Now that I'm on the road, the next add on is a soft top. I'm undeceided on the traditional or the new premium one. I'd like to look at them in person if possible, does anyone in the Palm Beach County area have one that they'd be willing to let me take a peek at? Any other input is also welcome.
Yes to both. One of my questions is driving with the top on without side curtains, heard warnings that you're only good to 50 mph and things like that. Looking to take some trips and the unpredictable weather in Florida makes the thought of a top comforting.
Hi John, I'm probably the guy who gave the warning about driving with a soft top and no side curtains. My car is a MK1 with the original soft top. When I installed the top I got it pretty tight all around. The first time I tried it with no side curtains, the top started to flap, or buffet as other people call it, starting about 50 MPH. It scared the crap out of me when I saw how much the windshield was moving with the buffeting. With the side curtains in there is no buffeting at all, even at fairly hi speeds (70-80 MPH). What does happen is the top acts like the dihedral on an airplane wing. It balloons out and puts a steady pressure on the windshield, like most convertibles. The other funny thing is, that I can slide the windows open for ventilation, and have no problems with buffeting.
I have a friend that has a Superformance, and he had a soft top installed on his car. He has the same problem without side curtains,so I would guess that it is just the nature of the beast.
I have owned several Triumph TR-4's and then a '68 TR-250 that I drove for 15 years. I have driven these cars on many road trips including several cross country trips. I eventually put a TR-6 top onto the TR-250 and it had a zip out back window which would help eliminate the buffeting. I also was able to unsnap the drivers side quarter section of the top just behind the drivers head and fold it back into the car. I was like opening a rear side window and completely eliminated the buffeting. Possibly could be done on the Whitby top but not the newer FFR top.
I have the new premium top from FFR made by Rod Tops. I had them modify my top with quarter window for better viewing and asked for a zip out rear window but they said they could not do that. The thread below documents my premium FFR top and working with Rod Tops.
I read your thread, the folks at Rod Tops seem like great people to work with.
Are you able to drive yours without the side windows? The "flexing windscreen" issues that I've read have me a little concerned. I have a/c, but the photos that I've seen suggest that it could get a little claustrophobic in there, so I was hoping to limit their use to heavy rain.
I'm not on the road yet so don't have any experience with this top.
Yes, Chad at Rod Top is very helpful and easy to work with.
The 'claustrophobic' feeling will be individual. I've been driving Ford trucks for longer than I ever drove my MG's and Triumph's so it will probably be a bit of time to get used to it again but I am so looking forward to it.
I have ideas of making my own side curtains similar to my MGA or original Cobra style, with sliding windows, to go along with the new FFR top. I've got to get the car on the road first though.
Just my thoughts and not experience with the new FFR top. It is made of a material called Stayfast which is a very good top material and combined with the framing will keep the top in a much more steady state. The way the top is secured onto the car it puts some pressure onto the windshield and thus I think it will keep it in a more secure state. I have read from others, that have this top, that there is little or none of the top getting buffeted. Good solid design.
For those of you thinking this top is expensive, I still have a set of new side curtains from my MGA and they alone are selling now for $1395 for a set of two. They have a steel frame covered with the Stayfast material.
Thanks to George taking the initiative, I had my Premium top modifed by Rod Tops after the fact to also include a back window.
I've been extremely happy with my top. There's no flutter with the top at highway speed either with or without the side curtains. The top does a good job of keeping the water out but sadly the rest of my car leaks like a sieve. I use mine primarly for cold weather driving.
When it's cold, I'll leave the passenger side curtain in place and unzip the drivers side curtain up but not forward . This allows me to flip the side curtain up while it's still attached to the top. This makes it easy to get in and out of the car without removing the side curtain. Once in, I simply zip it back down, attach a couple of velco strips and I'm good to go. The entire process takes all of 10 seconds. If I am going to be on the highway, there's an additional leather strip that need to be attached from the back of the side curatin to the rear mounting point for the top. That's hard to reach with Kirkey seats.
Shortly after Rod Tops finished the top, the weather turned nice. This is the only picture of the modified top on the car that shows the back window:
As stated on the FFR side, I had the opportunity to see the Whitby top at the Charlotte Auto Fair this spring. I was not aware FFR had stopped selling this top. It was on a customers car with several miles on it. The owner used the top frequently and was pleased with it.
I was very impressed by it, had a nice vintage look with the snaps and all, nice canvas, and side curtains.
I did not know enough to ask about driving at speed or with the side curtains out. But I bet Jeff at Whitby could answer most of your questions. Give him a call.
Thanks all, especially shark, that's the type of feedback I was hoping for. Good to know the new top is tight without the sides. I'm anticipating using the top for sun protection as well as rain, and being able to use it without the sides is important. Not drilling a bunch of holes in the body is a bonus as well.
I have a MK 1.5 with a Rod Top I put on a couple years ago. They are constructed very well and easy to take down and put on. Everything stores well in the trunk. If you need some pictures I'll be glad to get you whatever you might need. I haven't really noticed any problems driving down the highway.
Thought I'd post an update. I pulled the trigger and ordered the premium top. Took a couple hours to install, some of that was me taking a long, deep breath before taking a drill to the body. As reported, high quality components. The only problem I had was the need to clean out some of the holes to the ball snap connectors would seat correctly. Sorry for the poor cell phone photos in the garage. Road test tomorrow
The way the premium top works is that the framing pushes against the windshield through to the rear deck behind the roll bars. Thus even if air pushes from inside, buffeting, the fabric is held stiffly in place. In addition, it is thicker top material and is held in place to the cross braces with long strips of Velcro wraps.
I'm pleased to report a successful road test this morning. 70 on the interstate without the side curtains in (can't use the d/s yet as the header snaps are in backwards, will have to call Rod Tops on Monday) but no problem, no ballooning or flutter. Life is good. Sunny and in the mid 80's all weekend here, so off it comes.
THe top looks awesome. Now, I have a question or three for you. I watched the video on the FFR website. Taking it off and putting it on looks a bit... cumbersome. I want to put one on my wife's MK4 but i know if its more than a 3 piece puzzle, she wont want to mess with it. Especially if it takes more that 3 or 4 minutes to put on. Also, does the wood header stay on the windshield, or is it easy to install/remove? oh, and is your car a MK4?
Mine is a mk4. The components are high quality, but there is an assembly process. I haven't put it on or off much, my guess is less than 10 (with practice) to put it up, a little less to take down. That's with one person, two would cut that by not have to go from side to side repeatedly. Nothing in the process is difficult, and everything fits well.
The only thing that stays on the car is the mounting sleeves on the body and the snaps on the windscreen sidebars. Everything else is in very nice storage bags that fit in the trunk, with a little room to spare.
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