Lotus Elan

Drophead Hood (Convertible Top) Vendor Choice

PostPost by: 1owner69Elan » Mon Nov 14, 2016 12:08 am

I unfurled my convertible top from under the rear cover and found a rather wrinkled top with discolored plastic windows. Not surprising in that it hadn't been opened for at least 15 years. Top is actually in overall good condition except for the windows.

Considering replacing the top(hood) even though I won't be using it much - fair weather driving primarily (I am in California). Probably replace with an Everflex version with new tenax fittings. I am noticing quite a range of prices from the various suppliers (Matty, RD Ent, Miller, Kelsport, ...). These are all done in Everflex but does anyone have an opinion on relative quality from the different vendors or are all of these products essentially the same? Perhaps a difference between US and UK vendors? Are there some quality issues to help justify the higher prices for some?

Also, related to this issue, should I attempt to install this myself or have it done by a professional? I normally do most of the work on my car so have some level of skill but have never attempted this. I am also thinking maybe of making the top completely removable instead of permanently fixed along the back and then crammed into the cover when not in use - rather hard on the top - especially the windows.
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PostPost by: fatboyoz » Mon Nov 14, 2016 2:15 am

Hi There,
Robbins convertible tops in the U.S. lists both top and top boot (quarter tonneau) for your 69' S4. http://www.robbinsautotopco.com/lotus.php
Cheers,
Colin.




1owner69Elan wrote:I unfurled my convertible top from under the rear cover and found a rather wrinkled top with discolored plastic windows. Not surprising in that it hadn't been opened for at least 15 years. Top is actually in overall good condition except for the windows.

Considering replacing the top(hood) even though I won't be using it much - fair weather driving primarily (I am in California). Probably replace with an Everflex version with new tenax fittings. I am noticing quite a range of prices from the various suppliers (Matty, RD Ent, Miller, Kelsport, ...). These are all done in Everflex but does anyone have an opinion on relative quality from the different vendors or are all of these products essentially the same? Perhaps a difference between US and UK vendors? Are there some quality issues to help justify the higher prices for some?

Also, related to this issue, should I attempt to install this myself or have it done by a professional? I normally do most of the work on my car so have some level of skill but have never attempted this. I am also thinking maybe of making the top completely removable instead of permanently fixed along the back and then crammed into the cover when not in use - rather hard on the top - especially the windows.
'68 S4 DHC
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PostPost by: ericbushby » Mon Nov 14, 2016 9:52 am

One thing worth checking is the shape of the rear window.
I have seen some with the bottom of the window welded in straight across, whereas the one I bought from Sue had a curved bottom edge to the window to follow the body line. The tooling for a curved edge costs more than straight and it is more complicated to make up the cover.
They may all be curved by now and the dealers may buy them in from the same manufacturer, but it is worth asking.
Eric in Burnley
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PostPost by: gjz30075 » Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:06 am

I got mine from Sue Miller, as it was closest to OEM looking, with the curved window. I had a professional
install mine. One wrongly punched hole and its time to look for another top. :cry:
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PostPost by: 1owner69Elan » Mon Nov 14, 2016 9:01 pm

Thanks to this forum once again.

I hadn't realized the issue of the curvature of the window on the bottom. To me the curved window looks much better than the straight version.

Turns out the US-made ones (Robbins) and those from Kelvedon show a straight edge. That from Matty shows curvature and, as reported by the forum, the one from Sue Miller is also curved.

I have a replacement top that is probably 30 years old, probably supplied by Robbins - as they go that far back, that has the straight edge.

But I am definitely going to opt for the proper curved edge version - much better looking and presumably more original (but I really don't remember). Apparently only available from the UK.
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PostPost by: pharriso » Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:37 pm

Just to illustrate this issue, here ias an original hood with "curver" lower edge (actually parellel to trunk lid):
log36_princetonnj-08-06-2016-017.jpg and
Ted Taylor's 0297K


& my car with the "straight" edge:
limerock50th_2013_09_01_049.jpg and

I have to say I prefer the curved design myself... Another job for the list...
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PostPost by: jimj » Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:49 pm

Yes, I bought a Sue Miller one complete with new Tenax fasteners and Instructions intending to have it professionally fitted. Reading the instructions, and buying a cheap set of punches from ebay, I gave it a go myself. A little care and it was easy to do a perfect job, and very reasonably priced.
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PostPost by: RogerFrench » Tue Nov 15, 2016 4:24 am

I was able to find a local company who replaced the yellowed windows for 200 dollars or so. The wrinkles disapoeared once I erected the top and left it in the sun for half an hour.
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PostPost by: 1owner69Elan » Wed Nov 16, 2016 12:13 am

I contacted Sue Miller. She does indeed provide the curved window version in Everflex (and mohair if you want it - nice but not original),

She noted that the top front does not have the sewn in metal strips that fold into the windscreen frame. Instead she says a plastic piece is used. Those that have a Miller hood, does this arrangement work well? Is the plastic piece loose (easy to get separated from the hood itself).

Looking at the Paul Matty site, which shows a curved window version and perhaps is from the same supplier as Sue uses, the front edge doesn't look particularly "clean". Looks uneven compared to the metal strip arrangement on my old hood.
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PostPost by: fatboyoz » Wed Nov 16, 2016 9:51 am

Hi Again,
Another company worth considering. Their rear window is also curved.
http://www.donhoods.com/
Cheers,
Colin.
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PostPost by: jimj » Wed Nov 16, 2016 9:56 am

lotus-chassis-f36/soft-top-installation-help-t37578.html

7th post down shows the plastic strip which works perfectly.
Jim
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PostPost by: Spyder fan » Wed Nov 16, 2016 4:37 pm

I have a Miller hood in Mohair with the plastic strip connection to the screen. Very good quality and the screen connection strip is a superior design to the original metal insert strips, it even has a scallop/cut out to clear the screen brace rod.

As Jim says, fitting is very straightforward, just take your time and follow the instructions.
Kindest regards

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