Convertible Top Repair Information For Your Imperial

 


Imperial Homepage -> Repair -> Body -> Convertible Top


Question from Mike (caring for tops):

My top was recently replaced, but I live in constant fear of it cracking, fading, and just plain looking nasty. One fellow mentioned that Armor All has a lot of silicone in it. I assume this is bad? Anyone tell me why? And what are the preferred methods of caring for sun-exposed vinyl? Obviously you want to keep it clean (soap and water) but what can you spray/rub onto it to protect it?

Replies:

From Mark:

Lexol (the stuff you use on leather) is a also available for vinyl. I've had good luck with it, but then again, my vinyl top normally stays in the garage and I may not be the best source for a sun-exposed top. Armor All looks good, gives a nice shine, etc., but I hear there's something in it (might be the silicone, might be something else..) that over time will actually dry the vinyl out.

As for your 45's / 33's I would recommend neither. My records, including my "Little Anthony & the Imperials" LP (does that qualify for IMP content?) prefer a 50/50 mix of water to rubbing alcohol, which cleans them gently and thoroughly.

From Mark M.:

I think we discussed using Armor All several years ago and so some of this may be old news to many, but . . 

Here's the latest story I've heard about it. This comes from a guy who does detailing at a local dealership. He claims that Armor All will ruin your top or your dash for the following reason: it coats the surface of the top or the dash with silicon molecules, which are round (according to him - I've never seen one close up) and act like millions of tiny little magnifying glasses on your top. In other words, they concentrate the light and the heat and actually accelerate the expansion & contraction that goes on when a car is out in the sun and then in the dark, etc. This expansion & contraction causes it crack faster.

I think this sounds plausible, but . . . expansion & contraction of vinyl is going to occur regardless of whether or not you have silicon (or silicone?) on it. I don't really see how that can "accelerate" the cracking. And I would rather have something on it that had some sort of UV blocker in it than nothing.

Second, I remember, from YEARS ago, when these products first came out, that they did an awful lot of testing. I can't imagine that they didn't discover this problem when they created this product, some 30 years ago . . . (I think it's been that long) . . . or maybe they're just scamming us?

I don't use Armor All, but I use other vinyl protectants. Right now I'm using Meguiars. I will tell you in 15 years or so how it works.


Question from Hugh:

How are the roofs of Imperials from '57 to '68 made. Single ply, or "quilted?" Multi-layered?

Reply from Philippe:

Before I restored my car, I had the original dark green top and it was a 2 layers affair: green exterior layer and black interior layer. The new (which came from Gary Goers) is the same and I agree with Hugh, there is a lot of noise at high speeds: At 70 mph (or more) it's difficult to hear the radio or talk with somebody without raising your voice.


Question from Lance (1957):

Who makes the best convertible top for a '57 Imperial?

 

Replies:

From Mark:

I've always put on Crown Tops on my convertibles. My brother tells me that they were OEM for Chrysler in 50's and 60's. I'm trying to remember who I ordered it from. Either Year One or Legendary Auto Interiors.

Anyway, the top for the Polara came with the correct glass rear window and the Valiant I had came with the correct weight plastic rear window. The seams are welded and the whole thing went on in a very straight-forward manner.

If you're not planning to do it yourself, most trim shops have access to Crown Tops. Kind of appropriate for an Imperial.

From Jim:

I bought 2 tops from Hydroelectric in the colonial grain.  The rear glass window is a little smaller than original but that is all they had.  It was for a '68 Imperial.  My '68 300 was correct and I was satisfied with their customer service, delivery and quality.  I do not know if they have correct tops for older Imperials.


Question from Henry (1960):

Anybody know what was the "correct" color for top wells in '60. I am planning on a white top, white pearlescent interior and a white well, but thinking now that the top will be black on the passenger side, so maybe the well should be.

I did a white well on my '61 and it looks good to me as the interior is white. Maybe I should re=think that??

