The main reason our soft tops are lower in price thank the original is that we don’t place the same mark-up on our product like car makers spare parts department does. The OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) mark-up generally justified given the car makers is the only place you can buy that soft top, that is unless you know about our great range. It should also be noted that the original car makers like BWM or Mazda do not actually produce their own tops, the manufacture of these tops is outsourced to a Tier 1 supplier. The manufactures we use are also Tier 1 suppliers for some products, therefore they employ quality control and good manufacturing practices just like the OEMs do.
Our tops are made in the USA, Germany, and the UK to exacting standards by the biggest and the best in the industry. These manufacturers employ ISO quality control systems and use CNC cutting technologies to ensure the pieces that are sewn together result in an exacting fit.
If purchasing a new soft top, you will receive the outer vinyl or canvas assembly and in most some cases a new window unless stated otherwise. Frame components and seals are not included unless specified in the description. Often a small bag of rivets and or components are included if required for the installation process.
Our soft tops are designed to stand up to the Australian climate however many factors will influence the life span of a soft top. If cared for correctly a new soft top should last in excess of 10 years.
Some of these factors that could vary this life expectancy include:
- Sun exposure – Intense UV light accelerates the degradation of materials, in particular flexible PVC windows.
- Frequency of use – The more you put the top up and down the more wear occurs within the fabric, this is amplified if the top is not kept clean.
- Temperature that the top is folded up and down – The colder the weather we more the fatigue will be on flexible components.
- Environment – If you keep your car in the garage your top will last longer. Note: A top should never be stored folded down for prolonged periods.
Like many things, the better they have been cared for, the longer they will last. See our section on Soft Top Care guide and product to get the most out of your soft top, new or old.
The answer is it depends… Generally speaking, we do not recommend installation by anyone other than a qualified motor trimmer or mechanic. If however, you have a broad experience in disassembling and resembling parts of cars, you may well be capable of successfully executing the work required. Be warned though, fitting a soft top is not for the novice handyman, it requires a lot of time, knowledge, and patience. Some fitting tips are available and included with many of our tops but these are far from a step-by-step guide and may not be sufficient for the first time installer. If in doubt, give us a call.
If you fit your new soft top yourself it will not void the warranty, provided you have not installed it incorrectly.
To install a soft top you will require a standard set of tools ranging from sockets, spanners, and screwdrivers required for the disassembly and reassembly of your vehicle. Many tops also require a rivet gun, high strength contact adhesive and for older cars a staple gun. Furthermore, a temperature-controlled heat gun and steamers may also be required to help alleviate any creases and wrinkles from the top once fitted.
The rear quarter panels and boot should also always be covered to prevent any accidental damage to the paint and panels. The last thing to note is, fitting a vinyl soft top or soft top with a vinyl window should be avoided in temperatures below 18 degrees Celsius.
There are additional components that can perish as a soft top ages. These include bow straps, quarter pads, tension cables, headliners, and more. Please note that these vary from car to car. We stock many of these parts so be sure to replace these when changing the soft top as they are difficult to replace after a top has been fitted to the vehicle.
Note, in some cases, we require that bow straps to be replaced on some vehicles to avoid voiding warranty, this is mentioned in the product description and instruction and includes the Honda S2000 and the Nissan 350Z. Both these soft tops come with straps included as part of the kit. The BMW E30 and E36 also benefit greatly from new tension straps.
“Soft top only” refers to the outer front section of the soft top, less the rear glass or plastic window. This implies that the window is sold separately or that the factory item is to be reused.
For many soft tops, we offer the window as a separate item that can be purchased independently to the soft top. If the top you have is a one-piece design, in other words, the window cannot be removed without cutting the top then unfortunately a new soft top will be required to remedy the perished or broken window.
Keeping the your new top clean and protected is key to maintaining a new looking top all year round. Please see our section on Soft Top Care.
A plastic window can last many years and still look like new if cared for in the correctly. Keeping the window clean is an important part of maintaining its glossy transparent condition. As the window folds down the centre creases, quite often on many convertibles it ends up folded back on itself when laying flat in the rear storage position. If the plastic is covered in dust or dirt this dust can work as an abrasive and with the vibration of the vehicle can result in the marring of the outer surface of the plastic. This in turn results in an opaque and worn appearance.
To preventing creasing there are two simple things you can do. Firstly if you lower the soft top in cold weather the plastic is a little stiffer and may not fold correctly down the centre. Keep an eye out for this and if a clean single fold does not occur stop the roof midway and smooth out and creases by hand then continue to lower the roof down. The second fold a towel and lay it down to cover the lower half of the plastic window (at the fold point as the roof is lowered). This will prevent rubbing and the fold in the plastic being as sharp, helping maintaining the condition of the window.
A Curtain is another term for a plastic window and refers to the removable rear transparent section of a soft top.
A headliner is the fabric cover that is visible from the inside of the vehicle. Its function is to insulate and reduce noise whilst covering all the straps, bows and mechanisms of a convertible roof. Note: not all vehicles have headliners and the headliner is sold separately to the soft top in most cases.
A bow strap connects between the bows in the roof. Bows are the horizontal bars that run left to right to make up the skeleton or frame of the roof. Some straps are elastic and perform an important function in the smooth and reliable operation on the roof assembly.