These fitting instructions should be followed in gallery order and not rushed.
The assembly procedure has been specifically simplified for the new Malaysian Hardtop and should be very straightforward to DIY assemble for anyone with basic tools and understanding of safe working practices. Wear eye and face protection when grinding and sanding fibreglass, and wear disposable gloves when using sealant.
The instructions are broken down into individual galleries to show the various stages of installation, and these galleries should be followed one at a time, and in picture order - from left to right.
Most of the pictures are self-explanatory but full descriptions are also added to provide more information.
Many of the pictures in the galleries have annotations, as well as other descriptive details added, so they need to be fully studied before completing each task.
These picture instructions can be used alongside the Youtube installation video (video to follow).
Additional fitting help and advice is available if needed, either by phone or email.
PRE FITTING CHECKS AND ADJUSTMENTS:
Before any work is started, it is essential that any existing problems with door or window alignment, or any other misalignment or panel-fit issues are corrected first, however, the hardtop will become specifically made to fit the individual car and therefore can be tailored to fit around various slight inaccuracies which are typical of a handbuilt car.
Every car is individual and will differ in terms of panel fit and alignment from the factory, but it's worth spending a little time at this stage to ensure that the following areas detailed below are within tolerance to ensure the best possible weatherproof fit of the hardtop. As with ‘all things TVR’ - when stripping the car extra fixings may be found in areas that were not expected, and some may be missing or different to those normally found. These fitting instructions and the description of the work that needs to be carried out is based on experience of a range of Chimaera’s of differing ages, and although these instructions are intended to be as thorough guide as possible, they may not be precisely accurate to all cars. Any feedback regarding the accuracy of these instructions or details of differences found on individual cars is welcome.
Areas to check include:
1. Windscreen and rubber surround –
Ensure the windscreen rubber is fitting properly up to the windscreen glass and that the rubber follows the circumference of the windscreen neatly without any bulges or unevenness which may prevent the Targa roof panel from sitting neatly forward in its fitted position.
Check also that the windscreen rubber is a neat fit where it extends down each side of the windscreen and runs parallel to the polished aluminium door frame – Any tightness in this region will prevent the doors from being adjusted forwards (if needed) and make the door harder to close. If the fit of this rubber is fine then it's best not to disturb it.
2. Door alignment –
Make sure the door alignment with the rear wings is acceptable and make sure the doors are not fouling any other part of the bodywork or rear soft top frame/header when being opened or closed with the windows fully raised. The doors should close flush and neatly without excessive force, and when closed, the top of the door glass must be in contact with the Targa roof seal with even pressure along its length. (See section 4 regarding window height). Ensure that the door hinges are not loose and the doors do not drop when opened. Pay particular attention to the rearmost top corner of the door glass when in the fully raised position and isn't fouling the canvas.
Readjust the hinges if necessary to get the door alignment correct, and readjust the door striker (bolted to the back of the door) to get the closure of the door as needed.
Remember that if a door is too tightly adjusted on its striker and requires slamming to shut, it may also cause the door glass to be a tight fit against the header rubber.
Due to the newness of the new header rubber supplied with the hardtop, any tight fit may put extra drag on the door glass and window motor when the glass is raised and lowered.
The new header rubber supplied with the hardtop can be lubricated periodically with silicone grease to allow the door glass to travel over it smoothly until its newness wears off.
3. Polished aluminium door frame –
Check the fit of the door glass to the Targa roof seal at the very front top corner next to the aluminium door frame when the glass is fully raised. It is common to find the door glass protrudes slightly higher than the top of the polished aluminium frame so that the door glass can contact the Targa seal properly, but this can sometimes create a tiny gap at the very front corner between the glass, the Targa seal, and the top corner of the frame.
