…and now I fit!

Yeah, I am a bit smug :)

Yeah, I am a bit smug :)

Anyone over six feet tall can tell you that their seating position is almost always compromised in a sports car. And, as you’ve heard me mention before, my biggest issue is always headroom. To solve the problem I tilt the seat back enough to get my noggin below the headliner, and then scoot the seat forward as much as my legs can take. This solves the height problem, but has the side effect of putting the steering wheel too far away.

There are many body types in the world. I’m 6? 3”, 220 lbs, with short legs, and an exceptionally long torso (my inseam is only about 32”). I’m probably one of the hardest bodies to fold into sports cars, let alone a Miata.

For the seat I ended up going with an Ultra Shield “Spec Miata” model. It’s a fully tig-welded aluminum bucket, with an almost-superficial layer of fabric. Perfect for my needs. It comes sans mounting bosses, so I was left to work out how to install it on my own. After some test fitting to find my desired seating position, I made a small bracket that bridges the front of the seat to the stock seat rail mounts. In the back I planned to bolt directly through the bottom of the seat and through the floor.

Seat Bracket Bottom IMG_0168Two pieces of strap steel form the brackets. A bench vise and a ten-pound sledgehammer made quick work of the bending. Then, the tedious task of test fitting. The problem: the stock rear seat mounting bosses were right where the lowest part of the seat needed to be, and were adding an extra half-Inch to the height of the floor pan. I could have left them where they were, which would allow for a stock seat to be installed again someday…but that’s for sissies.

The two stock bosses are held in place with about a million spot-welds a piece. Simply find them (you’ll have to scrape away a bit of seam sealer and some nasty asphalt stuff) and drill them all out (they look like small round depressions, and yes, you missed one). Then pry each boss off with a crowbar. With the bosses removed, I took the liberty of “lowering” the floor using my new best friend, the sledgehammer. This gave me the extra half-inch of clearance that was desperately needed. With the front brackets attached I drilled through the seat and the floor in one pass, and then added a high quality fastener.

Seat Bolts interior DSCN5794

Seat Bolt undercarriage DSCN5795

The bolt I used is a bit too long, so I’ll replace it with a shorter version soon. For now, it holds the seat in place nicely. You can also see my floor pan “modifications”.

So there’s half of the solution, my headroom and legroom issues are solved. I now have a half-Inch of clearance between my helmet and the hardtop as opposed to none. Now to get the steering wheel back within reach. This is an easy problem to solve as almost any quick release hub will move the wheel closer to the driver. In my case I needed to move the wheel around three or four inches closer to have it back within comfortable reach. The wheel and quick release I used are available in a package from Miata Cage. Install is simple, just remove the stock wheel and thread on the adapter spline. Then drill a couple of depressions for the set screws that hold everything in place. Viola!

Steering Wheel Spline shaft DSCN5792In the interest of keeping the car street legal (enough), I made a few discreet modifications to the stock parts. As you can see, the wiring and associated plastic slider for the airbag and horn have been removed. The turn signal and windshield wiper assembly also needed slight modification in the form of my friend, the sledgehammer. The plastic collar that surrounds the steering shaft extents just far enough to interfere with the spline adapter. The solution? ‘Hammer it out! …gently. I got a bit to aggressive with mine. I suppose you could use a hole saw, but where’s the fun in that? Anyways, after the center section is cleared, the adapter should thread on fully. (Note: There is still plenty of slack in the wiring to remove the assembly, if it should ever be needed). You make a compromise with this setup as you will lose your auto-canceling turn signals…so sad,

In the interest of safety I had Chase Race tack weld the spline adapter in place. The last thing I need is to have the wheel come loose in my hand during a hard corner. This setup moves the wheel about two inches closer to the driver, not quite enough for my taste. So, in order to find that last inch I chose the MOMO Mod07 wheel. This wheel has a deep dish design that brings the wheel almost an inch and a quarter closer to the driver, just about right for my needs.

Complete Package DSCN5801

(Insert John here)

After driving with this setup for a few thousand miles I’m quite pleased. The wheel feels great (absolutely zero slop in the adapter), and the seat is, well I can’t say comfortable, but it’s certainly better than the way I used to cram myself into the car…

Yeah baby DSCN5815

Yeah baby!

Tadaa! I feel like a normal person in a Miata!

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