Replies:

From John:

Its been a while since I've seen any '60 convertables, but I've seen several '61's that were original & the well was the same color as the interior.

From Mark:

I think the key is to go to a Color & Trim Selector for that year and see what the book says if you want it to be correct. I know I have seen convertibles with light colored wells, so it may be that different years had different colors for the well liner-- or that people changed the original color when they restored the car.

I think I might put a black liner in if it were mine, not because I'd be afraid of drawing attention to it, but because it creates less glare on the rear glass. On my '68, which has a black top and a black well liner, sometimes the wind blows the liner up a bit and even the black liner causes a bit of glare in the back glass when the sun is at a certain angle. It's not bad, but I can imagine a white liner would be very reflective. However, it's your car, so do what pleases you.

Of course, if you just keep the top down you won't have to worry about the color of the liner!


Question from Brooks (1963):

As some of you may recall, I'm restoring a '63 Crown convertible that was totally disassembled when I got possession and took over. Along the way, someone had painted it black, but it was originally the "Claret Red". The trim code indicates that it had a black interior. OK, so it was originally red car, black interior.

What color do you suppose the top was? It has shards of white top fabric still embedded in the top header, but I don't know if
(a) it was once black but the pieces have bleached out to white over the years
(b) someone replaced the original top, and this is shards of the replacement top, which I suppose could have been either black or white
(c) or some other color of top, if they even make them in other colors
(d) this is shards of the original top, which was originally white.

The paint code on the car shows "TT1". According to Cars & Parts Magazine's Catalog of American Car ID Numbers 1960-69", "A three-digit code indicates the top and bottom colors respectively. A number follows which designates two-tone, sports-tone, convertible top, etc." (This section of the book is not limited to Imperials, by the way - it is Chryslers as well. So if it were, say, a 300, it might have a 2-tone paint job. But I believe all Imperials will have the first 2 letters the same).

Well.......... what *COLOR* convertible top???? I can't find anything that indicates that.

I am under the impression that the original top was either white or black. I could be wrong here..... anyone wanna correct me?

So..... what if I take it back to factory specs?

Replies:

From Joe:

I don't know about the 1963 for certain, but the article in the "Mopar Muscle" magazine for this month about the '57 - '59 Imperials says, "Crown convertible top colors consisted of black, ivory, blue (with blue interiors only), and green (with green interiors only)." The article does go on to say that two-tone combinations were available.

You weren't asking for an opinion, but that never stopped me from offering one before: In Texas, I'd go with the white unless there is some "authentication" reason not to. Black top with black interior (no matter how good the a/c is) makes for some warm motoring in this area.

From Paul:

I'd go with the white convertible top. That is probably what it had new, although as you say it could have been black, but if black is too hot, white would be nicer. There are red convertible tops, but to me, that is almost like having "red wall" tires.

Its your car. Make it the way YOU want it.

From David:

My '63 which is the original Madison grey mettalic colour had a white top and top well, the well being white leather which has survived to this day although my topis now black. Electron tops will supply you with what you need and they are excellent.


Question from Steve (1963):

Do we have anyone on the list that has been inside a top pump? I am working on one that hadnít been moved in a number of years and was all gummed up. I have it running and pumping but it will not build pressure. With the top cylinders unhooked the motor will very slowly run them up and down. Pitch of the motor does not change when the cylinders reach the end of their travel. With the cylinders attached the pump runs but the top barely moves and will not lower on its own. Iím looking for advice on what could be wrong with the pump or a source for a replacement pump that wont break the piggy bank right here at Christmas shopping time.

Replies:

From Stevan:

Steve it sounds like the same problem my 63 imp has. I did take my pump apart once to clean it up but that didn't seem to fix it then.

