If you have been following along with Project IntroVert you know that our project car started as a 1988 Mustang GT Convertible that really needs just about everything that breaks on a Mustang of this age. Overall the car is solid, it drives well and runs strong for a stock 5.0L/5-speed combo and we have had some 4th of July fun with it (watch the video here - 4th of July Joyride). We have been documenting some of the restoration that we have done on it because we are trying to learn about 1983-93 Fox Mustang convertibles and pass that knowledge on to you. The biggest challenge we noticed right away on this Stang is that the top frame was shot and needed a new frame, which in turn, means that it needs a new convertible top, rear window, pads, weatherstrip, etc. Check out our frame removal article here – Mustang Convertible Top Frame Removal. Here is what the donor Mustang looked like and a picture of the top frame removed.
Install Ourselves or Take it somewhere?
Now, we have done a convertible top here ourselves before on a super clean 1984 Mustang GT and it turned out nice. We really wanted to do a complete top install on this car to show you the ins and outs of the work involved in replacing a convertible top, but we offer a complete install DVD (Mustang Convertible Top Installation DVD) that is done by a professional upholstery shop and we figure that since they have done hundreds of these, it's best to leave it to the professionals!
The two the main questions we get on convertible tops are "Can I replace the top myself" and "How much does it normally cost to get a convertible top replaced if I take it somewhere?" We know that it is a bit of work to replace a convertible top and it can be done by consumers like yourselves, but we thought we would go with the other angle. Since most people are going to take their Mustang somewhere to get a top installed we thought we would share our experience with you.
What to look for in an upholstery shop:
The first thing you want to do when searching for an upholstery shop, is to do your homework. Call around and get quotes for the best pricing or if its a higher price what kind of warranty is offered. Other factors to consider are what hours they are open for when you drop your car off or pick it up and how long the installation is it going to take. Don't forget about location; choose someplace close and in a decent neighborhood if you are worried about something happening to your car. We chose to take our Project IntroVert to Ed's Glass and Trim, here in Waco, Texas. They have been around for a long time and do great work for a fair price. We dropped Project IntoVert off on a hot sunny afternoon and listened to the owner say he used to have one just like it only it was burgundy and he had put a burgundy top on it to match, ha ha. We explained that we had replaced the original broken top frame with another frame from a donor car and there may need to be a few adjustments needed. Since they were replacing the new convertible top onto another top frame, the weatherstripping was trashed and needed to be replaced so that the top could be adjusted correctly. To our surprise, the trim shop was happy to do that for us also! We let them replace the header and top side weatherstrips along with new "hockey sticks"(upper well molding trim) and the seals that went under them.
The finished product:
After we dropped the car off, the third day we were called and informed that the car was ready. A sign of resurrection, perhaps, on a car that its original owner shunned and decided that it wasn't worth keeping around. The finished product? Well, we are still a ways off on finishing it, but the new convertible top looks great and works like a charm. Some new window guide bushings were needed on the passenger side window, but that is for another blog. As for now, we are happy to have a good working top and maybe another fun video for Halloween.
So here is a list of the parts we used to restore our Fox Body Mustang Convertible back to is original glory!
*Now, it needs to be noted that your Mustang may not need the same parts that ours needed so your total may vary. You would probably only need the Mustang convertible top kit which includes, top, glass window, pads and well liner.
LABOR FOR FOR INSTALLATION OF NEW TOP AND TRIM--$725.00**
** This is what our trim shop charged us for the top install, adjusting the frame, and installing all of the afore mentioned parts. This is regular retail price and not a "buddy deal", but labor prices in your city may be different. We are just stating our totals to give you an idea of costs for reference. If you are only installing a new top and window the cost would be cheaper.
Convertible Top Maintenance:
Keep your top up when not in use! Many people think that, "hey, it’s a convertible so I can just leave the top down all of the time!" This is not the case. The top needs to stretch going up and coming down. The convertible top in it's up position is being stretched across the frame making a tight seal all the way around. If the top is down constantly to the point where it is stored with the top down or goes several days in the down position, you may look cool, but when you do have to "raise the roof" you may put too much stress on a top that has been used to being folded, or in the down position, and you could tear your top. Another bit of maintenance is to keep it clean. The convertible top is fabric and is susceptible to dirt, mold and tree sap which can drastically shorten the life of any convertible top. Keep your new or existing top clean with a top cleaner that has a good reputation. We recommend the convertible top cleaner from Ragg-Top as it works great and is economical.
The Final Word:
We feel that these prices are in line with what our budget is for this car and regardless of if we do anything else to this project car, it needed a top in a bad way! People want a convertible so that the top can be put down on a sunny day and can be raised back up when the weather is less than favorable. So now as summer is winding down and the temperature is getting cooler we can at least drive it around a little bit before old man winter arrives. We will continue to do a little more to Project IntroVert in bite size increments and keep you posted on the progress as we do it. I hope you enjoy following us on this journey as much as we enjoy the Mustang life! What a job!