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63 Ghia convertible top frame mystery and issues and need help
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Big Mike Cbad
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 11:55 pm    Post subject: 63 Ghia convertible top frame mystery and issues and need help Reply with quote

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Starting a new thread about a vert top issue/mystery after some folks caught some issues while responding to another post. I really need expertise to figure out the issue and correct it before going to body and paint. The history behind the car is it was a 63 vert basket case and was not a complete car when I bought it. The prior owner was converting it to a glass rear window car and did some modifications, but never finished the job and it sat for 20 years unfinished. I am now finding and fixing the issues, but need help identifying what should be there and what should not so I can return it to 63 correct and buy and install a plastic window top.

The PO removed the parcel shelf and did other modifications to accommodate a glass window and top, so my questions are the following:

1) should a 63 Ghia vert have a lip around the rim of the rear window for a tension cable to mount the top? I saw video of a glass window install where the lip was required, but don't think I need it for a plastic window top. I've included a pic of my car with the lip in place and a pic of the donor parcel shelf from a car which did not have a lip for the top and should be from the same period as mine. I'm going to reinstall the parcel shelf you see in the pic.

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2) Does a 63 vert need cable tension mount points inside the cab to tension the cable that runs through the lip you see in the pic which is used for of a glass window top. I am under the impression that lip and mount points are not period correct for a 63 or needed for a plastic window top, correct?
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3) I believe my top frame is correct, but was tweaked a bit to accommodate the glass window. Looking at the windshield frame, see pic, and my wood bow and locking mechanism I think I'm good there, but it appears he changed the strap and the spacing at the rear of the frame. I do have the wood bow that goes over the rear bar, but not pictured in all the pics. Any feedback about the frame besides the spacing and incorrect strapping?
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4) Anything else I need to look for to confirm I have what I need to correct the car to accommodate a new plastic window top?

5) Is there any Ghia experts open to getting on the phone with me for a video walkaround of my car who can help me determine what I need to fix to properly install a plastic window top after installing the parcel shelf?

Apologies for the long rambling post, but looks like I've opened a can of worms and could use some help. THANKS in advance!!!!
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Marcdeb
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 4:56 am    Post subject: Re: 63 Ghia convertible top frame mystery and issues and need help Reply with quote

Here's a link to an excellent thread on fitting the early top frame like yours.
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/album_search.php?search_id=431754358&start=0
If you look at these pictures, you can see that the rear bow which is laying on the floor is made of two side pieces and the middle part is missing. The side pieces have bends in them. I suspect the middle part (not shown) is wood, but have not found a picture that shows it. The rear bow you have looks like the newer bow for a rear glass window. You likely will need to find the original early bow.

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1971 Karmann Ghia Cabriolet

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Big Mike Cbad
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 7:58 am    Post subject: Re: 63 Ghia convertible top frame mystery and issues and need help Reply with quote

Thanks Marc. I appreciate you catching this on my other post or I would have bought the top and wondered why I couldn't install it. Any feedback on the rear lip that is in place which I don't think is necessary?
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Marcdeb
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 8:19 am    Post subject: Re: 63 Ghia convertible top frame mystery and issues and need help Reply with quote

Big Mike Cbad wrote:
Thanks Marc. I appreciate you catching this on my other post or I would have bought the top and wondered why I couldn't install it. Any feedback on the rear lip that is in place which I don't think is necessary?


I'm more familiar with the later style top as my car is a 71 and I've only worked on mine. Unfortunately I've not found much information on installing an early style top, but you're right, it doesn't use the lip that your car now has. Have you looked at the "Stickies" threads in the Ghia Forum section? If not, check them out. There is a lot of fabulous information there:
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=433752

AND.. from the same Ghia Forum section, you can look at other restoration threads. One in particular will be very helpful for you. It's a 66 Vert done by "sputnick60".
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=...mp;start=0

His top installation starts around page 8. There is some excellent pictures of the top, frame, and relevant body areas.
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1971 Karmann Ghia Cabriolet

Restoration thread: https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=726710&postorder=asc
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rcooled
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 11:13 am    Post subject: Re: 63 Ghia convertible top frame mystery and issues and need help Reply with quote

Big Mike Cbad wrote:
Any feedback on the rear lip that is in place which I don't think is necessary?

That lip is not correct for a '63. That feature was introduced part-way thru the '67 model year when VW started using a cable to attach the lower edge of the top to the body of the car. Prior to that, a wooden tack strip was installed around the rear opening, and the lower edge of the top was stapled to it. I'm re-posting my photo from your other thread showing the tack strip partially installed in my '67. The top frame shown here is exactly the same as the one originally fitted to your '63.

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Quote:
Does a 63 vert need cable tension mount points inside the cab to tension the cable that runs through the lip you see in the pic which is used for of a glass window top?

