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Hardtop for convertibles...


Roadster90
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Not to throw cold water on a project like this but do a little planning..... <P>None of the weatherstripping is available.<P>The locating pins on the back would need to be machined and the '91 pins are threaded, forcing you to produce two versions of that one part.<P>The front latching mechanism is not available from GM and some design work would be required to solve that problem.<P>The back glass could probably be "borrowed" from some newer, more readily available convertible. However, I would think the glass alone would run $75-100.<P>Lastly the market. I would be supprised if you could get 10 deposits. An example, I attempted to get interest in new carpet sets which I would think,have a higher interest.<BR>But received only 9 names. Had I ask for deposits I am sure it would have been less.<P>With only 2,437 convertibles produced and some percentage of those being the donated cars and others wrecked and scrapped, you total market today is maybe 2,200.<P>Take away the people that have low mileage, show cars that have no need for a hardtop and you are probably below 2,000.<P>I have never added the convertibles on the database, but it must be less than 1,000.<BR> the remaining cars are in the hands of who knows.<P>If you build them, I would guess you might find buyers for 30-50 and the selling price would probably be more than $2500 with everything needed to drop it on the car.<BR>I am sure you or your friend are not planning on donating you time.

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Barney, you bring up good points -- but since I've been a marketing weinie for the past 32 years, I'd like to believe we've covered most of the bases you mention.<P>Weatherstripping would not be pre-formed; with today's technology, it's available in flat stock and is formable under moderate heat. Both clamps and rear pull-downs can be fabricated cheaply out of non-metallic composites, such as the gunsights built by my friend, Tom Millet of Millet Industries. The backlight is envisioned as being Lucite, rather than glass. The top, as now drawn, would be a two-piece shell, with the inner piece serving as the headliner.<P>We have the technology; the only unknown is the market. As I said, we based our numbers on 100 pieces. Our time would be gratis, just as yours and others have been donated regarding brake flushing, headlight repair, etc.<P>The fun part now -- even if it doesn't come to fruition -- is the design. We have about three different looks on paper, ranging from the mid-'90s Cougar shape to "Batmobile 2002."<P>Stay tuned.<P>Jerry

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As Barney points out some of us have low mileage show cars that are stored all winter long especially in the colder climates and probably would not bother during the short show season with a hardtop.<P>It is something I once thought should have been available on the Reatta convertibles as it was on most years of the Cadillac Allante.<P>When I was shopping for a new Reatta convertible, which I never bought, I use to always have fun with the new salesman esecially one at a single marque Buick dealership (recently hired after many years as a Chevy salesman). One of my questions was there a hardtop available for the Reatta convertible (I knew the answer was no) and if not when would it be available? You all know a salesman wants to find a way to say yes when the real answer is no. It was the questioning of the higher ups and watching the time spent trying to find an answer running around the dealership was always comical.<P>Those that have drivers in colder climates or damp and foggy prone areas are going to want heated back windows on any hardtop project which means you need to have some means of saving the back window glass from soft tops that are replaced and a way of wiring the window glass as it is on the soft top currently.<P>Having the correct convertible top glass which is being made somewhere for the replacement tops would probably be the best alternative but probably very expensive.<P>Just my two cents.<P>I probably would no longer consider buying a hardtop for my convertible, although I think it is a neat idea.<P>By the way, what color would they come in?<P>Will the material used to form the top be able to be finished in the correct exterior color of the car. Customizers might want a two tone affect too if the have a beat up driver that they want to restore with gobs of money.<P>90 White Convertible owner

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This is kind of a think piece, just trying to get some feedback from the Forum's convertible owners. As some of you know, I have a brand new top assembly, totally complete sans the cloth. A tennis club buddy owns a fiberglass fabrication company, and has suggested we lay up a glass top over the form. We talked bucks, and decided I'd better get some consensus before proceeding. So, bottom line here is: (1) is there any real interest in a lift-off hardtop, and (2) what price would anyone be willing to pay for a fiberglass top, with headliner, hold-downs and lucite rear window? I'm not trying to get into the business, or make a profit; I'd just divide the overall cost, including lay-up, by the number of tops wanted. Let me know.<P>Jerry

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P.S. Obviously, this wouldn't be a blind buy. If there's enough interest, we'll proceed with a prototype. Photos would be available before you'd be asked to make a in-out decision. But please, only real interested parties.<P>Jerry

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Guest Tonivisa

I currently have a 90 red conv. and would jump at the chance to have a hard top. To keep the price down,I would rocomend a primed version and possibly white or red.This should cover all the bases. Not all conv. owners visit this site. The word would travel FAST. Please move forward! i think you could sell 200-300. Good luck. Toni Hunt--------Vero Beach,Fl.

