1956 Soft Top installation difficulty

Joined
Jan 14, 2021
Thunderbird Year
None
I am looking at buying a 1956 which has a hard top from the factory. Can I easily fit a soft top ? There do seem to be kits on the market. Any advise welcome. Thanks.
 

jack-in-sac

Active Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2018
Thunderbird Year
1957
All 1955, 1956, and 1957 Thunderbirds were built to mount a hard to or a soft top. If you look behind the seat you will find 2 studs on each side for mounting the swing arm that allows behind the seat storage for the soft top. Only very early 1955 cars may have a single hole deck plate for securing the rear of the top. all others will have a two hole plate that allows either top to be mounted. Additionally the windshield header has the cup shaped mounts for securing the front of either top as does the mounting plate on either side of the drop curtain area for securing either top to the sides. Although a swing arm assembly is not necessary for use of a soft top you will find it is invaluable for using the top. When you purchase a top make sure you get the swing arm assembly with it. After market soft tops are available through any of the Thunderbird specialty suppliers. Additionally Jewell makes a reproduction that meets factory specifications.
good luck to you. when we bought our '57 a bit over 25 years ago we had only a hard top. We purchased an after market soft top with swing arm and have used it ever since. Our top while purchased from Councours Parts was drop shipped from Prestige Thunderbird parts as the manufacturer. This is the only aftermarket soft top I have personal knowledge of and can recommend.
 
Joined
Jan 1, 2021
Thunderbird Year
1955
All 1955, 1956, and 1957 Thunderbirds were built to mount a hard to or a soft top. If you look behind the seat you will find 2 studs on each side for mounting the swing arm that allows behind the seat storage for the soft top. Only very early 1955 cars may have a single hole deck plate for securing the rear of the top. all others will have a two hole plate that allows either top to be mounted. Additionally the windshield header has the cup shaped mounts for securing the front of either top as does the mounting plate on either side of the drop curtain area for securing either top to the sides. Although a swing arm assembly is not necessary for use of a soft top you will find it is invaluable for using the top. When you purchase a top make sure you get the swing arm assembly with it. After market soft tops are available through any of the Thunderbird specialty suppliers. Additionally Jewell makes a reproduction that meets factory specifications.
good luck to you. when we bought our '57 a bit over 25 years ago we had only a hard top. We purchased an after market soft top with swing arm and have used it ever since. Our top while purchased from Councours Parts was drop shipped from Prestige Thunderbird parts as the manufacturer. This is the only aftermarket soft top I have personal knowledge of and can recommend.
You are looking at spending $2000-$3000 for a ready-to-use soft top.

It is not uncommon to find one or more of the four mounting studs broken. my soft top was retained by 3 studs. One was broken, and another was loose. I had to drill and tap the broken stud and inset a new stud. I used JB Weld on the loose stud.. A 90-degree drill/adapter is needed when drilling out the broken stud. There is not a lot of room to work in, but my seat and soft top were removed.
 
Joined
Dec 3, 2020
Thunderbird Year
None
I've been looking for quite a while at '55 - '57 baby birds and I've found one that check off all my boxes, except it has no soft top. I assume the cars came from factory with all the needed hardware to add the top, but I have no hands on experience.

Can you tell me if that's the case and what I might expect to spend on purchasing the frame and installing it on a beautiful Sunset Coral '56?

Thanks in advance.

ps: if you'd like to give me you top three things to look for in the purchasing process, I'd love to see them.
 
Joined
Aug 12, 2021
Thunderbird Year
1955
I've been looking for quite a while at '55 - '57 baby birds and I've found one that check off all my boxes, except it has no soft top. I assume the cars came from factory with all the needed hardware to add the top, but I have no hands on experience.

Can you tell me if that's the case and what I might expect to spend on purchasing the frame and installing it on a beautiful Sunset Coral '56?

Thanks in advance.

ps: if you'd like to give me you top three things to look for in the purchasing process, I'd love to see them.
The bows are available and they are not cheep! The tops can be made from scratch or a kit purchased from (avoid Robbins) aftermarket kit producers. FIND SOMEONE WHO HAS EXPERIENCE WITH 55-57 TOP INSTALLATION!!! Mine just got out of the shop and I am on the cusp of a lawsuit!
 

Ward 57

Active Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2019
Thunderbird Year
1957
The bows are available and they are not cheep! The tops can be made from scratch or a kit purchased from (avoid Robbins) aftermarket kit producers. FIND SOMEONE WHO HAS EXPERIENCE WITH 55-57 TOP INSTALLATION!!! Mine just got out of the shop and I am on the cusp of a lawsuit!
I'm just wondering how they could screw it up that badly. It's not technically difficult but a hassle.
 
Joined
Dec 12, 2020
Thunderbird Year
1956
I am looking at buying a 1956 which has a hard top from the factory. Can I easily fit a soft top ? There do seem to be kits on the market. Any advise welcome. Thanks.
Original, used soft tops are usually available from some of the Tbird parts suppliers. Prestige, CASCO and Hill's might have ones for sale as they deal in used parts as well as restore TBirds. The best ones are late 56 and 57 tops. Prestige has a replacement top which is very serviceable but is not an reproduction
 
Joined
Dec 12, 2020
Thunderbird Year
1956
I've been looking for quite a while at '55 - '57 baby birds and I've found one that check off all my boxes, except it has no soft top. I assume the cars came from factory with all the needed hardware to add the top, but I have no hands on experience.

Can you tell me if that's the case and what I might expect to spend on purchasing the frame and installing it on a beautiful Sunset Coral '56?

Thanks in advance.

ps: if you'd like to give me you top three things to look for in the purchasing process, I'd love to see them.
Original, used soft tops are usually available from some of the Tbird parts suppliers. Prestige, CASCO, Minter and Hill's might have ones for sale as they deal in used parts as well as restore TBirds. The best ones are late 56 and 57 tops. Prestige has a replacement top which is very serviceable but is not a reproduction. Any year top will fit any year Tbird, but there is different deck mounting hardware, all which are available. The Prestige top does use the original type fastening hardware.
 
Top