TOP­PING OFF A ’70 CUDA

IN­STALLING A NEW CON­VERT­IBLE TOP ISN’T AS DIF­FI­CULT AS YOU MIGHT IMAG­INE ONCE YOU PLAN FOR SOME REPO­SI­TION­ING.

Mopar Muscle - - Contents - TEXT AND PHO­TOS: MARK EHLEN

In­stalling a new con­vert­ible top isn’t as dif­fi­cult as you might imag­ine once you plan for some repo­si­tion­ing.

As is prob­a­bly true for most do-it-your­selfers, car en­thu­si­asts don’t like to do things twice. We ex­pect stuff to work as ad­ver­tised the first time. A lit­tle fine­tun­ing is one thing, but hav­ing to fid­dle around with the lat­est go-fast gad­get for very long will quickly lead to post­ing neg­a­tive re­views.

Bolt-ons should bolt on and not have to be cus­tom fit­ted, mas­saged, and re­worked. This is ex­pected from hard­ware and wish­fully hoped for with elec­tron­ics, but what about soft­ware? Not com­puter soft­ware, but the soft parts of a car like the car­pet, seat cov­ers, and con­vert­ible tops.

Yes, the fab­ric parts of a car. The fit is a bit more sub­jec­tive to each one. In some ways it’s like a fine suit. The pat­tern is ba­si­cally the same for ev­ery­one, but the fit is tai­lored to each in­di­vid­ual.

In­stalling a con­vert­ible top will make more sense if it’s thought of the same way. We tend to think of one Cuda be­ing just the same as the next one, but any­one who’s ever spent time with a muscle car will tell you that they’re not at all iden­ti­cal.

When it comes to fit­ting a new con­vert­ible top, this is es­pe­cially true if all the me­chan­i­cals of the top frame have been re­moved, re­placed, or re­stored in the process, as even sub­tle changes there can af­fect the over­all fit.

What Muscle Car Restora­tion of Chippewa Falls, Wis­con­sin, has learned over years of in­stalling con­vert­ible tops is that each one needs to be cus­tom tai­lored to the car. They aren’t sim­ple bolt-ons, but rather each one will need mul­ti­ple repo­si­tion­ing of the dif­fer­ent parts of the top to get ev­ery area tight and wrin­kle free.

That means that you can ex­pect to have to pull up and re-sta­ple some ar­eas and peel back parts that have al­ready been glued — per­haps mul­ti­ple times. For­tu­nately, con­tact ce­ment will al­low repo­si­tion­ing for up to 24 hours, but even so it would be best to plan to get it done in a sin­gle work­day.

In­stalling your own top is very doable — just be cer­tain you have every­thing you need for the job. Take your time, have an ex­tra pair of hands avail­able, and set aside a day with no in­ter­rup­tions.

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