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Guest Dolores

I would consider a hard top for my Select 60. The color would have to be white and the rear window glass. I have an extra rear glass window from my old convertible top. It would be neat to see the proposed drawings online.

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I was always interesed in the idea of a hard top since I bought my Reatta in 1992, only because I thought it would look stylish on the car. The problem is one that was inferred earlier: I would never drive my car in inclement weather (rain) or during winter so I would never have need of one, and I think many low-mileage owners probably think the same. Nevertheless, it would look quite stunning and be quite a conversation starter with fellow Reatta owners.<P>Ten years ago I made some sketches for the hard top that basically followed the roofline of the soft top (why mess with the basic design, just keep it simple). Even though I don't drive it in the rain or during the winter, the idea of a heated backlight is appealing; owners could be given instructions for grafting male/female connections onto the wires so they can simply clip when they change tops. <P>There is a company that manufactures hard tops for the new Corvette C5, and it looks okay except for one thing: the back window looks very cheap. It looks like an aftermarket gewgaw, very unappealing, which I think would be a terrible thing to do to the Reatta in my humble opinion, because this beautiful car deserves better. <P>In any case, these are just my opinions. I know you're trying to keep the price from $500-$750, but with the labor, materials, headliner, machining, the latches, weatherstripping, etc. What about insurance? Wouldn't you have to carry some kind of insurance in case someone sues you? What if the latch design is flawed and the thing flies off on the freeway and kills someone? Cars are so complicated because of a myriad of federal regulations, so I can't see how you could break even on a low-volume production of a specialty part for $500-$750, especially since you're gambling on a minimum order. <P>If you haven't done it already, my advice to you is to sit down with the fiberglass guy and build an Excel spreadsheet, putting in every little cost you can think of, including labor and materials. Take the total, divide by the price you want to sell, and that's how many you have to sell to break even. There's a big difference between trying to recoup development costs versus trying to recoup production costs if no one wants to buy the thing.

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Thanks for the input, everyone. Rest assured we've done a spread far more extensive than an Excel program on a PC. (My company sells approximately 1,000 homes a year, with an average selling price of $700,000+. We have a pretty good mainframe.) Here are the two latest developments, and then we'll shut up until the prototype is finished: (1) both the inner and outer shells will be white; leave 'em as is or paint 'em your Reatta color; (2) we have a great lead on 200 rear NOS windows that are glass and heated. They have a slight bend in 'em, so that will affect the top design. We'll announce and publish photos when the proto is completed, but until then...I've always had a business philosophy of no negative comments allowed during a brainstorming session. (Yeah, yeah, I know: it's just constructive criticism, etc., etc., etc.) But no matter how you slice it, the bumblebee would never have flown if he had listened to the "experts" who said it was impossible, viz-a-viz weight, etc., etc., etc.).<P>Jerry

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Thanks for the info. ASC is located on LaCienega Boulevard here in L.A., and I pass by it daily. I'll stop in and check it out.<P>Jerry

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Hi,<BR> we have a 1990 White with White Top, and light Beige Leather just 28K miles, only driven in the summer weekends, otherwise stored in a 21 degrees temp. controlled indoor parking.<BR>At some point my wife and I had thought about selling this car, however a Hard Top if available for $500-$750 would be a sound investment, weather we used it or not.<BR>Just off Topic, How many Riviera's 1990-1993 were made with Pearl White with matching White Leather interior?<BR>many thanks and have a great day. <A HREF="http://communities.msn.ca/CitroensReattaRivieraBangOlufsen/shoebox.msnw?Page=9" TARGET=_blank>http://communities.msn.ca/CitroensReattaRivieraBangOlufsen/shoebox.msnw?Page=9</A> <BR>1990 Buick Reatta Convertible with only 41K Kms.(see the picture)<p>[ 03-27-2002: Message edited by: prakash raja ]