From Bill:

I have had two Imperial Convertibles, one a '60, and my current one, a '66. When I bought the '60 it was a beautiful mess, meaning it looked good, but had no transmission, brakes (literally, no brakes on the car, parts I mean!), and to the point, the top had to be made to work again. As I recall, it needed a new pump, and I was concerned about originality, but it turns out, power top pumps are a universal part. All the auto makers used pretty much the same pump. A brand spanking new one was very cheap as I recall. Try your local parts house, and even more specific, try a upholstery/convertible shop. If that fails, try Rich's Custom Upholstery in Seattle. He does this all day long. Even found the original material for my '63 Custom I had at the same time as the '60.

From Greg:

Try contacting Hydro-E-Lectric in Punta Gorda, FL. There number is (800) 343-4261. They have a variety of kits to rebuild your pump. They also have technical reps. you may speak with who may be able to tell you what is wrong with your pump and how to repair it. There is no charge for this service. I would imagine they would have a new pump to replace yours should that be necessary. They helped me a great deal with the pump on my '66 Eldorado and now it operates perfectly. Give them a call and see if they aren't able to help you with your pump problem.

From Bob:

I use Hydro-e-lectric, 5475 Williamsburg Drive Unit #8, Punta Gorda, FL 33982, (800) 343-4261

There are other sources -- they are all about the same price and I have had good service from Hydro.


Question from Ed (1964):

I recently bought a '64 convertible that sat outdoors and needs a lot of work. (Window motors, bad chrome, worn top, rust... long list!) I've been through a lot of the mechanical issues in the past few years with my Coupe, but can anyone answer a few convertible-specific questions?

1. The top won't go down; motor sounds good but nothing happens. It appears that a cable on the driver's side is broken. Is there anything I can do myself to determine why the top won't work?

2. If I can't repair it myself, how much of the mechanism is "Imperial only?" Can the top motor, hoses and cables be located/replaced easily? How much does it cost to replace the worn top, should I go ahead and have all the mechanical work done at the same time? Chris Hawkins recommended a KEE top, but does anyone know where to purchase them?

3. How do I remove the rear seatback and/or fabric that holds the folded top? I want to get into the trunk, and the trunk lock is broken. I removed the bolts from the base of the rear seatback, but it still seems to be attached somewhere at the top. Any suggestions?

Replies:

From Steve:

1. The top won't go down; motor sounds good but nothing happens. It appears that a cable on the driver's side is broken. Is there anything I can do myself to determine why the top won't work?

The systems were filled with brake fluid. Chances are it has either leaked from a failed seal or turned in to a cryastline jelly that is very hard to get out of everything. Pull the back seat out first and check the fluid level in the pump. Their is a screw plug in the end of the tank. Originally the system used brake fluid but the rebuilt stuff now says to use ATF.

2. If I can't repair it myself, how much of the mechanism is "Imperial only?" Can the top motor, hoses and cables be located/replaced easily? How much does it cost to replace the worn top, should I go ahead and have all the mechanical work done at the same time? Chris Hawkins recommended a KEE top, but does anyone know where to purchase them?

I don't believe anything on the hydraulics is Imperial only. Recently had to redo a '63 and all the parts are off the shelf from Hydro-E-Lectric http://www.hydroe.com/ Be aware that the seals in the ends of the pistons have a bad habit of breaking and the old hoses get brittle. I haven't had to buy a new top so can't offer any advice on that one.

3. How do I remove the rear seatback and/or fabric that holds the folded top? I want to get into the trunk, and the trunk lock is broken. I removed the bolts from the base of the rear seatback, but it still seems to be attached somewhere at the top. Any suggestions?

If you remove the bottom of the seat and then the two bolts holding the back you should be able to wrestle it out of there. It has to come up then out.

From Wayne:

The top mechanism is hydraulic and it may leak and be out of fluid, so the pump may be running, with nothing happening. Most likely one of the hoses is leaking, or else the hydraulic cylinder that actually lifts the top mechanism. The cable holds the top tight around the windows, but actually has nothing to do with the top going up and down.

The actual hydraulic pump itself is standard, and any of the vendors in Hemmings should be able to help you. I think one is named "Hydro-electric". The pump is located under the rear seat.

