I missed the comparison to that killer white rabbit. The car even has red stripes of blood down the sides from its victims! Should I get a couple of Miata teeth to go either side of the plate? :p

At the very least I need to make a sticker of 'That rabbit's dynamite!' for the rear window.
Yes to all of that. :mrgreen:
While I haven't fitted any teeth or made that sticker yet, I did go out for a decent drive today of around 115 miles/185km just fun driving. Found a decent sunny spot for photos with the clear headlights.

I've never seen so much poo on the roads as I did today though, shit all over the roads. Must be lots of people out driving their horses. :-|

Also how is it that car manufacturers struggle to channel the screen wash water on their convertibles? In the smart you got wet if you washed the screen and it's the same in this. Closing the window makes it worse because instead of getting a wet arm as it drips off the A-pillar you get a wet face.

I finally got around to editing and uploading the timelapse from my previous roadtrip. There's also a link to a '120fps' version that's a half speed 60fps video, if your computer is fast enough you can get 120fps by selecting 2x playback speed.

View: https://youtu.be/yS-ps2W3hEs
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I just realised that I've done two roadtrips since the last post here. One was last week and I've only just uploaded the videos, but still.

In early July I completed the Norfolk Rudetrip I mentioned in the Rudetrip thread, a nice 333 mile trip to the coast and back via plenty of silly town names.

View: https://youtu.be/M8I55q_bT_s

View: https://youtu.be/3QB_j9OdHIU
Following that trip I wanted to sort out the Bluetooth audio. The FM transmitter was initially brilliant, I don't know if the cheap circuitry inside was breaking down or something but it started causing a whine on the audio. That's either whine on the FM signal or whine back through the wiring of the car, I never actually tried it with an external power supply.

Instead I had two options - either find an alternative BT receiver or a different head unit. I didn't want to go down the route of the touch screen head unit again like I did in Bugsy, the resolutions of those screens are just so terrible compared to any modern phone and the software is so restricted. Instead, I bought an old Sony double-DIN head unit from eBay...


This is the Sony XSP-N1BT, one of only a couple of head units I could find that is specifically designed to use a phone as its main display. It actually has a pretty nice LCD but it's intended to be hidden. It doesn't actually fit an iPhone 12 Pro Max, but that's not an issue as I intend to upgrade to the smaller iPhone 15 Pro later this year and I can use my current Magsafe mount like so:

Well that head unit was as much of a collector's item as it was a solution, because I have been testing another BT receiver that I like so far. This one was sold specifically to fit an MX-5, with a pre-fitted connector that matches the one in my car.


I bought mine from Amazon but I've seen this for sale in a few difference places. Often they say that it isn't compatible with the BOSE head units, which is correct and incorrect at the same time. The socket on the head unit that this plugs into is actually used in my car, but as far as I can tell it's only by the factory hands-free phone connection. I don't need that if I'm connecting the phone via BT, but it does mean that the button on the steering wheel no longer does anything.

I tucked this in behind the head unit and ran a cable down to the interior fusebox, tapping off the fuse for the aux socket. There isn't much space for a fuse tap it's technically upside-down but I don't care. I used a 2A fuse, which I will replace with a 1A now a bag of those has arrived. So far it works very well, it doesn't have any whine on the sound and doesn't have an annoyingly loud start up sound either. I don't think I'll be using the Sony head unit.

Moving on, while watching some Youtube videos I saw review of the Soft99 Glaco windscreen coating and decided to give that a try on the MX-5. Part of the appeal was the prep compound that removes any existing coating, which I could use to properly clean the windscreen on the bobtail as it still has some crap on it.


The bottle and integrated applicator is simple to use and the stuff went on well. I also took the opportunity to go over the small chip on the screen with a DIY repair kit. I was hoping that it would be less visible on the dashcam and it's technically better, but it looks just the same on the dashcam. Oh well. With this stuff applied there's a bit of judder when the screen isn't very wet and the Welsh mist wasn't heavy enough for it to bead off effectively, so I can't give a proper opinion yet.

Anyway, with that done I planned another roadtrip, this time to Wales. It wasn't a Rudetrip as such, more like a trip of unpronouncable town names. Me and a mate went to ride on the Ffestiniog railway and have a gawp at some slightly crazy train designs that I've been fascinated with since I was a kid. This involved a pretty early start to skip the motorway traffic, a four hour drive there and then a five hour drive back taking in some scenery and country roads.

View: https://youtu.be/EZ5vPorYFiA

View: https://youtu.be/oB3qv98YB8c
We stopped on the way back to fly the drone over a river, which would've been great if it wasn't so windy. It was just too much for the little drone and it was struggling to fly back upwind, so I landed it after a few minutes. Here's the footage anyway.

View: https://youtu.be/ZbgGCqWCmF4
Went out for a drive tonight, because I could. This is a lovely area where I've taken a photo before, it was also a good excuse to give the drone a quick flight.

Unfortunately my pitstop location seems to be someone's piss stop location, judging by the smell and the now obviously stained tarmac. Lovely. Still a nice drive.
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