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Go Back   Bimmerfest - BMW Forums > BMW Model Discussions > 3 Series / 4 Series > E36 (1991 - 1999)

E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 09-26-2008, 09:12 AM
slaneme1 slaneme1 is offline
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Mein Auto: 1999 323i convertible
New convertible top install???

I need to replace the covertible top on my 99 323 and several shops I have gotten estimates from are $1500 - $2000, which I don't have. They sell the tops on E-bay for about $500 and say it can be done by non-professionals(?) Has anyone bought one of these or does any one know how difficult the install would be? Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 10-03-2008, 07:45 PM
AU Terry AU Terry is offline
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Mein Auto: 1999 328 ic convertible
Convertible Top Replacement

I found this information on another site and seems to be a great start.




http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...d.php?t=906187
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  #3  
Old 10-04-2008, 10:20 AM
slaneme1 slaneme1 is offline
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Is that link right...it says not found when I hit it. Thanks 4 your help.

Last edited by slaneme1; 10-04-2008 at 10:21 AM. Reason: change info
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  #4  
Old 10-07-2008, 05:26 PM
AU Terry AU Terry is offline
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Try this?

http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...d.php?t=906187
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  #5  
Old 10-14-2008, 06:07 AM
slaneme1 slaneme1 is offline
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Thanks...thats just what I was looking for!!!
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  #6  
Old 08-04-2010, 01:10 PM
blueskycar blueskycar is offline
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Honestly, it's an 8 hour job done correctly by a professional. You more than likely also need tension straps (which will take and extra 1-2 hours), which about 90% of the e36s we see need. The only top I would honestly get for an e36 is GAHH (though a Robbins top would be good too). My family has been in the convertible top installation business for quite a while (25 years experience). To close, I'd say that yes, it's possible to put a top on yourself, but look forward to a lot of frustation, especially if you buy a top that is not of the best quality. And if you do it wrong, it's gonna cost a hell of a lot more in the long run.
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  #7  
Old 10-30-2010, 08:39 PM
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fun2drive fun2drive is offline
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Having just removed and installed my convertible top, tension straps and headliner I don't agree with this advice. My top was a GAHH and frankly compared to the EZ On Tops I replaced it with using Topsonline.com it was virtually the same and was around $600 cheaper. My old GAHH top while looking OK had much deterioration inside under the headliner that was unseen.
For an amatur such as myself I had a friend help me do this and took our time, took pictures and frankly double and triple checked out work. FYI my car is an M3 98 model vert. I am an engineer and pilot by trade but was raised on a farm and learned to be versitile with most things.

If you have no mechanical skills then I would not take this on, if you are not a patient person I would not take this on.

It is not hard nor was this particularly frustrating but it is time consuming and requires some finger agility.

Not to demean the pros but you can do this yourself. The reasons pros charge what they charge is because their time is valuable and 8 hours seems to be the nominal amount of time to accomplish this. About the only non standard tool I had to use was a rivet gun that installs aluminum rivets that has a streamlined head needed for installing the rivets in the rear side window channel. It is very narrow and you either grind the head down on each side or use a spacer so that the rivet seats against the inside channel when installed.

Also the reason that my top took longer is because the so called pros screwed this installation up in multiple ways. The poster above does the tops right but don't think for a moment other pros will.

What was screwed up?
Well first of all the rear window channel that is attached to the convertible top was not riveted in the two lower rivets holes which allowed the top to come up just past the channel and allow an unacceptable air gap and pucker. The rest of the channel which requires rivets of different width were not installed and they used a phillips screw with nut really screwing this up badly as the hardware was not tight.
Reinstalling the front channel which the large rubber gasket meets the windshield half the hardware was missing, the small phillips screws. Clearly they used whatever hardware they had rather than install the correct fasteners or get the correct fasteners.

So if you choose to go with a pro ask for references and go check those cars out. If you have this done expect your hardware to cost over a $1000 and the install to be whatever the rate is at 8 hours, seems like $600 is an industry standard where I live.

Regardss of the top you have installed if you don't take care of it with UV inhibitor, gently clean and recondition the beading ability of the top it will fail well before it is supposed to...

Last edited by fun2drive; 10-30-2010 at 08:44 PM.
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  #8  
Old 10-31-2010, 05:08 AM
Echo46 Echo46 is offline
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Fun2drive: what products to you recommend for the top. I recently got a 95 vert. The top is in very good condition and I want to keep it that way...
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  #9  
Old 09-06-2012, 07:01 PM
lpaulg lpaulg is offline
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Location of your family's business

I need to replace my top on my 99 M3 but I can't get a straight answer from either the dealer or the top installation store as to whether I need a new top or a new mechanical frame for the top. The problem is that the top won't go down and sit properly into the trunk although I've had it adjusted a million times. Might be the tensioner straps and not the actual canvas top. Any thoughts? Clearly I don't want to buy a new top if it won't fix the problem. Where is your family business located as I'm in NJ too. Thanks.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blueskycar View Post
Honestly, it's an 8 hour job done correctly by a professional. You more than likely also need tension straps (which will take and extra 1-2 hours), which about 90% of the e36s we see need. The only top I would honestly get for an e36 is GAHH (though a Robbins top would be good too). My family has been in the convertible top installation business for quite a while (25 years experience). To close, I'd say that yes, it's possible to put a top on yourself, but look forward to a lot of frustation, especially if you buy a top that is not of the best quality. And if you do it wrong, it's gonna cost a hell of a lot more in the long run.
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  #10  
Old 09-07-2012, 09:34 AM
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petriej petriej is offline
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