Also in Hemmings, you will generally see an ad for convertible tops, with the name of "Sydney" and a phone number. This is where I bought my top. It has the correct grain and I am happy with it.

The seat back "hooks" into the forward front of the top well. If you lift the seatback straight up, it should come free. (If you need a new top well liner, Gary Goers has an exact pattern that he made from my car).


Question from Robert (1964):

I have a little problem with our 1964 crown convertible. Both of the support arms for the top have broken at the bottom. I'm a little surprised at this since it is a low mileage very nice original car. These arms are a rather complicated looking casting that other parts of the top mechanism attach to. There is a right and left one that are above the rear window area that support the rest of the top. They pivot at the bottom on a pin or bar. Right now the top is up, but cannot be put down without the arms coming loose from the bar or pin they ride on.

Has anyone had experience repairing or replacing something like this? Does anyone know if a replacement part is available? This is a very nice car that deserves to be back on the road again.

Replies:

From Bill:

I had a support bar snap on my '66 Imperial once when I was putting the top down (It snapped from the pressure due to the achor on one of the floor supports being broken). Both the floor support, and the bar itself (which could not be found, and did no need to be it turned out)I had welded back into place. The floor support you cannot see, and the bar on the top frame you can not see unless you are looking for it as they are painted black.

From Chris:

Here's a link: http://www.convertibleparts.com/catalog.htm looks like a good source for convertible parts.


Question from Greg (1965):

Does anyone know where I can view a sample of the correct convertible top material for my '65 Crown? I noticed on the '67 site, there is a sample of the Seville grain material for the vinyl tops. Is there such a sample for the '65 convertibles. I've been told these tops were grained and not the standard pinpoint type on GM and Ford cars. Is this correct? Also what were the color choices for these tops in '65.

Replies:

From Mark:

Someone else will probably give you another idea, but if you can find a "Color & Trim Selector" for '65 it will be the best source. These are on ebay occasionally. They're big books Chrysler sold to the dealerships for customers to use in picking out colors for paint and interiors. They have small samples of the actual material used, usually in good shape, and you can take that to your shop to have them match it up. Or, someone here can tell you the name of the grain that was used in '65 (I'm not that familiar with that year) and you can order it based on that. I enjoy having the book, though!

From Gene:

According to the 1965 Imperial Order Code List the following colors and codes for convertible tops are: 580 Formal Black 581 Mist Blue 582 Persian White 583 Sierra Sand Let me know the base color of the car and I will tell you what the choices are for the color per the order sheet. I am not sure what the original texture was. The top that I used for replacement is the grained.

From Kerry:

Mark Harris from New Orleans has a new vinyl top on his '65 in the correct vinyl. The top made an amazing improvement to a very nice car. Every time I see Mark's car he has improved it.

From Wayne:

The "name" for the leather grain on the convertible tops is called "Colonial Grain". I believe the color choices for 1966 were: White, Black, and Blue. These were probably the choices for 1965 as well. You may wish to invest in an original dealer color and trim selection book. These books were originally used by dealers to help customers select color and trim options. These books contain actual leather, vinyl, cloth, and paint chips for your year. Vendors that carry automotive literature, sometimes have these books. I paid $50 for my book on the 1966 Imperial models. You might also check out a Year One catelogue. Although they do not carry Imperial tops, they may show the grain pattern, as it was used in other Chrysler products of the same vintage. I bought my conv top from an ad in Hemmings. The ad was listed in the Chrysler, and also Imperial parts section. The ad advertized Imperial Convertible tops, with the name Sydney and a phone number. The top I purchased had the correct grain.

From Jeff:

I received my colonial grain tops for '68 300 and '68 Imperial at Hydro-Electric. Both white with glass rear windows. They have good service and competitive prices.

