One of the things we love most about living in San Diego is the temperate climate, which demands a convertible. The awesomeness of cruising around with the top down is priceless, and we picked up a great deal on a '98 Cabrio.
Like most used cars, it had a couple signs of use - the worst sign of wear was the top. As vinyl tops age, they shrink and become brittle; rips and holes are accelerated by putting the top down. Most owners just stop using them to avoid taking on the cost of replacing a top. Seriously, it should be a crime to drive a convertible with the top up in San Diego. :-)
The estimates we got for replacing the top ran from $900 to $1500. I'll show you how to replace your top for . . .
(Prices may vary for your model.) The actual cost was $259, but you'll also want to get canvas cleaner and have to pay for shipping and tax.
With a single weekend's work and patience, our Cabrio (AKA Mirthmobile) now sports a new top.
This project requires employs sharp instruments and power tools, requires a familiarity with working with automotive tools, and a **really** positive can-do attitude that will get you out of trouble when you encounter problems. If you don't possess all of these, pay the $1500 or more to replace your top.
The top you will order comes with full instructions, but this instructable is presented to inspire you. YOU CAN DO THIS! :-)
Materials needed for this instructable
- 1 replacement top for your model of vehicle. Do some searching online - the best deal and selection we found was here:
Convertible Top Guys
Kit will include the top, pop rivets, staples, new hold-down cables, and glue you need to do the job.
- (If you have a glass window with rubber trim) Tube or strip of windshield sealer (not included in kit)
- One sunny weekend without rain (Not a tall order in San Diego)
- Silicone spray for trim re-installation
Tools needed for this instructable:
- Basic automotive tools (open/box end wrenches, screwdrivers, hammers, etc.)
- rubber mallet
- drill and 1/8" bits
- Pop rivet gun
- Screw gun and fine Phillips tips OR torx tips - there are LOTS of screws in this project, don't try it with manual screwdrivers. Torx screws are special "star" shaped counter sunk head screws, similar to Phillips but straight-sided and deeper. See if your model uses them and have a set on hand (the Cabrio uses these.)
- Staple gun - preferably a pneumatic staple gun (you might be able to rent one) but we managed our project with a standard staple gun and gentle tapping
- Center punch
- Utility knife
- At least a 6-8 foot length of 1/8" - 3/16" nylon rope
- flat plastic tool
- Helper (second person) for the window and trim stick in and out
- Mechanical ability