Fitting the IL Motorsports style bar

2 09 2010

Stylebars and Braces

I’ve been using a lovely K.G. Works Type III chassis brace for the last few months.  It’s a very nice polished stainless oversize replacement for the standard 1.8 NA chassis brace, complete with harness loops.  I did flirt with a Steelworks style bar and perspex windblocker combination for a few weeks, whilst testing out a prototype model.

Most style bars don’t have any rigidity and don’t offer any bracing – on the Mk1 MX-5 this is noticeable.  My car’s fitted with a lower front and rear brace, which stiffen things up, but even so the rear chassis brace that mounts across inside the cabin behind the seats makes a big difference to how the car feels.  When I removed the KG bar and fitted the first style bar you could feel an increase in the car’s flex.  You can feel this yourself by placing a finger on the top of the shutline on the door whilst driving – the flex is noticeable.

I still fancied the TT-style hoops though – so what options did I have?

I’ve been lusting after the IL Motorsports style bar for some time – in the UK these are sold by MX5parts.  Unlike most style bars, these have a continous bar running along the bottom, which should add some of the rigidity of the chassis brace.

http://www.mx5parts.co.uk/product_info.php/products_id/141

One came up used on the MX5Nutz forum, and I snapped it up.  I striped it to match my Roadster – I’m not quite sure this works, yet!

IMAG0001.jpg

Unlike my KG Works bar, which mounts to the chassis brace points fitted to late model 1.8 NA MX-5s and Roadsters, this bar mounts to the seatbelt mounting bolts, and then bolts to the side of the seatbelt tower.  They’ve a good reputation for build quality, but a bad reputation for fitting instructions.  As these involve drilling a couple of holes in your car, you don’t want to get it wrong.  Anyway, I took notes from the previous owner and thought I’d document it for the benefit of anyone else with one of these.  Fitting only took 40 minutes or so, and I did it in the dark…

Fitting the I.L. Motorsports Stylebar

First things first: lower the hood, and remove the seatbelts by unclipping the plastic cover on the top of the mount, and then unbolting the 17mm nut on the top of the mounting nut.  This is pretty tight.  Once you’ve done this, the large threaded bolt that attaches the seatbelt pulls out.

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Make sure you retain the plastic clips on the seatbelt flange!  Once you’ve removed this bolt underneath you’ll find a series of metal collars that the nut threads through.  There are three of these on each side: two shorter ones, and single longer one.  There’s also a metal washer underneath.  Remove these and place on one side.

You’ll be using a combination of these to get the bar to fit.

Remove the 10mm tonneau stud bolt on each side of the seatbelt tower, and try a test fit of the style bar.  This model sits on top of the seatbelt tower.  Underneath the top mount holes of the flat mounting plates for the stylebar, you’ll see a void which you’re going to fill with some of the metal collars removed earlier.

On my car, I found the best fit was achieved by taking the two shorter collars, and placing them in the hole with the flange ends top and bottom, to spread the force out best when the plate was bolted down – see picture below.  Placing these two beneath the plate, without using the washer, gave me the most solid fit.  Remember, you want the plate bolted and clamped to the metal collar, not just compressing the plastic top of the seatbelt tower.

IMG_1479.jpg

Place the longer collar on top of the stylebar plate, and bolt the seatbelt back in place.  You’ll be removing it again shortly, but bolt this down pretty tightly, making sure that the vertical mounting plates of the stylebar sit nice and flat, and the bar itself is nice and vertical.

IMG_1488.JPG

When you’ve done this, you’ll see there are two holes on the vertical plates of the stylebar, which for some odd reason do not line up with the existing windblocker holes the car comes with from the factory.  Out with the marker pen and the drill, then.

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The vertical hoops of the bar can be rotated to adjust the angle, hence the slotted hole above.  Get it lined up looking correct, and mark the hole.

Remove the stylebar from the car, and get ready to do the drilling.

Use a 7mm drillbit and carefully make the hole.  You’ll probably find the drillbit races as it cuts through the metalwork – just be careful of your soft-top!  I drilled a 3mm pilot hole and followed it up with the larger bit.

Refit the stylebar and loosely bolt it up.  Take the hex bolts that the stylebar came with, and thread through the holes on the vertical plate – these should line up nicely.  Use a washer on each side and bolt up loosely.

IMG_1486.JPG

I found if you lift the hood a few inches you can get a socket on the back of it, keeping the nut captive whilst you bolt it tight from inside the car.  As I was doing this in the dark, a headtorch came in very handy at this point.

The stylebar should be looking pretty good at this point.  You can now start tightening the bolts.  I’d suggest starting with the vertical plate bolts, then doing the seatbelt mount bolts.  The latter should be very tight.

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Properly dark, now.  Time to pack up for the evening.

So what’s it like?

I drove the car to work this morning.  First impressions – I’m 6’1″ and I have my seat pushed nearly all the way back.  The headrest touches the top of the hoop and it’s a fairly tight fit, but it is comfortable and more importantly it doesn’t squeak! The harness rings on my KG Works bar used to rub on the vinyl seatback and make mouse noises – this doesn’t.  So, the big question is – does it brace the car, or is it purely cosmetic?

There’s a few potholes and roundabouts on the way and it was immediately apparent that this does stiffen the car.  it feels tighter than the standard chassis brace, which is more than I could have expected.  So it would seem that bolting down to the seatbelt mounts and the side of the towers does work.  Looks good? Check.  Makes the car feel stiffer? Check.  Bonus!

No problems with raising and lowering roof, and the perspex window fits neatly underneath it without any issues when unzipped.

IMAG0356.jpg

I’m really pleased with the result.

Notes – On rollbars and stylebars

There’s a big difference between a rollbar and a stylebar.  The former is a safety device, and will be not only bolted to the seatbelt tower area, but will also have some lateral fixings which bolt to spreader plates that are fixed to solid bits of the car.  The latter look nice but provide no protection in the event of an accident.  IL Motorsports do refer to this product as a rollbar in their fitting guides, but it’s not – it’s a solid stylebar.  It does provide lateral bracing, which seems slightly better than the standard chassis brace fitted to late model 1.8 cars, but no more than that.  If you want something that will protect you in the event of a roll on a trackday, then checkout a Hard Dog or TR Lane’s stuff.

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3 responses

17 10 2010
rich

Fantastic article! I have just bought the same bar 2nd hand complete with matching u shape windblocker. These instructions are far more comprehensive than the manufacturers. I do have a question though, it appears that the spacer sleeves were not used in the installation, is this correct? I ask mainly because I have not been given them by the previous owner and was considering my options for fitting. Thanks.

17 10 2010
landwomble

I bought mine used, so not sure if I was missing anything. You need a combination of the metal collar spacers so that when you tighten down, the bar is clamped against the metal collar rather than the car plastics taking the strain!

17 10 2010
Rich

I guess i’ll be ok then if the collars are already in the seatbelt mounts. Have you used the matching U shaped windblocker with these style bars? I have one and have read that it is difficult to fit in conjunction with the bars. I would check myself but my car is at a garage currently, having some work done! I’m chomping at the bit to get these fitted along with my OEM Eunos Strut Brace. :o)

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