Question from Rob (1965):

I'm ready for a replacement convertible top for my '65 Imperial. I want to go with the original style top. The top it has now, has been replaced 15yrs.ago with the wrong color underside. It is now black, but it was originally white to match the folding top frame. I want to know if anyone has a source for finding the correct top (white outside/ white inside) and the correct grain...what is it originally a leather-look or pinpoint grain?

Reply from Greg:

I ordered the grained top for my '65 Crown convertible from Crown Auto Top Mfg. Co. Actually the trim shop I work with here in Mobile, AL showed me samples and after I selected the one I wanted (Sierra Sand), the shop owner picked up the phone and placed the order. I do not know if they sell to the public or just to trim shops. Maybe someone else on the list could answer that. When the top was ordered, Crown was located in Columbus, Ohio. My top underside is sort of a tan/beige color. The grain pattern is sort of like elephant hide minus any hair. It is really an unusual grain pattern.

I am interested in your comment about the folding top frame on your '65 being white. Do you or anyone on the list know if the frames were "color coordinated" to blend with or match the underside of the soft top material? My frame was black when I bought the car so I assumed the original top was black. But as I stated in an earlier post, I painted the frame Cummins Beige to better blend with the underside of the Sierra Sand top I ordered. If all the frames were not black, what colors did they come in?

Reply from Ted:

The folding frame on my '65 convert is also white in color. The original top was also white, although when I replaced it the first time the padding (underside) came only in black.


Question from Dan (1965):

My 2 1966 convertibles, 'Brandy' and 'Cinderella' need some TLC ( and lots of work!). I am hoping to put new tops on them this summer but wondered if anyone out there has had experience as to the best (considering price & quality) place to buy the tops from and also if this is something I should try myself. I have one of the books previously mentioned by one of our members (Restoring your Classis Car) and it seems that I can do the top replacement by just taking my time ...also, having a second convertible here will probably help me tremendously! Any suggestions for new tops (I am in New Jersey) would be appreciated. I also may need parts (hydraulic, etc) for the tops once I get into the project (Murphy's Law just loves these types of projects!) so any suggestions for best places to get them would, again, be appreciated especially from anyone who has gone thru this.

Reply from Jeff:

Several years ago I purchased the best top available from J C Whitney and my brother and I installed it ourselves in about 4-5 hours. It really went quite smoothly and I am proud to say it still looks good today after 7 or 8 years it still looks good. It might not be a perfect job but we did it for relatively little money. It came with generic instructions enough for us to get by. I would probably do it again but it is not for everyone. I am sure we could have messed up and ruined the top if we had not been careful. Overall though I would consider doing it yourself! Not too bad a job and lots of satisfaction from saying I did it myself!


Question from Greg (1967):

Does anyone know the best way to "recharge" the hydraulics for the power top? I know that there are two hydraulic jacks on either side of the car, behind the rear seat panels under each leading edge of the folded down top, but mine is too weak to put the top back up. The motor sounds fine, so must just need more fluid. Was it transmission fluid or power steering fluid?

Reply from Ray:

First you want to lower the top. There should be some sort of access panel behind the rear seat. Sometimes this is made of plastic, and it's really brittle so be careful when removing it. This will give you access to the pump. Next you need a long screwdriver, slotted to remove the plug in the cylinder pump. Then you want to add fluid to it.

Fluid it Dexron 3 ATF fluid. You also need some sort of oil squirt can with a long tip on it. Get the biggest can you can fit back there as it helps eliminate having to refill the thing all the time. Then you fill the pump similar to how you fill a differential, add fluid until its at the level of the bottom of the hole. Some may leak out so have a rag handy. Then run the pump for a few cycles to purge the air from the system, and add fluid as necessary.


Question from Alan (1968):

Anyone know of and recommend any type of treatment for my convertible top on my '68 Imperial? Something that will increase the life and make the top look spiffier or should I just leave well enough alone?

Replies:

From Mark:

I bought a product called "Convertible Top Cleaner" at Pep Boys. I think it's made by Blue Magic (Blue Coral). It does an okay job-- although I don't know if it's any better than any other cleaner you would use.

