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  1. #1
    Sunny5
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    Convertible top: How bad can it get?

    I'm really out of my element here so I thought I'd rustle up some opinions from those of you with experience in this matter.

    I'm looking at a E36 convertible for purchase and my assetts tell me the top is really messed up...I don't know the details, but one guy in the know says it could run up to $1800 to get it right...apparently some of the framework/supports may be bent.

    So...what's the worst case senario if the canvass and internal lining are good.

    How costly could it get with the rest...

    BTW, anyone ever hear of a conversion kit to make a power top into a manual top?
    TIA


  2. #2
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    Member No: 5204 bones774 is an unknown quantity at this point bones774's Avatar
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    Re: Convertible top: How bad can it get?

    I can't really tell you $$$ on repair but the simplest way to make power into manual is to pull the red lever under the rear passenger seat. That disengages the top motors, you could also test the movement of the top in "neutral" so to speak. I'm not too sure how that would lock the tonneau cover down and that could/should be a concern.

  3. #3
    gulden
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    It can be bad

    I JUST FINISHED PUTTING ON MY FIRST E36 CONVERTIBLE TOP. THE RESULTS WERE EXCELLENT. IT WAS A THREE DAY JOB. THE MAIN PROBLEM WAS THAT THE TOP DID NOT COME WITH ANY INSTRUCTIONS, NOR WAS THE BENTLY MANUAL OR THE INTERNET ANY HELP. I HAVE INSTALLED LOTS OF BRITISH CAR TOPS AND BY FAR THE BMW WAS THE MOST COMPLICATED. NOW THAT I HAVE INSTALLED THE FIRST ONE, THE NEXT WOULD BE MUCH EASIER. AN EXTREMELY GOOD TOP CAN BE HAD ON EBAY FOR $409.00. YOU CAN GET THEM AS CHEEP AS $275.00 (VINYL). THE TOP IS NOT THE MAIN COST THOUGH. IF YOUR TWO MAIN STRAPS ARE BAD, MEANING THE ELASTICITY IS KAPUT, THEY COST $400.00. I WENT TO THE FABRIC STORE AND BOUGHT 14 FT OF ELASTIC FOR $20 AND RE-SEWED IT INTO MY EXISTING STRAPS. IF YOUR INTERNAL ROPES ARE SHOT, THEY CAN COST AN ADDITIONAL $50. I MADE MY OWN FOR AROUND $15. IF YOUR HEADLINER IS RIPPED/BAD. THAT'S $275.00. RUBBER SEALS NEED REPLACING-LOT'S MORE MONEY. PLUS YOU STILL NEED TO ADD IN LABOR ($800.00- $1,000.00), UNLESS YOU DO IT YOUR SELF. MINE, THANK GOODNESS, WAS A MANUAL TOP. IF YOU HAVE AN AUTOMATIC AND IT'S OUT OF ALIGNMENT- BIG HASSEL. IF ONE OF THE MOTORS IS BAD $500 TO $600 EA.. OF COURSE, EBAY IS A GREAT PLACE TO SAVE MONEY BY BUYING USED. I HAD A 1998, M3, WITH AN AUTOMATIC, AND MUST SAY, THE AUTOMATIC IS SO NICE. I JUST PASSED UP ANOTHER M3, FOR $5,000.00. RAN GREAT, NICE BODY BUT THE TOP JAMED IN PLACE AND NEEDED TWO PEOPLE TO PUT IT UP AND DOWN. FAR CHEEPER TO BUY A MORE EXPENSIVE ONE THAT WORKED FINE.
    IF YOU LIVE IN A VERY COLD CLIMATE, NEVER FOLD THE TOP IN BELOW FREEZING WEATHER. THE PLASTIC WINDOW SHATTERS.
    MY SUGGESTION IS, IF BUYING AN E36 CONVERTIBLE, MAKE SURE THE TOP IS IN EXCELLENT CONDITION AND FOLDS PERFECTLY. IF NOT, PASS THAT ONE UP AND GO LOOK AT ANOTHER. I HAVE A 1995, 318i, GREEN WITH A GREEN TOP, 5 SPEED. I LOVE IT.
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