Convertible top install doable?

I have been getting prices of almost $2000 for convertible top and installation. I was wondering if anybody installed their own top and how difficult it is to do a really good job?

A really good job would include adjusting the frame and the window glas in the doors, wouldn‘t it? It may seem like lot of money, but not if he knows what he‘s talking about and has seen your specific car that needs all the work done. I certainly would ask the professional how often he has done the top on an E. All things considered that could need adjustment and the time it takes to that, your quote is not too far off. I have a very scruffy driver, my attempt to fit the top didn‘t go well. It will need to be redone - with a new top.

Hi, I saw my conv top get installed my a professional friend…unless you are experienced don`t do it.
There was a lot of fiddling with the doors and eliminating wrinkles.

It is NOT difficult! It takes time, and patience to get it right, but ANYONE can do it, with enough thought. Take the time to fully understand HOW the hood fits. Spend a LOT of time adjusting and tweaking the hood frame to get everything exactly where it SHOULD be. Make VERY sure whatever hood you get fits correctly BEFORE you put in the first staple, make the first cut, or apply any glue. If it doesn’t fit right, either correct the frame, and/or get another hood. Once the frame it right, and the hood is right installation is straight-forward, though takes a good 8 hours to do properly. The most important part is making sure you get it positioned correctly when doing the first attachment points. Get that wrong, and everything that follows will be a disaster. Find the center-line of both the hood and the body, and mark both (the center of the hood is usually marked front and back with small notches cut in the fabric. Determine the fore/aft position by looking at how the fabric needs to wrap around the front header, the window openings, and top frame bows. Measure six times, test fit six times, attach once.

All depends on your skills level and budget. My hood had been replaced previously in the mid 1980s and was not a good fit at the front. I entrusted it to an experienced trim company and was very pleased I did. They stripped everything back, got the frame to fit perfectly and then did a superb job of the hood (which was made from scratch for my car)

I did my own and didn’t find anything really tricky along the way. Unfortunately I did not have the benefit of Ray’s advice…

… but I just installed the top that topsonline sent me - and found it was not quite wide enough.

Still serviceable and looks okay, I’m not convinced the ‘pro’ I got an eye-watering estimate from would have done much better.

The reason I installed the top on my friends car is he had a “professional” install a new one for him. It cost a fortune, and was a complete disaster! The fit was horrendous! We removed it a week later, and installed a new one ourselves. At least he got his money back on the installation, but still had to pay for the top we scrapped after only a week on his car.

1 Like

This thread reminds me of my first do-it-yourself top on a 1956 VW bug. A $100 J. C. Whitney special. Pretty much matched the flattened Bud can/ Bondo filler work I preformed on it. Not to mention the 6 can spray paint job. But hey, I bought the car for 50 bucks.
Move forward to 1978. Fitting a new Robbins top on my 1970 Karmann Ghia, @$700. Three layers of material, a week of fit and swear, but a beautiful top when finished.
How hard is an E-type top? Maybe somewhat, but do a Ghia top first and compare notes.

I did it myself and did an exceptionally good job. It simply takes time, lots of time and measuring thrice (or more) and cutting once. It isn’t just the top. You’ll get the best results if you take the time to perfect the frame and cantrail fitment first. Replace all rotten wood, and refinish the header bow. Get the glass sealing right. Then set about making the top great. It probably took me 40 hours.

Can the frame be adjusted with the top in place? The previous owner installed a new top and I believe assembled the frame (since it was painted silver instead of the OEM gray) but it doesn’t fit well - hard to latch, misaligned on the left side so the seals don’t fit into the door vertical trim, and the tp[ windscreen weatherstrip seal doesn’t touch the windscreen, so there’s a big gap for water to leak in.

I don’t think I can bring myself to remove or even toss the fabric top if that’s what it takes to adjust the frame…


I found a shop to do it for $$790. They are experienced at putting convertible tops on and say that they have done an EType before. I decided to go for it since it seems like attempting to do it I may screw it up and be frustrated as can be. After all the money I put into it another $800 seems like a spit in the ocean. And anyway I can’t yell at myself if I screw it up.

I’ve done my own twice in 45 years. The first time was to replace a replacement top that was vandalized by raccoons(?), and then a few years ago to install a beautiful cloth top I picked up on Ebay for under a hundred bucks. I did it over a winter and spent a ton of time fiddling. In the end, it looks great.
Patience is the key.

You can adjust some things, like moving the cantrail sections around. It’s more difficult because there isn’t room to swing a wench with the canvas on but it’s doable. Some things can’t really be changed like shimming the B posts because the height is fixed by the canvas tension.

Not even a really really small wench?

1 Like

The first time I did it was with a little baby 3" adjustable. Since the canvas flexes I could get a little swing and do it in “single flat at a time” jaguar fashion. I just had much better results the second time I did it when the canvas was off.

Ok, enough is enough. Swinging a small wench in the car is bad enough, but now we’re swinging a baby in there too. Call CPS…


Soiled am I, change me you must


Erica- you must have WAYYYYYYY too much time to surf Amazon :rofl:

1 Like

I got my Robbins top from Topsonline. I installed it myself. I feel it turned out quite nice. I have seen professional installations that are both better and worse. My only minor complaint is it seems the creases after being folded do not come out too quickly.