From Keith:

I use Starbrite RV Awning Cleaner when my black top gets a bit grungy. A medium size stiff bristle brush helps to get the hard-case spots out of it. I have also been told to use waterproofing that goes on tents and other related items.


Question from Kerry (1968):

Does the convertible top for the '68 Imperial have the rear glass window? I have a new top but the glass is not available and I'd really like to have a glass window.

Replies:

From Mark:

I don't understand why you couldn't get a glass shop to cut you a piece of glass to fit-- it's a flat piece. However, the last time I talked to someone about this they made a comment about the top & the glass being "laminated" together and that comment sparked a small debate on the IML . . .

Anyway, my point is, check with your local glass shop. I will check with mine for you as well. This guy said there were replacement windows available for my car (but he may have been overly optimistic or just trying to sell me a new top).

From Bill:

Though it has been several years ago, I purchased a new top for a 1968 convertible that has the tempered glass rear window from the "Kanter Company". You can find their Ads in Hemmings.


Question from Mark (1968):

I was talking to a guy who does vinyl tops for cars, and we were discussing the possibility of me getting a new top on my '68 Crown convertible. He told me the rear window would have to be replaced, otherwise it would "delaminate."

Thinking he thought it was plastic, I explained to him that it was glass. (And it's in perfect condition.) He said it didn't matter; it would still have to be replaced because the way they made them the vinyl is attached to the glass in such a way that when you remove the vinyl you either damage something or it won't be strong enough-- I'm not quite sure what his reason was, but the point is he would have to use new glass.

I find this hard to believe. First of all, glass is not a laminate, like say, Formica. Is it? I have to wonder now. So I don't see how it can "delaminate" if it's not of laminated construction. Second, it appears to me that the glass simply sews into place. Third, I have a perfect rear window, and it's original. I don't see the point in chucking it out.

Anybody know the facts?

Replies:

From Demetrios:

I don't have any experience with Imperial converts, but I do have a '76 Caddy Eldorado convertible. The rear glass on my Eldorado is actually glued to the top with some kind of super strength adhesive. I wonder if your top man is commenting that it'll be impossible to "unglue" the glass from the old apron, then properly reattach to the new top? After smashing the rear glass with a folding chair that shifted positions in the trunk, I examined this subject VERY carefully... could I perhaps just glue a piece of lexan in place of the old window? Could I find an old rear window in a junk yard and glue it in place?

After much careful consideration I decided that it wasn't possible (for me) to do a quality replacement job on my own. After investigating further I discovered that my rear glass actually lives on a separate apron that's attached to the main glass via a zipper at the top, and riveted to the rear glass support links on each side. The point being that the top could be replaced, and the old glass/apron assembly could be reused if replacing the top. This of course meant that I could replace just the apron and glass without having to replace the entire top assy.

Again, please note that I was working with a Caddy. Imperials are certainly somewhat different in design, but the basic concept may be similar.

From Wayne:

Safety glass used in autos, is laminated, layers of plastic and glass.

From Bob:

The rear window and support assembly is called a "curtain". It is possible, as Demetrios noted, to replace the top without the rear window being disturbed although there might be a slight difference in color between the new top and old curtain.

Sounds to me like the fellow is trying to make some extra money. Don't replace the rear window curtain unless it is torn or worn out.

From Darrell:

I believe that the back window in the 68 Crown Convertible was a type of plexiglass. I had one new as a Company Car. It was Turquoise with a white top and white leather interior. It was a looooong car. I believe that there are folks who can fit a new top and save the original back window. I have no idea where the car is located but the guys who do the tops for the show cars can do almost anything. There is a guy in Minnesota that used to go under the name Ed's Upholstery that did most of the show GM cars where you really needed a first class job. The other point that is important is that the original window is date coded and when it was destroyed you would have difficulty finding another.

