Convertible Top Installation Guides

Published by Naseem Muaddi on November 9th, 2011

Installing convertible tops should always be left to professional auto trimmers. But sometimes even the pros can use some help. Unlike mechanic shops, we can’t reference Chilton repair manuals for tips and advice, but if you look hard enough you may just find what you’re looking for.

A good place to start is AOK Sales, LLC  – which sells vehicle-specific DVDs with detailed ragtop installation instructions. While their selection isn’t vast, they do cover the most common cars. Check out their site and view their sample footage to see for yourself.

However, chances are you’ll only need installation tips for less common vehicles. In which case, contact Hydo-E-Letric. They stock convertible-top manuals for most cars from 1955 and on. Need tips on installing a ‘59 Caddy ragtop? They can help.

If you need help with a new top that you can’t find a DVD or manual for, try calling the company you bought the top from. The folks at Electron Top, for example, have experience in installing all the tops they sell and are always willing to teach you over the phone.

If you still find yourself at a dead end, check out The Hog Ring‘s “Auto Upholstery Forum” – where you can ask other auto trimmers for tips and advice. You’ll be surprised by how many people are actually willing to help.

Otherwise, take advantage of search engines. The internet is vast and offers loads of helpful advice. Take, for instance, the following video I found on YouTube. It’s part one of a 10-part series on how to install a convertible top on a Mercedes-Benz 500sl.

12 Responses

  1. stitcher_guy stitcher_guy says:

    A lot of the E-Z On tops that are sent out have color-photoed how-to instructions. They are pretty detailed and do help.

    I caught Electron one time. I was putting the top on a 1959 Buick Parklane, with the wraparound vinyl rear curtain. I had a couple small winkles in the back corners and called them for help. They hadn’t had one of those in, and asked for pics once I was finished. Finally got it, just took a lot of heat.

  2. WOW – Thank you soooooo much for convertible top info– I had someone bring me a SL500 convertible – taken apart already… they could not figure out how to put the top on.. Was stump on some stuff and where it went.. like the Velcro on the sides .. then to find out oh by the way he calls back — I do have a hydrolic leak in the rear drivers qrt under the car! needless to say the top does not work correctly . Also the customer took stuff apart that did not need to be. This was a life saver.

    • Thanks for joining The Hog Ring! I’m glad we were able to help Sueann.

      Don’t you hate when customers bring you projects they gave up on after taking it apart? It makes the job so much harder than it has to be.

  3. RETIRED… This is how my dad and I did them in the 1980’s through the 1990’s unless there has been a better way of doing them . we pwould always protect the car with blankets or shipping quilts the hood and the trunk which is some cases is a good place for laying parts youve taken off the car.Make sure the top works well and if theres any restoration to the frame do it after taking off the old top such as paining or lubrication or any other rust prevention, again protect the car with tape an masking paper. Measure,write it down, Then Measure it again. If you still have the old top on the car Im talking the Back bow on the old top of the car, from the edge of the cars back glass where the top meets the back of the car. If theres not a top on the car, You may have to find one in your area or call the manufacture of the new top to get this measurement. Once you have these mesurements your pretty much set. Its a good Idea to measure from the fron of the old top to the back bow also, write it down and measure it again and write it down.
    Bolt the back of your new top with the metal hold down rsils which if you have them are just metal shaped into the curve of the body whith holes for bolts which anchor the back of the top with screws under the drip rail leave them loose, bring the top up in top up position and measure your back bow from the edge of the car to the bow it should be the same as the old.. If the bow is in the correct position staple to the bow after finding the center of the top onto the center of the bow. Stretch the top to the front of the car and with the top in the latched position pull the top forward and it helps if the top has been warmed with a heat gun or the sunshine and it helps to have some one else to mark with chalk onto the top where the edge of the frame is onto the top, do this all the way across the front of the car pull and mark the edge. The reason for this marking and it want be a straight line is when you go to glue the front of the top into position the top will be particially in the down position about 1/2 way. you will be standing in the front floorboard to do this and the top will be in a half way down position. Glue the top to the ubderside of the cars top frame after finding the center here also. Most tops are the same in regards to instalation except for the scissor tops. Some of the smaller autos like miatas Ive seen installers take off the frame and top to install. this is just a sample of the instruction need you have to run cables through the sides of the new top and a coat hanger with a hook bent into the end works well here. The round rubber will have to be sewn with a sewing machine this will be your seal on the front of the top. There should be a strip to staple to make sure the strip is in good condition before starting. last but not least is make sure the top is in the up position and look for wrinkles in the top if there are stretch top from side to side which ever way it needs to go next tight the back bolts that you left loose earler now you can yuse these instruction at your own risk i want be held responseable for any thing my memory has left out or added to this entry.

  4. Eric 's Auto Upholstery says:

    Great Topic! I enjoy installing convertible tops. I’ve been installing tops for 25+ years. You can never know too much. I really liked the post from Edward. Sounds like we install tops just about the same way. This is a awesome site to share upholstery & trim info.
    Thanks Eric

  5. tadcockerill says:

    2013 Camaro top, really struggling here.
    I do a lot of tops….. This took 7 hours to strip!!!!

    • mark Zito says:

      Doing one right now, forever to uninstall, the chevy dealer shows taking entire top off of car chassis and laying on a bench installing up side down. not an option. im trying to get the string ties just right. so far no real solution. but i do share your pain. if you ever do a 2016 and 1/2 it only takes 2.5 hours from start to
      finish. big change in design.

  6. Glenn harris says:

    Help for 2006 mustang gt convertible top replacement.

  7. mickeymcrat says:

    I need bow height and other specs on a 32 Packard detrich V windshield roadster. I restored one in the 80’s and lost all my notes. any help would be appreatated . mike

  8. Ron Beier says:

    Just got a Jag Project 7, no instructions on how to put top or take down except @ the dlr. Was shown how at the dlr but need detailed printed instructions (Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, Step 4, etc.) so I don’t screw it up. Not a 1 man job if your a senior citizen as I am. Need Help & Thanks. Ron

  9. Would like to know if you have instruction videos for removing and installations of convertible tops on Pontiac sunfires

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