December 9, 2009 7:38 PM   Subscribe

How much would it cost to repair/replace the roof of a 1988 BMW convertible?

We are thinking about buying a 1988 bmw convertible for my brother-in-law for Christmas. Apparently "the handle for the roof is broken, so the hood can't go up (very easy to fix). "

I have no experience with convertibles, and the car is cheap enough that we could afford to put some work into it, but I need some idea of what it will cost.

And so I turn to the hive mind, my trusted guide in all manners esoteric and then some.
posted by gilgamix to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total)
I suspect that, to get an accurate answer to this, you'll need to take this car to a dealer or body shop to get an estimate... there isn't enough clear information here for an answer.
posted by HuronBob at 7:50 PM on December 9, 2009

^^^ Plus I doubt very much that the handle for the roof has any impact whatsoever on the function of the hood.
posted by torquemaniac at 7:55 PM on December 9, 2009

If it's a matter of repairing or replacing elements of the handle and latching mechanism, then it might not be very costly. Those items can be obtained relatively easily from salvage. If the material of the actual top is damaged, that may be more costly and time consuming. There are certainly body shops in the LA area that can do reconstructions but those might be inferior in quality to the original top.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:01 PM on December 9, 2009

A busted latch is one thing, but are you at least able to raise the roof enough to inspect the condition of the mechanics and fabric?

A friend and I replaced the entire soft top on a Mazda Miata once, and it was the worst 6 hours of our lives. Quotes from shops were in the $1k range.
posted by VanCityChica at 8:52 PM on December 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Whenever someone is trying to sell something that's broken, and they say that it's "easy to fix," or that you can get the part cheap on ebay, you have to ask yourself why they didn't bother fixing it. I have no clue how much it would cost to fix this, but given that it's a BMW, my guess is much more than you'd like.
posted by Slinga at 10:06 PM on December 9, 2009

Is it that the roof can't go up at all, or that the roof simply can't be properly latched for actual use?

If it's the latter, and it really is just a matter of replacing the latch, this probably actually is easy. When a latch handle broke on my convertible, I was able to find the part on eBay very cheaply and my husband installed it in about five minutes with an ordinary screwdriver, and I daresay I could have done that job myself. But I have a VW cabriolet, so "very cheaply" is relative.

If it's the former, that's another ball of wax.

I also wonder why someone wouldn't just fix it before selling if it were an easy fix, but it's possible that the goal is fast money, given the times. My aforementioned Cabriolet was a ridiculous steal for that reason--guy needed cash fast.
posted by padraigin at 10:45 PM on December 9, 2009

BEWARE. Stay away from this car if it has a power operated top. The mechanical top mechanism on the early 325i convertibles does not work. The actuator rod in the mechanism bends and is a very expensive repair.
posted by Raybun at 5:40 AM on December 11, 2009

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