REPLACEMENT CONVERTIBLE TOP

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REPLACEMENT CONVERTIBLE TOP

Postby bernhfv on Sat Nov 13, 2010 2:19 pm

I recently bought and am restoring a 1975 Fiat Spider. It has a 17 year old aftermarket vinyl tan convertible top that has several tears in it. I'd like to replace it with a higher quality canvas top in the hopes it would last longer. I have been looking at the regular online parts places and find that these run from $400 to $600+! However I have found some on EBay for around $350 and then a site that has 'em for as little as $285 (yup, canvas, not vinyl!). This really cost cost one is at http://www.topsandseats.com.

I am wondering if anyone has experience with this company and if there are other places you have gotten a replacement canvas top at for a really good price.

Frank
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Re: REPLACEMENT CONVERTIBLE TOP

Postby wikkid on Sat Nov 13, 2010 2:48 pm

Properly cared-for vinyl will last a long time. Look at 303 Aerospace protectant; they have a UV protection/preservative spray for vinyl, and also products for canvas care.
Be sure you work with a company that will give you good instructions. Are the cables included in the kit?
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Re: REPLACEMENT CONVERTIBLE TOP

Postby johndemar on Sat Nov 13, 2010 7:38 pm

I've wondered how there can be such a spread in pricing of canvas tops. I realize some will come with the cables and instructions although the instructions on Chris Obert's site is pretty complete. So why would one top be worth $250 more than another? I'll be replacing soon, so any comments are appreciated.
76 Fiat 124 Spider
One owner since July 20, 1976
Amadio Motor, Jeannette, PA
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Re: REPLACEMENT CONVERTIBLE TOP

Postby wikkid on Sat Nov 13, 2010 8:56 pm

The problem is that unless someone can come along and post who has seen and used a bunch of the different options, say, from researching them at a big Fiat meet, then if everyone else comes along and says, "No prob's with the one I went with," that doesn't leave you with much to go on.
I think the cut of the top for a good fit would be important. The Haartz fabrics or vinyls all seem pretty comparable; some offer more color options than others; I don't know of any major differences in construction detailing that would make one type superior to another.
In addition to the ones on fleabay and the ones available through Fiat parts vendors, here is one US firm I have looked into:
Convertible Top Guys. Up in Rhode Island. They also do leather or vinyl new upholstery sets - both tops and seat sets apparently from original patterns.
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Re: REPLACEMENT CONVERTIBLE TOP

Postby meangreenspider on Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:24 am

I used a cloth top from topsonline and am happy with fit and appearence. I think it was $320
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Re: REPLACEMENT CONVERTIBLE TOP

Postby baltobernie on Mon Nov 15, 2010 5:13 pm

I'm very happy with my Haartz cloth top from Electron in New York; $418

Whichever vendor you choose, make sure that you order the correct top for the front bow that's on your car. There are "early" and "late" versions, but (like everything else) your frame and bow may have come from a different year car. This is an example of "early". "Later" are squared-off on the corners. Personally, I like the later look.

Image

This top was installed by a pro. I blasted and powder-coated the latches and the hoist pull ends. Dolly and hammered the bow to make it fit perfectly with the top of the windshield. A little body filler to smooth it out. Also welded in nut plates to keep the hoist from pulling out with OE flimsy sheet-metal screws. New front gasket, cables and velcro. He provided a few extras, such as vinyl wrapping the front bow and covering the intermediate bows with snap-on plastic caps for a finished appearance. Took him/us 5 hours, working from a prepped and painted frame and bow.

Image

Image
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Re: REPLACEMENT CONVERTIBLE TOP

Postby puddin on Wed Nov 17, 2010 7:51 pm

i bought a vinyl from conv top guys for 247 w/ shipping -- put it on myself looks pretty good -- just wish i could find the front bow seal weatherstrip..
Mark
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Re: REPLACEMENT CONVERTIBLE TOP

Postby wikkid on Wed Nov 17, 2010 8:29 pm

One issue between canvas and vinyl I have seen discussed is that the vinyl is more forgiving if you want to put the top down before it is fully dry. Canvas won't react well to being folded up wet.