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I would purchase a removable hardtop for my Red '90 Convertible,in a heartbeat.if the price is less than $1,000.00 and it is nice looking. I think the design should "follow the lines" of the Convertible top and I agree that the rear window should be made of glass w/heat strips like the convertible top has. Just "push on" with your design and keep up the good work and I feel sure you could sell at least 100 tops. cool.gif" border="0smile.gif" border="0wink.gif" border="0

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This is a fascinating subject. I do not own a Reatta convertible, but have been looking for the right one for me for a couple of years. I have owned many convertibles, including Buick Riviera, Buick LeSabre, Mazda Miata and Mazda RX-7. <P>Mercedes had a thorough system for the winter hardtop for the 350SL/450SL/380SL/500SL/560SL of 1972 through 1989. This included even a top carrier/cradle for use in a garage during storage, as well as an overhead pulley/dolly mechanism for installation/removal. This was the ideal scheme, and of course Mercedes knew it and treated their customers right from the start by providing the hardtop. <P>Ford intended to have an optional hardtop available for the new body style 1994 Mustang. This product was developed, advertised, marketed but never sold.<P>Mazda makes a professional, slick hardtop for the Miata. It is sold in very limited numbers. It costs about $1,500 if purchased new, in correct body colors, when you order a new Miata. If you wait and buy the (very well fitting) top after you get the car you will pay $2,500 plus the cost of painting the primered top. This top is superior. It includes all needed Mazda original hardware plus a glass window with defroster.<P>BMW has sold an also excellent optional hardtop for their three series convertibles. This too is a quality, factory original part. I've seen it on only one car. It looks great. How many have you seen on three series BMWs? Not many - not much demand. <BR> <P>All these convertibles have sold in huge numbers in comparison to Buick Reatta. The top came with the SL. Ford and could not make the top affordable to buyers. Mazda and BMW sell very, very few. Reatta is a dead car with under 2,500 convertibles sold. The proposed production of a hard top ten plus years after Buick gave up on the car is, with all due respect to the gentleman proposing the same, not appropriate.<P>I hope I am able to find a nice Reatta convertible. This car should cost me from $8,000 to $12,000. As I was not willing to pay for a hardtop for my $21,000 Miata and wouldn't have done so for a similar or greater cost Mustang, I certainly would not for a ten plus year old Reatta. A potential Reatta would be only a summer/car show car. I would only use the car April - November; it will sleep with the motorcycle in our long winter. The top - I don't need it, I don't want it, but I do understand the interest of the owners who do use their cars all year long. Good luck, but I am quite leery of the utility to the very few owners of Reatta convertibles.

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UPDATE: <P>ASC (American Sunroof Corporation) knows nothing of a Reatta hardtop. It builds aftermarket carriage tops for Lincoln Town Cars and Cadillac Sedan de Villes.<P>As resonse to our initial posting was underwhelming, we've decided to proceed with a one-off, based on the new '91 frame I recently acquired.<P>It will not be installed on my '90 Maui blue ragtop. We've just picked up a salvage title '90, and are playing with it in a whole bunch of ways: Recaro seats, fixed headlights, exhausts through the upper sides of the front fenders (a la the original Buick Wildcat dream/showcar), no grille (bottom-breather), the much-needed 12-inch rear extension, mild spoiler, etc. No engine mods, as we're playing with looks, not performance. Most interesting developement to date: WheelCity/USA has dropped on a set of 20" wheels, which look absolutely spectacular. Stay tuned.<P>Jerry<P>P.S. RRR will probably check in with one of his papal edicts grin.gif" border="0 viz-a-viz what this is all worth -- but we'll continue anyway. Last time we got all stoked was on a '59 SquareBird convertible, which eventually was purchased by the young actor who played the deputy on Warner Bros.' TV series, LAWMAN.<P>It's all fun, and keeps us young.<P>Jerry

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