Thursday, 17 May 2007

Planning To Go Topless

It may seem premature to be thinking of taking the roof off my Beetle however I need to replace the heater channels and there would be a lot of mileage in installing carbiolet sill strengtheners at the same time. Of course there's absolutely no point in going to all that expense unless I'm pretty certain that I'll want to take the roof off at a later date. Obviously the idea has some appeal or I wouldn't even be considering it but while I like the idea of cruising around in the sunshine with the top off, our UK weather isn't all sunshine and my car has to spend most of it's time on the drive at the side of our house as we don't have a garage.

To be honest, the 'normal' cabriolet option doesn't appeal to me. I don't like the way the folded down hood perches on the back of the car making it look like a big pram and I don't think they have nothing at all going for them with the hood up. Clearly I've just blown my chances of ever being offered honorary membership of the Cabriolet Owners Club but I don't care. Each to his own and all that, I just don't like cabriolet bugs.

However there are other options. VW produced Beetles (referred to as 'ragtops') with a large cloth panel on the top and although it appears that some of the bits are no longer available, Paris Beetles do kits for some pretty huge 'sunroofs', the biggest of which is as huge 38" x 31" inches and ends up looking to all intents and purposes like a VW ragtop. Paris also do three smaller sizes and of course there are 'normal' type sunroofs available with 'glass' panels. Sunroof and ragtop options benefit over the full cabriolet conversion in that they are a heck of a lot simpler and cheaper to install, largely because you don't need all the strengthening. Thus, if I were planning to go down that route, I wouldn't need to be thinking about installing sill strengtheners.

There is however another option: the targa, which involves having a removable section of roof between the A and B posts i.e. the bit above the driver and front passenger seats. The tops of the door frames are also made removable too.

Apparently there are only about half a dozen of targa beetles in the UK, most of which are the work of a company called Thump Thump and although they are no longer doing conversions, their website at is dedicated to a number of rather splendid examples of this rare and somewhat love it or hate it style. Clearly I love it but something that wasn't immediately apparent until somebody told me and I did a bit of measuring to check, is that because of the bugs body shape, the removable panel will fit down behind the driver and passenger seats when it's not in use. Thus, if done right, and properly maintained such that the seals aren't allowed to become leaky with age, you have all the benefits of a top down head turner when the sun shines and all the benefits of a hard top when it rains. Of course there's a little more strengthening and other work required than just installing sill stengtheners but that's for later. The important thing for now is that the sill strengtheners ARE on my shopping list.

No comments: