convertible top longevity

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Staff member
Dec 14, 2002
New Jersey

Anyone care to comment on how long their convertible tops have lasted???

My understanding is that with proper care, a convertible (cloth) top will bead water, but if a convertible is to be used as a daily driver, incluidng in the winter, will the top life be severely reduced?

I know most folks who have verts keep them in the garage, and use them for what they are best at - the nice months... but what if you were going to use it as a "real" car, four seasons, parked outside, etc... Is that asking for trouble?

I assume that vert tops are designed to look/act like new for the duration of a warranty or extended warranty... say, 5-6 years outside, in typical conditions... is that the case? Can one expect 10, 20 years out of a top if used in the winter, left outside, but cared for???

Any insight would be most appreciated.
My experience with tops equivalent to BMW 1 series quality is based on roughly 12 saab 900 convertibles (3 ply) and one boxster S (3 ply) varying in age from 6-14 years. Assumes every day use, no garage, and intermittent waterproofing at much less than recommended intervals (i.e. typical owner).

At roughly 6 years a picky owner sees the first signs of deterioration. Usually black tops are starting to show oxidization and appear somewhat faded compared to new. Wear spots start to be noticeable only as different color than rest of top. Sort of like the "nap" in carpet when it is rubbed one way or the other.

At 8 years the average person would notice small "nick marks" and the "nap" look where the hinges or other parts press/rub against the top when it's closed or opening/closing. Also seams of back windows and/or side weatherstripping noticeable deterioration (not leaking probably and not shot, but noticeable). At this age the owner probably would consider replacing the top, but not leaking yet.

At roughly 12 years, holes may develop and could be leaking, weatherstripping issues/leaking and overall top is fragile.

Assuming the owner sprayed entire top with protectant every 6 months, I think this could be extended much longer. UV is the number one enemy. Just a guess but I would say 10 years for average owner (not sprayed every 6 months) before it looked like it should be replaced, or 14 years for well-cared for. Climates with more heat/UV would shorten life.

Does not include 1 vw ([censored] vinyl), 2 jeep cjs, 1 samarai, 1 tracker, and 2 chrsyler [censored]-o-ramas convertibles, none of which are comparable to BMW.
I have 2004 Honda S2000 for 5.5 years, the car is garaged at night and parked under-covered parking at work, the top is still like new. If you own or thinking to buy one, you should use 303 at least once every 6 months, then the top can lasted more than 10 years.
garaged at night and parked under covered parking is a great way to probably extend life indefinitely... Ihave no such luxury. 303, raggtopp and whatever else would be a definite regimen.

Thanks for the info!
My jeep tops probably don't count. Too much manual handling. We got 7+ years out of the wife's, and it was removed for the winter. We had it restitched at a shoe repair place where some of the threads frayed. The top started losing material integrity a little over a year ago and was replaced. The "sail cloth" top on my 02 was much heavier ..but looks like it had some manufacturing defects in the Velcro bonding process. Otherwise, the fabric itself appears fine @ 7+ year round off:eek:n usage.
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