4. Window height / Targa roof seal –
Considering the points mentioned above, the windows should create a good fit up to the Targa roof seal. A good way of testing to see if the tightness of the seal is even along the top of the glass is to trap a piece of paper between the raised door glass and the Targa roof seal and then try and slide the paper from side to side along the top of the glass. Any tight or slack spots will indicate where the rubber isn’t fitting as tight as it could and can indicate the likely point of any possible water ingress down the inside of the glass. The Targa roof seal is a push-in fit into a ‘U’ shaped aluminium channel (sometimes also held with spots of superglue to prevent it accidentally being pulled out from its channel) and can be adjusted to fit evenly without gaps by adding or removing tiny washer/spacers under the self tapping screws that secure the channel at various intervals along its length to the underside of the Targa panel. Adjusting the Targa seal and channel for perfect fit requires patience but will pay off with a very weather tight cabin. The stop position that the door glass rises to can be adjusted by turning the adjuster screw with a flat-head screwdriver – found by looking down into the door with the glass fully lowered beyond the weather seal/bristles about half way along the top edge of the door panel. Care must be taken to not force this screw as it may already be at the limit of its adjustment or can often be seized. Another way of adjusting the fully raised position of the glass is to remove the door interior trim panel to get access to the main bolts securing the complete door winder mechanism to the door and move the whole assembly upwards/downwards slightly in its elongated holes. If no window height adjustment can be made within the door, the only remaining way is to adjust the Targa roof seal to suit.
5. Door window movement -
The door windows should travel freely when raised and lowered. Any tightness or ‘slow spots’, or instances of the motor struggling to raise the glass will be exaggerated when the windows are raised and come into contact with the new header rubber fitted to the rear hardtop. The newness of the rubber will create extra drag, particularly if the rear hardtop is a tighter, more snug, weather-proof seal compared to the original worn rubber. The new header rubber can be routinely lubricated with silicone spray to keep the rubber flexible, weather resistant, and lubricated. Furniture polish is also very good at preventing the newness of the rubber causing drag on the glass. In addition to ensuring the electric windows travel freely up and down without any undue resistance, generously lubricate the runners and the felt channel seal inside each door with silicone grease if necessary.
If all the above areas are satisfactory, and the alignment and movement of the doors and windows are good, then these areas must be kept in their current adjustment/positions and left alone.
REMOVING THE EXISTING SOFT TOP:
Disconnect interior lamp wiring from inside the passenger side rear wing – access to this area is gained through the removable carpet flap (secured with Velcro) just above the seat belt reel. There may be a wiring connector which can simply be unplugged, or the wires may be joined by bullet/spade connectors inside the inner wing. When disconnected, the wiring can be pulled out from its hole on the inner rear wing through the carpet.
Remove the boot internal carpeted trim from above the fuel tank to gain access to the rear bulkhead. The carpeted boot trim may be secured by a couple of fixings into brackets on the rear bulkhead as well as the trim panel simply being wedged up behind the GRP boot aperture / rain channel.
Unbolt the aluminium roof struts from the underside of the soft top header.
Remove the fixings securing the rear of the soft top to the rear deck – vertical bolts protruding into the boot compartment on pre 1995 cars, or horizontal fixings on cars from 1995 onwards. Remember to remove any additional fixings if fitted (usually self tapping screws) at each end of the rear soft top lower support panel near the Velcro.
Remove the hex bolt / pivot fixing from each side of the rear header.
The folding rear soft top section should now lift away from the car. Check for any additional missed fixings if not.
PREPARING THE REAR DECK:
On pre-1995 cars, where the soft top is bolted down into the rear deck, the row of unsightly holes will need filling in and smoothing flush to the bodywork. Following this, a neat border can be masked out and sprayed matt or satin black. The hardtop will sit onto this border, so won't be visible when the hardtop is fitted to the car.
Regardless of the year of manufacture, this border can also be used to disguise any previous masking edges on the top of the rear wings that may become exposed now that the soft top has been removed. Using a black border eliminates the need to have the rear wings re-painted to hide any visible masking edges.
The top edge of the carpet inside the body tub needs approximately 25mm cutting away from the edge and the fibreglass surface will need cleaning up to remove any traces of old glue.
Slice the top off the rubber section that is rivetted to the body tub, down to the rivet heads. This allows enough clearance for the deck trim panel to sit in place.
In this example, the Velcro has been fully removed as there is no intention to swap between hard and soft tops in the future. If preferred however, the Velcro can be left in place (to allow future re-fitting of the soft top) and the deck edge rubber fitted up to it.
