TOPPING OFF A ’70 CUDA
INSTALLING A NEW CONVERTIBLE TOP ISN’T AS DIFFICULT AS YOU MIGHT IMAGINE ONCE YOU PLAN FOR SOME REPOSITIONING.
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.