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New Convertible Top

Posted by Bob in Everett 
February 19, 2012 11:46AM
Took the plunge and got a new top on the 1989 cabrio. I was asked about choices for materials and so forth and chose the more expensive material that is supposed to be the same as the original top. I noticed when I picked it up from the shop that there were a few differences in construction...the rear window is installed differently but the main thing I noticed is that there were no stays across between the bows. In the original top these stays have a metal rod stitched into a fabric sleeve that is stitched to the top all the way across between the tension straps. On the way home I noticed it seemed to be noisy, more so than normal. On the weekend I drove it around a little to investigate. The top seems to flutter continuously at speeds over 40-45 mph and more the faster. Even just closing the doors with the windows up causes a drum roll like noise inside the car. With the old top, this did not happen.

The stays were a point of stress on the old top that when it was folded the material wanted to buckle so that the stitches had a lot of stress and were torn out for about an inch or so on each end of each stay. Also the fold of the material beyond the end of the stay was flexed more than anywhere else and had made a hole in the fabric. I think that with better care in folding the top this would not happen but this car was owned by a school teacher who paid little attention to that kind of detail. When she showed me how to fold the top, she just crammed it down and pressed the cover on it till it latched.

My point of this disussion is to ask if anyone else has had a top replaced and had the stays in a non-BMW installation. I am of the opinion that the new top is defective if it does not have the proper noise abatement features that the original had.

Bob in Everett
February 19, 2012 11:04PM
I probably won't be any help here Bob but I was wondering how living with a cabrio is like; Janet and I are thinking about buying one. I had an Alfa spyder in the 70's but I wonder if that's a car I can live with these days being loud and cold. I know we'll love it in the summer with the top down (especially in the evenings) but how bout the winter.... this car has to be a daily driver as well confused smiley

I'd like to think Bmw's would have a sturdy top set-up and wouldn't be too drafty and loud. There's a 1999 328 cabrio 5sp (E36) not too far away we are thinking about. I keep on thinking closed cars are better for us right now but I also remember how nice my Alfa was...

Cheers, Rick
February 20, 2012 07:30PM
I just saw a removable hardtop for an e-36 for sale locally. It was the boston green color but could be repainted to match your convertible. I use my cabrio year round but winter and road trips are much nicer with the hard top. The BMW original top is a lot quieter than the aftermarket one but I am working with the installer to see what can be done to get the drumming stopped.

One thing I would recommend is the wind screen that sets over the back seat and blocks the wind from coming from the rear and blowing down your neck. The cars with a back seat probably all have this characteristic.

I love my cabrio and hope to drive it until I cannot drive any more.

Bob in Everett
February 22, 2012 06:12AM
Can't help you with anything cause I never had a cabrio myself, but I would love to see some pictures of yours.
April 07, 2012 02:33PM
Had another talk with the top shop owner and showed him the original BMW top construction on my old top has several areas that have doubled and tripple layer material in heavy stress areas. The replacement top does not have these double thickness reinforcements. Probably makes some difference on noise but for sure will make a difference with the durability.

Bob in Everett
open | download - 1990 rear view.jpg (141.5 KB)
April 09, 2012 11:39AM
Looks good!
Is the third brake light mandatory and standard equipment in your region?
I like much better the clean boot lid, but that's a minor detail.
April 09, 2012 09:15PM
the third brake light is mandatory. Just one more way our socialist government has decided to keep us safe...as if that was not our own responsibility.

Bob in Everett
June 15, 2012 11:56PM
Have had a couple of trips on the freeway with the new top now. The thicker material attenuates the road noise a lot and it does not flutter in the wind either . I like it. It folds nicely too.
Got the car out of the paint shop today with the repair for the garage damage I inflicted by dropping a card table on the left fender. Also had "John the Dent Guy" come give it a once over for all the door dings it had. He did a marvelous job. Now I need to get the other one the same treatment so it is more fun to wax than to be rubbing the dents. Also had the trim that is on the ends of the bumpers painted to match the car. The look very nice and shiney. Just have to be careful not to chip the paint as I put them back on. May have to remove the front bumper to get the front ones on. They were difficult to get off as access to the screws is behind the bumper.

Bob in Everett
July 11, 2012 01:36AM
sounds like a bad top Bob.drum roll sound sounds familiar but that's livable. excessive noise is not. and i think the metal rods going across is standard, or should be. mine is still relatively new but haven't used in in a long time. my hard top:mmbeer:is still on and i need to take it off before the summer is over! but i need to concentrate on some other nagging issued like my surging idle (sick of it):cry:
July 11, 2012 10:32PM
probably just a vacuum leak. Check for leaks and then the idle control valve check.

Bob in Everett
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