Can you repair a 'vert top?
August 28, 2005 5:15 PM   Subscribe

I just got my first "real" job out of college as a teacher and I want a fun car now. I'm looking at buying a 1989 rebuilt RX-7 Haltech turbo convertible for $5000... the top is ripped and a $1000 replacement is part of the price. Can ripped/leaking/faded tops be restored?

Also... any tips on finding financing for a car that old?
posted by trinarian to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
That is one awsome car... although I think the last generation RX-7 is the best looking...
As long as the top frame is in good condition. the top can be replaced.
Faded top can not be restored though...
If the exterior car looks nice, i will say.. replace it with new top... The car has certain cult following and it should retain the value well...
1000 for replacement top isn't too bad... check out one of those fake convertible top makers who makes tons of fake tops for metal bodies... They should cost little less than actual convertible tops...
posted by curiousleo at 5:42 PM on August 28, 2005

I think the oil filter on the wankel mounts with the gasket side down, this makes a spot free oil change difficult to do at home. Wankels are unique motors, and the rest of the car is also; you might want to investigate some local shops rates for basic services before you purchase.
Tough motor, and the turbo will take well to an intercooler. Oil coolers also go well with turbos.
Gee, guess I missed most of the question; I hope some of this helped anyway.
posted by buzzman at 6:10 PM on August 28, 2005

When I bought a convertable (1968 faux GTO), I mentioned to the previous owner that I was going to look into getting the top replaced, he said " don't you dare, keep that top till it's hanging in rags!". He went on to explain that he had had 5 tops on that car, and this was the only one to make it to old age. Every other one was cut. If you do get it fixed, never lock the car and leave the top down if at all possible (that is, if it's not raining hard).
posted by 445supermag at 6:51 PM on August 28, 2005

check out the rx-7 club 2nd gen forum.

Even without more info on the car and a location, i'd say be careful... If you've never owned a car with aftermarket go fast stuff on it before, make sure you read up on it on the forums. There are definite downsides to owning an older modded car, and they require more maintenance. I would say the damaged top is not your biggest worry here.

The rx7 club also has a specific forum for haltech engine management

Aside from all the cautionary bits above, that should be one helluva fun car and i wish you luck with it.
posted by freq at 7:49 PM on August 28, 2005

If you're buying a 15-year-old rebuilt sports car and an extra grand for a new top overextends you, I'd go so far as to say the car is out of your budget right now. Cars like that don't keep running the way a new car does, and parts aren't going to come cheap either.
posted by mendel at 8:47 PM on August 28, 2005

The 2nd gen is a much-beloved car, but it's not yet a "classic", so there's no point in keeping the top if it's not functioning. It's not like the car will be worth less because it doesn't have an original roof. Anyway, you can get OEM replacement tops and no one will know the difference.

And FYI: RX-7 Factory Service Manual. The section you're interested in is here, starting at page S-73 specifically.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:42 PM on August 28, 2005

Oh, and you can get new RX-7 tops for about $350-$400, if you feel like saving some money and installing it yourself.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:17 PM on August 28, 2005

Having installed several miata tops myself I second CD's comment that you can do it yourself.... IF you are willing to take your time, be patient and possibly have to redo a few things. I bought my last one from CabroWorld and went for a glass window this time and have been very very happy with the quality of it. They've got RX-7 tops as well.

Assuming the installation on the RX-7 is similar to the Miata I'll offer two pieces of advice I've learned the hard way. One, remove the seats before you start. The difference in room to work is just astonishing and it's a simple 4 bolts to do it. Two, the thing that makes the biggest difference in the final quality of the install is the connection of the rear retaining plates.

Draw a semi-circle and draw lines 1/3 and 2/3 of the way through it - that's the 3 plates you'll be putting on to hold down the rear of the top, at least in a Miata. Putting them on in the instructed order and tightening them down according to instructions is what's going to make the top fit/close well or horribly.

One word of warning - buying a convertable can be a lifetime infection. If they really get their hooks into you you'll find yourself unable to ever own anything else. That's what's happened to me.

Oh - you might want to sift around and see if you can find a mazda group for your area. People who have done this before (the top and the buying of an older car) are possibly your best resource.
posted by phearlez at 9:42 AM on August 29, 2005

Turbo means... Aftermarket turbo? The car was originally N/A or Turbo?
Rebuilt Means... New Apex seals? Or New Rotors/Housings also?
If car was N/A were low comp rotors used in rebuild?

All this really doesnt matter, because my experience with RX7s have taught me the car is junk (low quality). The Rotary is silly, other than having few moving parts inside, there is no pay off. Gas mileage is horrible and the engine wears out quickly... Locks, windows, AC, and whatnot break rather quickly.

Find a different car... Toyota's are best, next Nissans. Mazda is down on the bottom with Mitsubishi in my book.

If you do decide to get it, change the oil often, and 400$ for a top seems VERY reasonable. A fun car to drive, well designed car... just not a quality one. People who like them are rabid about it.
posted by KantoKing at 12:36 PM on August 29, 2005

KantoKing: Turbo means transplanted engine, rebuilt means Apex seals and housing

Civil_Disobedient and Phearlez: are these just for the cloth or ...?
posted by trinarian at 5:07 PM on August 29, 2005

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