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Folding Tops

Subject: Folding Tops
From: Scott Fisher <>
Date: Sat, 01 May 1999 23:00:14 -0700
Eric Erickson says:

>  I stop further down the road to make sure it is
> sitting down neatly behind the seats... but that is purely a cosmetic
> thing).

Er, not entirely, at least not eventually.  Folding the top correctly is
key to the longevity of the vinyl and in particular of the rear window;
it's best if you can put a towel on the top so that when you roll the
rear window forward, the towel keeps the clear plastic from scratching
on the rest of the top.

It's always best to remember that the folding tops on British sports
cars aren't really amenities, nor even are they weather protection: they
are exercises in moral virtue, not unlike the Japanese tea ceremony in
their subtlety.  In both cases, the object is not merely to get the
thing done, but to follow all the prescribed steps in the traditional
sequence as a kind of purification ritual.

Seriously... leaving all those lift-the-dot connectors fastened will
hasten the appearance of tears in the corners of the top, because it
stretches and gets folded in ways that weren't intended.  The correct
way to fold the top is:

1.  While inside the car, undo the clips at the windscreen and the snaps
just above the vent windows, then undo the snaps at the rear corners of
the side windows.

2.  Exit the car and undo all the Lift-the-Dot fasteners on the driver's
side, then the passenger's side.  The breaking of at least one
fingernail, while compulsory, may be accomplished on any of the
fasteners and on either side of the car.

3.  Lift the rear edge of the window out of the chrome clips in front of
the rear deck, then slide the rear edge of the top to the back as you
fold the top frame back.  Be careful not to pinch or scissor the vinyl
in the folding frame mechanism as it retracts.  When finished, the top
should be folded flat on the rear deck lid, its leading edge just below
the trim piece that goes around the rear of the passenger's compartment.

4.  Carefully fold the corners with the rear 3/4 windows inward.  If you
have a towel to place over the clear plastic, this is the time to do
it.  Now bring the whole top forward (rolling the towel up the way a
sushi chef rolls the rice inside a wrapper of seaweed) and bring it in
as snugly as possible against the top frame.

5.  There should be a pair of vinyl straps, with snaps, that you can now
use to keep the rolled-up top looking shipshape and Bristol fashion --
somewhat literally, as I always thought the rolled top looked like a
furled sail.  (Singing "We Sail The Ocean Blue" from "HMS Pinafore" at
this point, while recommended, is optional.)  It should look so good you
almost don't want to bother with the half-tonneau, but if you do put it
in place, you'll notice how smooth and tailored it looks with the top
stowed properly out of the way.

I got to the point where I could complete this procedure in only two or
three minutes, though it took longer to put the top up.  Part of that,
of course, is that I only put the top up when it was cold enough that
the vinyl was stiff and shrunken, and it took forever (and usually three
broken nails at least) to get all the fasteners to do their thing. 
Which is why I finally just took out the three big screws that held the
top frame to the body, left the whole thing in the garage where it
belonged, and kept a waterproof jacket, a car cover, and a couple of
towels in the trunk.  

 --Scott Fisher
   Sunnyvale, CA

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