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spyhunter2k

Convertible Top Comprehensive Replacement Information

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spyhunter2k

The Cutlass Supreme convertible top is a standard two-piece design. According to convertibletopguys.com:

 

“Almost all Ford, GM and Chrysler convertible tops install as two separate units. They are the main top and the rear window section. This is the original design since the thirties and the design is fundamentally unchanged until much later…The rear window section is often called the ‘curtain.’â€

 

The original top on Cutlass Supreme convertibles was double texture pinpoint vinyl. When replacing the top, though, you have several options when it comes to materials (the following material explanations are excerpted in large part from 1aauto.com with some notes added and irrelevant material removed):

 

Single Texture Pinpoint vinyl: This is the most common replacement material used for Cutlass Supreme convertibles. This is a good, durable vinyl that matches the grain of many original tops from the 40's to the 80's. This material weighs 36 ounces per square yard. The outside is a pinpoint vinyl while the inside is lined with cloth. Less expensive convertibles have been known to use this material. MOST aftermarket top seller's tout single texture vinyl as "the material the original OEM manufacturer used," when in fact most used double texture. To the untrained eye and hand it looks and may feel the same, but most cars that had a pinpoint vinyl top, built from the 40's to the 90's, used the double texture vinyl (Listed next). Although not the same, Single Texture Vinyl is still a good and commonly used replacement. It looks and feels nearly identical, will last almost as long, and for many restored vehicles that are garaged and covered, a single texture top could last 20 years or more if cared for properly.

 

Double Texture Pinpoint vinyl (sometimes called Euro vinyl): 80% of Muscle cars and 40's - early 90's convertibles used double texture vinyl as the OEM material. The outside is a pinpoint vinyl while the inside is lined with cloth. Double texture vinyl weighs 38 ounces per square yard. The texture is a pinpoint texture nearly identical to single texture pinpoint vinyl. Double texture pinpoint costs a little more than the single texture pinpoint, however it is a more durable top and will last a few years longer.

 

Single Texture Sailcloth vinyl: Many 90's convertibles such as Sebrings and Mustangs started using Sailcloth vinyl in place of pinpoint vinyl due to the fantastic texture. Standard interior color is black, gray interior cloth is available with some colors at an extra cost. The weight of Sailcloth vinyl is 36 ounces per square yard. Sailcloth vinyl material has a woven texture that resembles a "richer" cloth top. Color choices in Sailcloth vinyl are more limited than those in pinpoint vinyl.

 

Stayfast Cloth: Stayfast is a tightly woven cloth canvas. The yarn is solution dyed BEFORE it is woven, creating a uniform color throughout. Domestic made or converted vehicles that came with a cloth top most likely used Stayfast cloth. Stayfast holds strong in both extremely hot and cold climates. Due to its richer look, Stayfast tops are more expensive. Stayfast color choices are limited and white is unavailable. Cutlass owners who want to give their car a more upscale appearance (and do not need or want a white top) have upgraded to a Stayfast top, and are almost universally pleased with its improved appearance/texture as compared to the original-style vinyl tops.

 

When replacing the top, the window is almost always replaced as well. It is generally not recommended that you attempt to detach your existing glass window and try to re-use it.

 

According to 1aauto.com:

 

“Glass windows are bonded or heat sealed in to the vinyl or cloth surrounding them. It is very difficult to install just the glass in to a vinyl curtain and it will cost you about as much to have this done as it is for a brand new window and curtain. If your window and the attached fabric are in good condition, you can re-use them, but the vinyl may not match the new top.â€

 

It is possible to replace the top with one containing a plastic window, but this is not recommended, as plastic windows looks cheap, are very flimsy, and scratch easily. Please allow the Cutlass ‘vert to retain its dignity by using a glass-windowed top, and leave the plastic windows to the Geo and Cavalier ‘verts. When selecting a glass window with your new top, you will have the option of choosing one with or without a defroster.

 

The headliner is usually re-used if still in acceptable condition. Same with the top pads and cables, though there is some difference of advice here. Some websites recommend new pads and side cables with every new top, and new rear cables with every other top, while other sites and installers say that the side cables and pads only need to be replaced when their condition warrants it. It’s up to you.

 

Most convertible manuals indicate that the complete top install takes about 10 hours, 7 for the main top piece, and 3 for the “curtain†(the secondary piece that holds the window). Labor costs can range from $400 to $1000, depending on the installer’s hourly rate. Some shops may allow you to buy the top and bring it to them, but be aware that some will inflate their labor a bit to compensate for the lost profit from selling you the top through them, and also may not warranty the installation, since they can’t verify the quality of a top brought to them by a customer. This means that you would have to make sure it looked right before leaving the shop.

 

Convertibletopguys.com give some excellent advice:

 

“If you decide to "hire out" the job:

 

* Go to your yellow pages. Look under "automobile seat covers, upholstery and tops." Select a couple of shops and visit or call them. You want to determine that is their policy to provide installation service on tops that are not purchased from the shop.

 

* Many shops are dealers themselves and represent a top manufacturer and will not want to sacrifice this re-sale aspect of their profit. Be wary of any shop that disparages a product that it does not carry. Although it is true that quality can vary, no company should use "scare tactics" to get your business.â€

 

While it is highly recommended that you have the top installed by a professional, it is possible, with patience and the correct tools, to install the top yourself. Be aware that it will likely take an inexperienced installer several times longer than a professional. Convertibletopguys.com sells a universal two-piece top manual, and it is also possible to acquire an original GM instructional video for the Cutlass ‘Vert top that several have said was a real help when installing the top themselves.