No, those brackets for securing the cable are not needed for a top that uses a wooden tack strip for attaching the top's lower edge to the car body.

Quote:
Looking at the windshield frame and my wood bow and locking mechanism. I think I'm good there.

Your windshield header is correct for a plastic-window top. You lucked-out there...changing out that piece is not an easy task.
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Big Mike Cbad
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 12:02 pm    Post subject: Re: 63 Ghia convertible top frame mystery and issues and need help Reply with quote

Awesome, thank you. After Marc caught that top frame issue, I looked at the car more closely and realized that lip should be removed and those anchor points should be removed. Now it looks like I need to find the rear bow for the frame. The rest appears correct for my car from what I can tell, but finding just a portion of the frame top won't be easy or cheap, probably have to buy an entire frame for those two rear bars making up the rear bow. I'll take another look at your photos for reference which will help. Appreciate the advice and feedback.
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Big Mike Cbad
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2021 8:21 pm    Post subject: Re: 63 Ghia convertible top frame mystery and issues and need help Reply with quote

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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took a closer look at my vert top frame and think it may be the correct rear bow frame with a meal strip welded in between the two arms to stabilize it. Looking at the close up it looks like the end is tapered and the wood bow appears original and would fit with or without the metal brace. The PO had the latch for the glass window mounted on it which would make sense why he stabilized it. Do any of you who know early Ghias can tell if those rear bow frame arms look correct if the brace wasn't there?
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Disc
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 12:37 am    Post subject: Re: 63 Ghia convertible top frame mystery and issues and need help Reply with quote

Your entire convertible frame is correct exept the welded part on the last bow. Remove the added piece of metal and clean the welds. Cant say nothing about the wood on tne bow cause photos doesnt show enoght, but these wooden bow are different in shape - glass and plastic window bows are different in shape and size.
There's a lot that can go wrong with the top frame unfortunately. Take a look at this topic, that we help you a lot.

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=528076
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Rome
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 8:19 am    Post subject: Re: 63 Ghia convertible top frame mystery and issues and need help Reply with quote

Some more photos for your reference. Here's my '64 being fitted with a new top back in 1986. The top frame is original to the car. You can see the wood rear attachment bow sitting loosely on the rear metal shelf. It would ultimately get fastened at the top of the vertical metal piece on the body, as partially seen on rcooled's car. Also you can clearly see the shape of the body lip edge. Your donor car piece looks correct for your '63, matching the rear bow mounting holes and the body lip shape. The large holes that are on the red paint portion of the donor piece (near body front edge, just to the rear of where the top would end) should not be there.
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The wooden rear bow of the top that is fastened to the rear hoop was original and reusable.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

This shot gives a slight reference as to the tapered ends of the rear hoop bow. The Ghia is a '65 and was modified on the interior to not have a headliner.
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Marcdeb
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 8:30 am    Post subject: Re: 63 Ghia convertible top frame mystery and issues and need help Reply with quote

Rome wrote:

This shot gives a slight reference as to the tapered ends of the rear hoop bow. The Ghia is a '65 and was modified on the interior to not have a headliner.
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Hi Rome,
Surprising that we don't see more Ghia tops installed like this? After all, most other manufacturers of convertibles were just like this. I like the original Ghia top, but for someone who is going to simply ride only on nice days with the top always down, this is just fine and so much easier
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Big Mike Cbad
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 8:57 am    Post subject: Re: 63 Ghia convertible top frame mystery and issues and need help Reply with quote

Awesome, thank you. The pics were very helpful. Looks like my arms are likely correct but will take some work to repair. I'm actually hunting down some replacements but looks like I can salvage mine if I can't get them. Thanks for the feedback on the holes and their locations. I did see the spring on the interior view of the top. Is that stock? I don't recall seeing the spring on the pictures of the parts,

I also love the idea of no headliner. My Mustang vert was the same way and was fine, so I agree, it would be simpler to skip it, but I think I'm going to install the headliner. One issue I'm running into is finding someone to pay to install it in the SoCal area. Seems like no one really wants to deal with tops anymore.

I really appreciate all the feedback, it was a life saver finding this out before going to metal and paint.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 9:31 am    Post subject: Re: 63 Ghia convertible top frame mystery and issues and need help Reply with quote

Big Mike Cbad wrote:
Awesome, thank you. The pics were very helpful. Looks like my arms are likely correct but will take some work to repair. I'm actually hunting down some replacements but looks like I can salvage mine if I can't get them. Thanks for the feedback on the holes and their locations. I did see the spring on the interior view of the top. Is that stock? I don't recall seeing the spring on the pictures of the parts,

I also love the idea of no headliner. My Mustang vert was the same way and was fine, so I agree, it would be simpler to skip it, but I think I'm going to install the headliner. One issue I'm running into is finding someone to pay to install it in the SoCal area. Seems like no one really wants to deal with tops anymore.

