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Convertable top maintenance

I have a 65 Mustang convertible that has not had the top latched down tight in years. I was going to hook the top down tight, and the latch is about 1/4 in short of latching. I could probably pull it forward enough to hook it, but I don’t want to damage the top by force stretching it, and causing it to split or tare. Will someone with experience with rag tops please let me know hoe to properly treat this top. Also is this top vinyl or canvas? It looks canvas to me. Did Ford recomend any special for this top? Thanks Phil.

The top has been down for years?

I’d recommend putting the top in the up position but don’t latch it yet. Park it in the sun and let the sun warm up the fabric of the top, this will help it stretch without tearing. Most tops are fitted to be stretched tight so this one should stretch enough to latch.

After it has warmed up a bit open the latch and it the hooks should extend a bit to grab the catches on the windshield. If they don’t run the top motor a bit more to see if the mechanism will move the top closer to the windshield. Since the mechanism hasn’t moved in years it might need hydralic fluid and might not have the power to move the top fully into the correct position. If you are close have someone push the top down into place enough to latch one side and then the other. Just close the latch slowly and the top should stretch as it is pulled tight.

I had a '61 Merc. Convertible that likely had a similar latch system to a '65 Mustang. I’ve got an '04 T’bird convertible now and all tops need some time to stretch into shape when they have been down a long time.

Your top could be a vinyl material, my '61 was vinyl, or it might be fabric as my T’bird is now. Vinyl was more waterproof back in the '60’s. A vinyl material can get hard and “brittle” over time so take it easy and go slow and hope for the best.

If it’s vinyl, wouldn’t a little Armor All do the trick?

Those I know who have classic cars with convertible tops use Lemon Pledge on their tops.

The foaming action of the Pledge lifts the dirt from the top so it can be wiped away, and the lemon oil in the Pledge prevents the top from drying out and water-proofs the top.


Did convertibles in 65 have electrical or electrical/hydraulic assist to aid in top movement? I would have thought it was all “armstrong” powered.