The next job is to neatly glue the 'L' section deck rubber over the top edge of the deck as shown. Waterproof super glue is being used. Remember to just work in short lengths at a time, keeping the rubber neat along it's length.
Although it may sound cheap, super glue, and in particular the water resistant types now available, have been found to be the best type of adhesive for use on rubber, fibreglass, and other materials that may need joining together on the hardtop assembly.
TEST FITTING THE DECK TRIM PANEL:
Place the fibreglass deck trim into position and temporarilly hold it up to the deck edge using strips of tape.
Get an idea for how this panel will fix to the car. It will be bolted through into the rear body tub and can be cut and sanded to shape if necessary to be flush to the top of the deck edge.
This panel is deliberately laminated with extra thickness to be ground down to suit the individual car. Dont be afraid to make whatever adjustments are necessary to the shape, although it should be 99% accurate as supplied.
Get an assistant to hold the panel steady whilst it is being drilled into the rear deck.
Mark and drill the desired positions of the horizontal fixings that go through into the rear deck (dimples in the fibreglass surface show suggested positions, but make sure these dont correspond with, or clash with, existing fixing holes for the original soft top) – The fixings should be spaced at even/symmetrical intervals along the width of the Deck Panel
Drill through both the Deck Panel and the rear bulkhead - Make sure there is no stereo, speaker, alarm pin-switch or other wiring hiding up in the cavity before drilling through.
When fitting this panel for the first time, apply sealant to the fixing plates as shown (wear disposable gloves as this stage can be messy) and bolt the panel in place - hand tight is enough, don't over tighten.
Leave the sealant to set overnight.
Now that this panel is bolted in place with the captive plates sealed to the bodytub, future removal/refitting will be much simpler and quicker without needing to get a spanner on the hidden side, or require an assistant.
Also, ensure that the bolts are not positioned too high on the Deck Panel resulting in the captive nut plates not fitting on the reverse side due to the thickness of the GRP in the underside of the cavity – a few millimetres difference in the vertical positioning of these fixing holes can make the difference between plates that will fit on the reverse side and those that wont – always test fit the plates dry if necessary to ensure the drilled holes are in the right vertical position. The diagram illustrates the cavity and the clearance needed, as well as the final fitted positions of the Deck Panel and Deck Rubber on the top edge:
TEST FITTING THE HARDTOP SECTIONS ONTO THE CAR:
Now the Deck Panel and Deck Rubber are fitted, the next job is to place the hardtop panels on the car and check how they fit to the rear deck, and up to the windscreen.
Ensure that the short sections of Tadpole section (lower edge of hardtop), and Header Rubber (main flange) are fitted at intervals along their lengths.
These short sections of rubber are just temporary, and will be discared later before the full length versions are fitted on final assembly.
The sections of Tadpole Rubber are secured using a few blobs of superglue. The header rubber sections are simply pushed over the flange.
Offer the panels onto the car - the Targa panel fits up to the windscreen in the normal way. Tape the Targa to the windscreen to prevent it shifting.
Next, place the rear section onto the car and engage it properly to the targa panel. Tape the two sections together to prevent movement.
CHECKING INITIAL CLEARANCES AND FITTING TOLERANCES:
Study the pictures in the gallery below to see how the panels should sit on the car.
It's perfectly normal to have to push the 'C' pillars downwards to make contact with the bodywork. This also ensures that the thin strip of window aperture running across the rear deck conforms evenly to the rear deck shape.
Apply firm downwards, and forwards pressure to the rear hardtop and it should sit neatly onto the bodywork.
ALIGNING AND FITTING THE SIDE ('B' PILLAR) CATCHES:
The gallery pictures show exactly how the catches need to be placed to ensure correct tension.
It is ESSENTIAL that an assistant is holding the hardtop downwards firmly onto the rear wing, and pushing forwards firmly up to the targa panel whilst the side catches are being fitted.
If the pressure is released before the catch positions have been properly marked then it could cause the hardtop to be a slack fit on the bodywork.