I really appreciate all the feedback, it was a life saver finding this out before going to metal and paint.


Ive seen a few pix of cars without the headliner and padding from the outside and it looks like crap. You are smart to do it right. The padding gives the top a nice contour vs the stretched out flattened area between bows that you get on regular cars.
Try these guys, they do a lot of classic cars.
http://www.obupholstery.com/
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 9:34 am    Post subject: Re: 63 Ghia convertible top frame mystery and issues and need help Reply with quote

Big Mike, I agree with Disc's assessment that your rearmost metal bow needs to have the welded-on connecting metal strap removed. That's the piece welded up from underneath here.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

There should not be a spring on the original factory top, seen on the '65's "bare" inside shot.

Realize that your original Ghia top had not only a headliner, but padding for noise dampening and shaping. Those components fulfill the description of a cabriolet compared to a convertible. Leaving those parts out of the design such as your Mustang (factory) or the bare top frame of that '65 (modified) carry the description of convertible. Beetle-based cabrios as well as Ghias which were built at Karmann in Osnabrueck, Germany have the headliner and padding, so even when we casually use the word "Cabrio" it is actually accurate. The Karmann factory in Brazil also made Ghias- very, very few- but in contrast to those built in Germany did not have the headliner nor padding and are thereby correctly defined as convertibles.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 10:56 am    Post subject: Re: 63 Ghia convertible top frame mystery and issues and need help Reply with quote

Big Mike Cbad wrote:
Awesome, thank you. The pics were very helpful. Looks like my arms are likely correct but will take some work to repair. I'm actually hunting down some replacements but looks like I can salvage mine if I can't get them. Thanks for the feedback on the holes and their locations. I did see the spring on the interior view of the top. Is that stock? I don't recall seeing the spring on the pictures of the parts,

I also love the idea of no headliner. My Mustang vert was the same way and was fine, so I agree, it would be simpler to skip it, but I think I'm going to install the headliner. One issue I'm running into is finding someone to pay to install it in the SoCal area. Seems like no one really wants to deal with tops anymore.

I really appreciate all the feedback, it was a life saver finding this out before going to metal and paint.


Ive seen a few pix of cars without the headliner and padding from the outside and it looks like crap. You are smart to do it right. The padding gives the top a nice contour vs the stretched out flattened area between bows that you get on regular cars.
Try these guys, they do a lot of classic cars.
http://www.obupholstery.com/
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Go Reds! Smash state!

Retirement is here!
1956 Ghia
1959 SO-23 Westfalia
1960 double cab
1961 Beetle convertible
1962 Golde sunroof Ghia
1963 356 B coupe
1963 Ghia coupe
1967 21 window rust bucket
1969 Ghia convertible
1970 Ghia convertible
1973 Ghia convertible X 2
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Big Mike Cbad
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 11:55 am    Post subject: Re: 63 Ghia convertible top frame mystery and issues and need help Reply with quote

Thanks for the feedback. If I can't locate the replacement arms I'll salvage mine and of course get new wood bows all around as part of the restoration. I've already decided to go ahead and do the headliner and padding just trying to sort out the mechanicals first so the information has been incredibly helpful. Saved me a ton of heartache addressing it before going to body and paint.

Now if I can only find a vert top specialist in Socal to help with the install I'll be in good shape. I'm buying the headliner and top but think the install is above my capabilities.

Thanks to everyone, you guys have been amazing.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 12:30 pm    Post subject: Re: 63 Ghia convertible top frame mystery and issues and need help Reply with quote

Big Mike Cbad wrote:


Now if I can only find a vert top specialist in Socal to help with the install I'll be in good shape. I'm buying the headliner and top but think the install is above my capabilities.

Thanks to everyone, you guys have been amazing.


I had one quote locally for $8,000 including all materials. Shocked I think the guy just didn't want to do it.

You could always consider doing it yourself. It's not for everyone, but if you are mechanically minded, it's very doable. I've found plenty of resources for DYI installation. In addition to all the resources here on TheSamba, Chuck's Convertible Parts sells pretty much everything you need. They also install tops so they will give install support for people who buy from them. I've only heard good things about them and my new top materials all came from Chucks. The quality is excellent. They also provide written instructions.

Before starting my top install, I was fortunate enough to find a complete frame with a 6 year old top from a parted out car. It wasn't a perfect fit as tops have to be fit to each car and I'm sure no 2 would be exactly the same so I had to disassemble the top and headliner up to the main bow and basically install it from the main bow back. it went very well. All I had was the instructions found here on TheSamba.
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1971 Karmann Ghia Cabriolet

Restoration thread: https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=726710&postorder=asc
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