I've also heard people say canvas is hard if the car is not garaged, but I think with UV protection like 303 Aerospace products, then you'd be ok on that count.
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Re: REPLACEMENT CONVERTIBLE TOP

Postby samthedog on Fri Dec 17, 2010 4:44 pm

Not to Hijack this thread,but I'm searching old posts instead of asking a lot of stupid questions.
This 72 is my first Fiat.
Need a replacement top. The frame works fine, but the vinyl is brittle and has a tear.

Looking at tops in the IAP catalog. They have high quality Vinyl tops as well as cloth.
Vinyl is about half price of cloth.
Checked to see if the plastic window is different,but seems to be the same on both.
40 gauge.
I want the best top,and if it more expensive that's ok on this item.
Most times more expensive is better, but not always.

I plan on cloth, but before the order is placed, are there any real down-sides of this material?
1972 Fiat Spider
Restoration underway. Spring 2011 deadline
Nashville area
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Re: REPLACEMENT CONVERTIBLE TOP

Postby azygoustoyou on Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:35 pm

Hi all,
I've read this post and thought you all have good info about tops. I also need to get a top eventually. For those of you that are going to purchase new tops. You have to consider the thought of where your going to keep your car. Mine will be garaged kept. So really how often are you going to use the top. I plan on driving my car pretty much when it's nice outside. Of course you can't always control the weather and you want it to be operational. My thoughts are.. The top on my car will serve most of its life folded up. So I don't plan on spending a ton of money on the top.
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Re: REPLACEMENT CONVERTIBLE TOP

Postby NJFIAT1981 on Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:49 pm

I used Topsonline for both my Spiders. Cloth option was a little over $300.00 each. Nice product at a good price. Very happy with the results
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Re: REPLACEMENT CONVERTIBLE TOP

Postby baltobernie on Sat Dec 18, 2010 8:57 am

azygoustoyou wrote:Hi all,
My thoughts are.. The top on my car will serve most of its life folded up. So I don't plan on spending a ton of money on the top.
I was in the same predicament, Brady. But the nicer the rest of the car is (and your's is looking very nice) the more you'll want all the bits to look good. Plus, unless you're going to keep it covered continuously with a parade boot, a good portion of the top is still visible.
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Re: REPLACEMENT CONVERTIBLE TOP

Postby v6spider on Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:54 am

If you plan on keeping the car. get the nicest quality top you can afford. I spent $600-$700 on the IAP Sumbrella canvas top I purchased over 7 years ago and i will have to say that it is still like new. I purchased a cheap vinyl top for another convertable that I sold a while back and that top doesn't look so great any more. So i can say I have seen it first hand you get what you pay for... just my two bits... ;)

rob
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Re: REPLACEMENT CONVERTIBLE TOP

Postby kmac33 on Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:38 pm

For those that need an "early" top, I have for sale, a brand new, never opened, high quality black canvas top from World Upholstery that I paid $450 plus shipping for. (They are selling them slightly cheaper now). I'll let it go for $325.00 shipped.
Kevin McMullen

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1980 Fiat Spider
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Re: REPLACEMENT CONVERTIBLE TOP

Postby DUCeditor on Fri Jan 07, 2011 8:15 am

The vinyl/cloth conundrum is common. Durability-wise I think that initial build quality is more important than which material is used.

The vinyl top on that was on my `77 when I bought her in `88 lasted until this year in good shape, finally suffering two faults: Some seams started to open (identically on both sides) and the velcro inside lost its ability to seal making the car very noisy with the top up. Other than that it still looked pretty good.

I closed the open seams with shoe goop cement so she was once again water tight and then waited for a sale at IAP to purchase a replacement. One warm weekend this Spring on she'll go.

I almost never drive with the top up and almost always use a boot cover. Thus vinyl completely satisfies my need. If I did often drive top up I'd have sprung for IAP's cloth model.

-don
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