 

If you will be buying a top to take to an installer, or will be attempting the install yourself, you will need to decide where to get a top from. Here are just a few sources (that also represent a range of the brands available) that sell Cutlass ‘vert tops:

 

Topsonline.com—They have the best prices found to this point, though their selection is a bit limited (for example, they don't offer sailcloth texture option). The tops they sell for the Cutlass 'Verts are EZ-on, the most widely sold brand. Their quality is considered to be good.

 

Convertibletopguys.com—They sell tops as part of a kit that includes side cables and pads. Their tops are Kee Tops, supposedly a pretty premium brand (though one installer I contacted said that “they think a lot of their tops [because of the higher price] but I’ve never noticed that they were any better than EZ-onâ€). This site is well-known for their knowledge and customer service. Several have commented that they were pleased with their transaction. Kee tops are also sold on sears.com’s website here: http://auto.sears.com/Oldsmobile-Cutlass-Convertible-Tops/600025340-200743174-1994-10623.htm.

 

1aauto.com—Their tops are made by Acme Headliner, and are supposed to be pretty good quality. These tops, at present (3/09) are the ones most commonly seen on Ebay.

 

EZsofttops.com—They also carry EZ-on tops. Their prices are higher than topsonline.com, but they have a wider selection, offering sailcloth tops in various colors, including the “Brite White†that is the correct color white color for Cutlass ‘verts.

 

JC Whitney—They have historically carried Electron tops. Some sources say that this is the economy brand of convertible tops, though one installer I contacted did actually say they were is favorite because of how easy they are to install. Electron tops are also available through Electrontop.com and topsdown.com.

 

Robbins Tops—arguably the highest end brand, they only sell the main top piece, not the curtain. Their tops are sold through regional distributors.

 

Wherever you buy your top from, make sure it comes with a 5-year warranty. This is pretty much standard. If they don’t offer this, their tops are probably of lesser quality than average.

 

Cylinders and pumps are still available from a few sources. One is http://www.hydroe.com/Oldsmobile_Cutlass.html.

 

If anyone can think of anything else that is needed, let me know and I’ll modify this thread.

 

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kaptnjack

I have a Brite White 93 raggy, it had a new top on it when I got it but it doesnt really match up as nice as I would like. I have learned that most companies or at least some...offer two GM white tops. If you are installing on a white car be sure you order the GM Brite White Model...the standard white looks dirty and yellow all the time on my white 93.

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DavidHowell3633

I can't locate the info, but some of the best advice was to replace those pot metal heim joints on the rams. It's only a matter of time before they break. I located some on ebay and they were shipped to my house for less than $10.

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jackhartjr

I ordered the top from Convertible Top guys. The one sent was a Kee top and looks GREAT!

One bit of advice, go ahead and spend the bucks for the glass curtain, everyone I talked to said I would not be happy with the plastic window, a couple of washings will turn in yellow.

Jack

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ruffin

Help me !! i had a top installed for EZ the top has a long tab with what looks like a screw hold to hold down the bottom edge near the quarter window. but i cannot figure out where to attache -- can some one help?

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ruffin

My top looks good but i cannot figure out where to attache the bottom front edge tab - so the top at the sides have wrinkles -- do you know where to attache the tab?

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amistydj

I had the top on my old 95 replaced by a shop few yrs ago, they did a great job although they forgot to hook up the rear window defogger wires and some bolts on the frame were not tightened enough

I bought my top from topsonline.com and it came with a detailed installation manual for the top

 

 

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xennith

Hey all,

Has anyone had their top replaced recently?  I'm having a hard time finding the sailcloth in white so I'm wondering if the pinpoint is the only way to go these days.  If that's the case how happy have you all been with the Kee vs. EZ on as it looks like those are just about the only ones I'm finding. Or have I missed a source? 

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Human

Interesting to read these comments. I took my '95 vert to a trim shop earlier this week because all of the staples are pulling out at the rear. He informed me that he does not re-staple tops that have pulled out like mine because the vinyl has shrunk and it won't stay put for very long. He said he's had too many negative experiences with customers who have unrealistic expectations of such stop-gap measures and as far as he's concerned, the only proper way to fix a top like that is to replace it at a cost of between $1,400 and $1,500. I thanked him for taking the time to share his knowledge and expertise and we left it at that. I haven't decided what I'm going to do since the top is intact other than that but I'm thinking I'll just let it go for at least this season and maybe replace it this coming winter at the earliest. In the meantime, I'll likely gather a couple more opinions. I didn't get the feeling he was trying to fast-talk me or anything like that. He was just speaking the truth as he saw it and I can respect that.

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rich_e777

$1400-$1500 isnt an unreasonable quote so long as the shop was going to use a better material, I wanted to upgrade to canvas and some places wanted $2200 before I acquired my own parts. Last time I sought out a quote for just labor it was anywhere from $800-$1200. 

There was a post in another Vert thread where they mentioned using a band of metal and small screws over where you would normal use just staples, I`ll look around for that post as that seemed like good advice. Ive not messed around to much with mine so I dont have much 1st hand know how just yet.

 

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Human

Yes, I didn't think his price was unreasonable at all. I'm just not ready to do it quite yet. Interestingly, he had another Cutlass convertible in his yard, a '93 or '94 model, light blue with white top and interior. It's only the second one of those cars I've seen around here since I've owned mine. He said it was in for a new top but the top was in better shape than mine. 

I remember the post from the guy who put a metal band over the tack strip. He was going to post photos but he was in Michigan and the car was in Botswana, just about as far away as you can get and still be on the same planet. The last time I checked, he had not yet posted photos.

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