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Advise on replacing conv top 1988

4167 Views 6 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  GT02

I am looking into replacing the convertible top on my '88 GT.

Is it a job that I should consider doing myself? If so, where's a good place to buy a quality top at a good price?

If you think it's beyond the typical di-it-yourselfer (I'm fairly mechanically inclined...) then could you tell me what a fair price would be for a shop to do the install for me (price of materials plus labor)...

I'm in the Southern California area...any suggestions as to a good top shop?

Thanks for reading, Rusty
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Providing you can read & follow written instructions, have a fair knowledge of tools, have patience, and a large-clean work area......replacing your rag top is not a difficult thing to do for yourself. Other than the time for the glue to dry, it is only a couple of hour project from start to finish. Depending on your specific application, a step or two in the procedure may take a helper.

Make sure you keep your hands and tools clean.
I wouldn't do it

I have replaced head gaskets, differentials and just general wrenching but I wouldn't advise doing the top yourself unless you have some experience with fabrics and reupholstering. But that's me. Depending on your area you should get a professional to install it anywhere from 500-1000 bucks. The time to replace that top is about 4 hours by someone who knows what they're doing. For you it could take atleast 8 hours to 3 days....and it might not come out good.

10 cents of advice
I replace my top on my 1995. You need an extra person now and then to help you out and a lot of patience. Personally, I would never do it again. It was a once in a life time experience :yup:
Hopefully, a once-in-a-lifetime experience is all that is needed. Besides, saying "I had it done" is SO FAR away from saying "I did it myself"!

When I work for me, cost per hour is insignificant.

But, I would not advise this job if you do not feel comfortable in your ability to complete it. Yes, portions will require more than two hands. And a large, clean work area is required (clean hands and tools too). And, it may take you more than one afternoon, depending on your abilities. If this is your only means of transportation, that may be a problem.

If the pro is gonna charge $500+, just think what other parts you won't be able to buy in the future.
I replaced my top 2 years ago myself. I had a little help from my father in the form of advice. I would pick a nice warm sunny weekend to start if you do it yourself. Then I'd get a pnuematic stapler and some automotive adhesive. Also check your frame pads to see if they need repairing or replacing and be careful with the boot you don't want to tear it. I asked my local upholstry guy how much he would charge to replace the top, if I bought it, and he quoted me around $600 to take off the old one and install the new one. To be honest it was kinda a PITA to do. If you feel confident in doing it yourself then by all means do it, but if you have the slightest doubt go have it done. Besides if the upholstry guys screws it up he's gotta pay for it not you. I think I bought my top from Year One for somewhere around $350 with the glass window.
Mustang Monthly did a feature on convertible top replacement a few months back. Their impression was that it would be something that a careful owner could accomplish himself. They took the car to a professional and documented the job. In the end they realized that it was way above the ability of an amateur and racommended using a professional for the install. I would concur after reading the article. Anyone can install a top, but what is it going to look like afterwards? Installing a top on a Mustang is vastly different from an install on a 2 seat sports car. The longer the top is, the more any mistake is magnified! Also to work properly the top has to be fitted to a certain degree of tightness and without wrinkles. A pro can do that because of his aquired skill and knowlege. Sure you can try to do it to say you did it. A person I know restored a car himself and after looking at it, everyone went away either shaking their heads in disgust or laughing.
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