From Ray:

I don't know about Imperials, but given how my Fury is, I can only assume that the Imperials got at the minimum as good a top as the medium price range Fury.

I replaced my top in the Fury a couple years ago, after purchasing it from Hydro-E-Lectric out of Florida, and I added the glass window which is made from PPG Herculite glass. Glass is laminate, at least glass in cars is, and the glass in cars is extremely different than house glass. Especially the windshield which is different than the door glass on most older cars due to it not severing your jugular or carotid when your head goes through it during a wreck.

Glass is a kind of plastic with the actual 'glass' material in between layers of this plastic. This is what he probably meant. What he didn't tell you is that the laminate 'de-laminates' differently between glass companies. Usually if something flexes it'll cause the stuff to separate. Look at an old 40's car in a junkyard or field and see the bubbles on the window glass (usually side windows). It would be worse on a glass window in a convertible top due to the top folding up and down regularly (more often in Hawaii, less often in Alaska). If you have an old top on an old car, this would be a problem.

However, and some of us have dashes to prove it, vinyl is not durable when it hit the sun, and the sun hits the top more often than it does the dash. Therefore, it's more likely than not that you don't have the original top. The glass is usually sewn in, you conceivably could replace the glass by cutting the stitching and putting in a new glass. 99 bucks for a rear window on a convertible is probably a whole lot cheaper than going through that.

The top is composed of 2 sections, the top itself, and the window. The top section is composed of 3 parts, and is primarily attached via a tack strip in the final bow of the top. It's then folded over and either stapled or glued to the frame. The window section is an entirely independent section, and sometimes they are stitched to the top itself, and sometimes they just attach with the zipper and a tack strip located at the back of the well (it's what your well liner snaps to). A good shop can replace the curtain (rear window) only if the top can support it. However, if the top is old, it would be easier to change the whole thing as sometimes the vinyl rots to the point where the new stitching puts too much strain on the top itself and the entire zipper rips free, thus folding the curtain down into the well involuntarily.. Been there, done that.

This is what I would do, and I know nothing about what the current condition is, so it's something of a worst case scenario:

1. Assess the strength of the top. I do this by unzipping the curtain and seeing if a stitch pops on the zipper.

 2. If the stitch pops, don't mess with it and replace the top and get a glass curtain. 

3. If it can hold it, call the top supplier and ask for a sample of your color and grain of top. Top grains vary, especially if they were changed out, so your Imperial's 'stock' grain vinyl would look pretty stupid behind an aftermarket grain. Also, and this is important if you have a colored top, match the color to your top. Dark colors fade, whites yellow with exposure. 

4. If it's a relatively new top and you can live with slight variances, ask what the rear window glass is made of. You WILL be happier with glass for it is easier to clean and doesn't yellow. PPG Herculite is a good glass because it can flex without delamination. If they don't have PPG Herculite but some other company, look it up on the internet and find out as I'm not familiar with others. 

5. Don't use armor all on it, it's too full of silicone. I wash mine with soap and water and a soft brush. If I knew of a protectant that was silicone free, I'd use that.

Hope this helps some. I'm not too familiar with the Imperial line, but most of this is rudimentary stuff that applies to all convertibles, and was learned through experience.

From John:

I bought my '68 top from Hydro-Electric and came with glass but it was smaller than original. To the eye it is unnoticeable.  Colonial grain is glossy leather like and not those pin dot tops on other years.  If you were to keep old glass and vinyl below it it would have to match grain and of course they get dirty unless it is black.

From Greg:

I recently went to the local upholstery shop to order a new top for my Mus***g convertible and we had the same discussion. Even though the glass itself is good, he said it was impossible to duplicate the factory bonding of the material to the glass. Any type of adhesive, silicone, etc would fail after a short time. If the vinyl section that the window is bonded to needs replaced, the only solution is to get a new window unit from the factory which is already bonded to the section of top material.


This page last updated October 1, 2004.  Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club