Therefore, consistant pressure needs to be maintained by pressing downwards in the quarter light aperture, and pushing fowards at the same time. Ensure that the 'C' pillar is also in firm contact with the bodywork - it may want to lift slightly whilst pressure is applied in the 'B' pillar area so check for this before finally marking the position of the 'B' pillar catches.
Fitting the side catches is pretty self-explanatory, but DO ensure that the lever is open at 45 degrees when marking the fixing holes - this creates the correct amount of tension when the hardtop is latched down to the car.
Additionally, the side catches DON'T hang down at true vertical - they're positioned at 90 degrees to the top of the rear wing - therefore, the side catches are actually angled slightly towards the rear of the car. Also ensure that their fixing holes dont clash with the large stainless steel fixing bolt.
PREPARING THE TOP HAT SECTIONS AND STAINLESS MOUNTING BRACKETS:
The top hat sections provide the mounting points for the aluminium struts, and also cover the join in the carpet material. They need to be carefully positioned so they sit nicely on the carpet and follow the shape of the underside of the hardtop.
The gallery pictures describe how these Top Hat sections need to be fitted.
ALIGNING AND BONDING THE 'TOP HAT' STRUT MOUNTING PLATES TO THE UNDERSIDE OF THE HARDTOP:
After preparing the fibreglass surface - on the underside of the hardtop, and also the Top Hat Mountings, the bare fibreglass can either be brushed with SIKA 215 clear primer, or brushed with a coat of 2-pack paint to create a good bond for the Polyurethane sealant.
The gallery pictures describe the exact procedure.
SETTING THE STRUT PRESSURE AND ADJUSTING THE REAR ('C' PILLAR) CATCHES:
DO NOT OVER ADJUST THE STRUTS - They only need the same amount of pressure as used with the original soft top to keep the targa panel seated nicely up to the windscreen.
The strut pressure can be adjusted by moving the stainless steel brackets in their elongated slots.
Set the pressure so they only require the same amount of force to put them into their locked-out positions as was necessary with the original soft top.
In extreme cases, if the strut pressure is too high, the targa panel will be seated properly as far forward as it will go, and the extra strut travel will be forced upwards (instead of pushing the targa panel further forwards) which may stress the outer skin of the hardtop around the Top Hat mountings.
When the correct forwards pressure is achieved, disengage them again as shown in the picture and allow the hardtop to settle back down onto the bodywork.
Use an assistant to press downwards firmly on the 'C' pillar. Now line up the rear catches with their hook plates. Mark and drill the hook plates into position.
When fitting the rear hook plates to the Rear Deck Panel remember to space the hook plate away with a rubberised washer (roofing washer).
Use a nyloc nut and washer on the reverse side.
Adjust the rear catches so the handle is open at 45 degrees - this creates the correct amount of latch tension.
The rear catches are adjusted by slackening the two Philips screws and shifting the catch on its elongated slots.
Move the aluminium struts back into their locked-out position and check the operation of all the catches. They should all be equal in terms of the effort needed to engage them.
TAILORING THE FIBREGLASS SIDE FLANGES TO SUIT THE CAR:
This is one of the most important stages and shouldn't be rushed.
It will involve griding away the fibreglass flange which will create dust. Wear eye, face, and ear protection, and mask out the vehicle to protect the interior from dust and fibres.
The hardtop MUST be properly clamped to the car as detailed earlier, with all catches engaged and the aluminium roof stuts locked-out.
The first job is to mark the slight overhang above the door aperture. This needs trimming back to line up with the door aperture. As shown in the picture, mark a pencil line to show where the hardtop needs trimming back to. The hardtop needs removing from the car to do this to avoid damaging the rear wing.
With the hardtop properly fitted, now close the doors, with the windows fully raised, and draw a pencil line straight down the flange following the back edge of the glass.
Measure forwards 25mm from this first pencil line. This is where the flange needs cutting back to in order to be parallel to the door glass.
Remove the hardtop from the car to an area where the flanges can be safely cut back to their marked lines.
The next stage of flange grinding requires the hardtop to be securely attached to the car.
Engage all catches and roof struts.
Mask out the vehicle interior as shown.
These side flanges are deliberately laminated extra thick to be ground down to suit the car.
Push a section of test-fit header rubber over the flange. It will be a tight fit until the flange is gound down to suit.
