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1937 Cadillac 70 lowering the top


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As some of you know,  I purchased a driver quality 1937 Cadillac 70 Series Fleetwood convertible sedan last year. The time has finally come when I want to think about putting the top down.  The question here is does anyone have instructions or know how to do it? My concern is the top assembly is composed of a bunch of brittle looking (and rare) die cast parts that, if broken,  would be horrible to replace.  One thought I have is taking the car down to Larder's Upholstery (about 45 minutes away) and just pay him a couple hours of labor to show me how it works. Any advice would be appreciated.  

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It probably isn't any different from any other GM convertible sedan of the period. It is always helpful to have a buddy to help you out. Just move things gently and slowly and don't let it ever hang by itself without being supported by a person and you should be fine. I always start by releasing the windshield header and then just tilting it back. Sometimes it helps to stand in the back seat area to help fold it into the well. The back half should just fold that way. It's the front half that might take some looking and investigating as you fold. I bet there's a joint somewhere above the front side windows that folds inward rather than back. Also look for additional latches--if it doesn't seem to want to move, look for some kind of latch or turnbuckle that might help hold things in place, or a thumb screw of some kind. 

 

It shouldn't be difficult, and after you see how it folds it'll be a piece of cake. Just go slowly, don't put any pressure on the top frame, and if it starts to bind or hang, pull it back up and look for a hidden latch or source of the binding. 

 

Regular folks managed this back when it was new, you as a conscientious hobbyist will easily be able to figure it out. Just take your time!

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AJ has experience with Cadillac tops. Drive the car 55 mph with the top unlatched, and let the wind do the work for you. Worked for him on our V-16 Cadillac........should work ok for a V-8 also.

Be sure ALL doors are open all the way............sometimes they need the clearance to roll backwards. 

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Posted (edited)

I suspect that this top mechanism is the same as my 1937 Roadmaster 80C. I could not initially figure it out. I called a friend who owned one and had him explain it to me. Since mine had apparently not been down in about 50 years, I also applied some solvent to all of the pivot points, slightly loosened the nuts on the pivot points that had nuts on them, and then waited until the next day to lower the top. You have to unsnap/unzip the rear window before you fold the top back. 

 

In addition to the three attachment points at the windshield frame, you have some more stuff to do before you can fold the top. You need to remove the "B" pillars, which are attached at both thetop and bottom with large wing nuts. There are also removable sections of the top frame that go over the rear windows and are attached by one wing nut on each side. You have to remove those wing unts and pivot the front edge of those frame sections down to remove them. (They are attached at the rear by two pins). After you pivot them down, you can pull them out. Until you remove those sections, you will never fold the rest of the foldable frame back. This photo shows one side's worth of the pieces you have to remove before you can fold the top frame.   

DSC_0889.JPG

Edited by MCHinson (see edit history)
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This helps a lot everyone.  I have a friend who is pretty experienced with early convertibles. I'll ask him to grab one side for me. I think loosening all the bolts is great advice.  I'll keep you posted on how I do.

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3 hours ago, edinmass said:

AJ has experience with Cadillac tops. Drive the car 55 mph with the top unlatched, and let the wind do the work for you. Worked for him on our V-16 Cadillac........should work ok for a V-8 also.

Be sure ALL doors are open all the way............sometimes they need the clearance to roll backwards. 


You are a funny boy. Stupid me to think a 7 figure car would roll of the trailer with the top up but not latched.  I learned the hard way.

 

As for the convertible sedan, I’m guessing that is a careful two man job.

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I also forgot to mention, look carefully for all of the snaps on the top. After you think you have unsnapped all of them, you will probably find a few you missed. 

 

Also, I folded mine down by myself, but it would be easier with two people. As I recall, I started in the front seat, moved a bit side to side, and eventually ended up standing in the rear floor to fold it all the way back. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, alsancle said:


You are a funny boy. Stupid me to think a 7 figure car would roll of the trailer with the top up but not latched.  I learned the hard way.

 

As for the convertible sedan, I’m guessing that is a careful two man job.


 

My only regret was I wasn’t there to see it! 😜
 

On the positive side......it wasn’t your car.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)

When you get done lowering the top, please wright a treatise on what you did!  Matt has some very good suggestions and gave me the same advise last year when I asked the same question for my 40 Buick Century phaeton it although I haven’t tried it yet.  It is probably as mindless as rolling down the window, but even though I am over 70, it have never seen it done.  It is probably a two man job but one guy I met at a show several years ago had cut some small wooden pieces of a one by four to brace the frame as he lowered it into the boot so as not to pitch the material and was doing it by himself.

 

Funny all those tops worked the same but if you look for Cad, Buick, Packard etc manuals on the same subject, you can not find anything.   It’s just like knowing how to crank start a car without braking your arm.  100 years ago they assumed we know what we are doing!  There should be a service bulletin called “first time top lowering for dummies.”

Edited by Century Eight (see edit history)
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I just put the top down the other day on a '40 Buick Century phaeton and it was pretty straightforward. The only hitch was that the joint above the front windows didn't want to bend and until it did, nothing else would fold. It's like an accordion, so each joint needs to be free to bend as it needs to. Once I spotted the problem and got that joint moving, the rest just kind of fell into place.

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Hi folks. Thanks for the thoughtful replies. As you may have seen, in the most recent issue of The Antique Automobile,  Lowell Carlsons 1937 Series 70 was featured. His car piqued my interest as it has a nearly identical color combination as my car, and he clearly put the top down for the photo shoot. 

 

I called Mr. Carlson and had a great talk with him. He talked me through the process, step by step. The key point I missed was lowering the rear window (the backlight) before proceeding.  I had everything else pretty close.  The second key point was the top folds like an accordion,  as Matt mentioned.  It was more important to push it than to lift it. With that, the top lowered very easily.

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Posted (edited)

I got the top down but have a persistent problem with running the engine and drivability What it is doing is starting slowly (reluctantly) but it does fire. Once started, it idles well but at higher RPMs stumbles and acts like it's starving for gas. On the road,  it's okay when cool but runs worse once warmed up. I've had three different coils in it, have bypassed the electric fuel pump, tried the cold rag trick on the fuel lines to try to avoid vapor lock, the distributor has been rebuilt, mechanical fuel pump rebuilt, carb rebuilt twice, all new spark plugs. One thing that occurs to me that I have not done is to bypass the fuel filter. Now...my admission of shame. I'm not sure how one adjusts the carb float, nor am I sure which direction to adjust, even if I did know how the adjustment is made. Any thoughts? Ed would probably have had this sorted in 45 minutes.  Alas, I am not Ed.

Edited by ericmac
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