According to all my searches online, I could only find two brands currently offering roll cages for my old Alto Works, Cusco and Saito Cage. Cusco has two sub-brands, Safety21 which is made out of heavier but cheaper steel and D1 which is their lighter chromoly design. Saito Roll Cage is more of a custom builder, as they make cages to-order, but offer a plethora of custom options that Cusco does not, including varying cross brace designs, materials, colors, and even additional bolt-in mounting points.
None of the options available are weld-in cages, which for my intents are purposes is more than adequate. This will make installation much easier and is adequately safe for what I need. Further, bolt-in cages allow simple transplantation for when I will eventually move it to another Alto.
Am I planning to get into a rollover? Obviously not, it’s highly unlikely that I will get into an accident of that sort. And since I will not be doing wheel-to-wheel racing, it is not for abiding by racing rules. Honestly it might just be for the look, but I am also buying one because I don’t trust the safety of the car, even if I am only driving it at 5/10ths around town.
With so many “points” available, I thought about my needs and narrowed it down to either a 6-point cage that can still allow 4 passengers or a “10+ point” cage with some side bars for side impact protection.
With all the options available on the internet, what did I go with?
While new prices are fairly reasonable for Cusco, starting at around 50,000￥ ($460 USD) for a six-point, ever the frugal person, I looked for used options online. I found some 4-point roll bars for as little as 20,000￥ in rather poor condition, but I held out past a 30,000￥ 6-point one til I found the exact model I wanted: A Saito Roll Cage that went for 70,000￥ ($645 USD), unfortunately located all the way in Iwate, 12+ hours away from me and the seller was not willing to arrange shipping due to the size and bulk.
As it just so happens, I was planning a summer road trip to Hokkaido and I would be driving back, passing through Iwate. (Check out my recent Instagram posts to see my adventures.) I contacted the seller and arranged to meet him at his home in the beautiful mountainous countryside, picking it up and squeezing it into my Swift Sport. I drove it home like this, cramped with two weeks’ of clothing, camera gear, and camping equipment.
Why did I go through all the trouble to buy a bar that was nearly the price of a new Safety21 steel cage of similar design? This cage has virtually every single option that Saito offers (and even doesn’t offer) on their website. The bars are made of lighter chromoly, the X cross brace is made of super light aluminum, the bar is a true 8-point brace with two points of mounting by the front seat belt mounting points, and it also has side bars. For all these complete options, the bar would easily sell for well over 110,000￥ new, so in this respect, the price is quite reasonable.
Time to get it installed! Of course, this necessitates striping out the interior. I knew eventually the seats had to go, but I also had to remove the rear quarter interior panels and pull up the corners of the carpet.
I also spent a bit of time cleaning up the mounting plates of the surface rust and the silicon residue leftover from the previous owner’s installation.
Read on next week for the final progress!