The fibreglass will need grinding away on the outer face to relieve the pressure on the rubber and get the compression about half way on the rubber bulb.
When grinding the flange, it also needs to be ground so that it tapers inwards slightly towards the centre of the car as described in the diagram.
Remember that the door glass has a very slight curvature, the flange needs grinding to mirror this slight curvature.
When the flanges have been succesfully tailored to the car, unlatch the hardtop, shift it rearwards slightly, and draw a pencil line to create 10mm clearance so the flange doesn't foul the rear deck panel as pictured.
The final picture in the gallery shows the face of the 'B' pillar (highlighted with red crosses). This is the face that the side window bonds to, however it is likely that this surface will also need grinding down to create a gap for the sealant. Test-fit the perspex window into the aperture and check the depth of the gap.
The window MUST NOT be bonded tight up to this face - a cushioning bed of sealant is essential, therefore the face of this 'B' pillar must be inset from the glass level (measured from the INSIDE surface of the door glass NOT the outside) by around 3-5mm.
The top and centre of the 'B' pillar face usually have good clearance without further grinding necessary. It is usually the bottom of the pillar that needs a few millimetres grinding away to create enough clearance.
FINAL PREPARATION BEFORE PAINTING:
At this stage, the vast majority of the work is complete, and the hardtop will now be at it's final exact shape - tailored for the car, with no further grinding or invasive procedures to be done.
Preparations can now be made for paintwork, but first check the following areas to get the best results:
If the screen rubber isn't a perfect fit up to the targa panel, any slight gap can simply be filled in and the edge re-primed.
Ensure the ground faces of the flanges and 'B' pillar are re-primed in 2-pack.
Ensure the rear window is masked in such a way as to avoid any overspray getting through the gap and onto the inside face of the window or internal trim carpeting.
Before painting, remove all sections of test rubber from the hardtop edges. The tadpole section pieces glued to the lower edge need carefully pulling off but be careful not to damage the fibreglass, if they are stubborn use a sharp blade to slice them off and then clean up the flange where the glue has been by abraiding the surface with 80 grit paper.
FITTING THE FULL LENGTH TADPOLE SECTION RUBBER TO THE LOWER EDGE OF THE HARDTOP:
After painting, and subsequent drying time, the full length section of tadpole rubber can be glued to the lower edge of the hardtop.
Use waterproof super glue and work in short manageable sections at a time.
Get the rubber following the lower edge neatly without any obvious bulges or uneveness.
REAR DECK PANEL, FINAL CHECKS BEFORE TRIMMING IN VINYL:
Give the rear deck panel a final check before preparing to trim in vinyl to match the door tops - make sure the shape is flush to the top of the deck. Grind / sand away any high areas.
When covering the deck panel in vinyl, ignore the cut-out (above the side fixings) and stretch the material over to span the gap. The cut out is to allow the Rear Deck Panel to sit down in place properly without fouling the top of the door aperture seal. The vinyl spanning the gap will stretch into position when the panel is fitted.
Fit the large elastic loops onto the rear deck panel as shown. The hidden side of the elastic loop must pass ABOVE/BEHIND the fixing bolt - this prevents it being pulled out in use.
SETTING UP THE TARGA PANEL SEALS AND RETAINING CHANNELS:
The targa seals are fitted into a retaining channel which is screwed to the targa panel with self tapping screws. There is usually a spacer strip fitted beneath the channel with the remaining fine adjustment done by adding additional small washers or other packings to bring the seal into good contact with the top edge of the window.
The diagram illustrates how the seals, channels, spacers / packings are arranged.
PAINT THE 'B' PILLARS MATT BLACK:
FITTING THE FULL LENGTH HEADER RUBBER:
BONDING THE LOWER EDGE OF THE REAR WINDOW TO THE APERTURE:
PREPARE THE ENDS OF THE HEADER RUBBER:
TAILORING THE CANVAS FLAPS TO DROP DOWN INTO THE DOOR APERTURE:
TEST FITTING THE SIDE WINDOWS:
PREPARING THE WINDOW APERTURES AND BONDING THE SIDE WINDOWS INTO POSITION: