Time Machines convertible tops installation Rod & Custom Magazine

There's not too many ways to make a more dramatic change in the appearance of any car than to bring the top down a few inches. This change can also make or break the whole build-up. Too much taken out or bad proportions can ruin a car real quick. If you're building a coupe and whack too much you just might have to go searching for another body or at least a donor top. You also need to really have a handle on your metalworking skills to lower the lid. That is unless you want to drop the top on a roadster.

Yet another reason the roadster guys can gloat. A roadster can be chopped in under two hours and if you end up not liking the finished product it can be put back to stock in even less time.

32 Ford Roadster

Although I've always liked a mildly chopped coupe I don't think I would ever cut an original unaltered '32 or '34 coupe. But when I started looking at the '32 roadster that's been in my family for almost 50 years and on the road for 30 in basically the same configuration, I got the itch to give it a different look. While attending the Hot Rod & Restoration trade show in Indy a year ago, I saw a new top that caught my eye. Apparently this new top by Time Machines Unlimited caught more that just my attention because it ended up winning the Best New Product Award.

I liked it because inside and out it still retained the look of a folding top that might have been on the car years ago. This worked well with the roadster's early build-up. The top is designed to work with both a stock body with the stock top mounting posts and fit around the original raised wood tack strip that runs behind the seat. It can also be used with aftermarket bodies without a mounting post by installing their Body Grommet Kit that provides a mounting point.

The instruction booklet that came from Time Machine Unlimited with the top was so complete and well illustrated (one of the best we've seen) that there's no need rehash it here. Instead we'll highlight some of the features of the top and a few of the things it took to install one on this car.

Windshield frame.

I ordered up a new 2-inch chopped windshield frame, a pair of stainless steel windshield posts, and the necessary wing nuts and rubber from Speedway Motors, and then stopped by The Glass House for a windshield to fit. Once I had everything I needed I headed down to see Randy Clark at Hot Rods & Custom Stuff, one of the main dealers for the Time Machine top and followed along as they showed how easy it was to give the old roadster a new look.

When we were done the roadster had a whole new look. After driving the roadster with the new top I was pleased to find that it not only looked good but functioned well. Air turbulence was kept to a minimum inside the seating compartment and the top was not flapping around. I have a few more changes in mind now for the roadster that should give it several more years of service and style.

Cutting windshield glass.

Wrapping glass edges with tape.

Tinted vs. clear glass.

Windshield posts.

Measuring for top.

Masking to protect paint.


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Hot Rods & Custom Stuff - builds, restores, paints, services and sells parts for classic autos, cars, trucks and street rods.