1957 t-bird soft top install

jack-in-sac

Well-Known Member
Can a soft convertible top be installed fairly easily on a 1957 t-bird that only came with a hardtop? If so, what is the average cost of a new soft top?
In short yes.
In 1957 you could order one or both tops. All Thunderbirds were built with the ability to use either top. I am sure you have noticed that on the rear deck the plate that is used to lock down the rear of the top uses only one of the two holes on each side. the other set of holes are for the convertible top. I do not know why that is just the design. when you look on the floor behind your seat you should see on each side two studs. those studs are for mounting the swing bar for the convertible top. It is not necessary to use them but without a swing bar the top does not fold up and swing down. Otherwise the top is very heavy to manhandle around. Prices vary. If you want the highest quality I believe Jewell is the source.
good luck , J.
 

2from93449

Active Member
Depends how much you want to spend. Minterr will be very expensive for an authentic top. Another option is the repro top from Prestige Thunderbird in SoCal.
 

ThunderKip

Active Member
Hi WEL, My 56 came only with a hard top from the factory and I wanted to have a soft top to raise and lower as needed. I ordered a repro top and the swing arm assembly and it came with all attaching hardware. It took only a couple of hours to install and adjust. I purchased it from Hills Thunderbird in Ohio about a year ago. It took about six weeks to get it from the time ordered, but that may have been due to it being a custom color. -Kip IMG_2096.JPG
 
Hi WEL, My 56 came only with a hard top from the factory and I wanted to have a soft top to raise and lower as needed. I ordered a repro top and the swing arm assembly and it came with all attaching hardware. It took only a couple of hours to install and adjust. I purchased it from Hills Thunderbird in Ohio about a year ago. It took about six weeks to get it from the time ordered, but that may have been due to it being a custom color. -Kip View attachment 11892
What was the (rough) cost?
The folks in TX seem to be quite proud of their tops....
Thx
George
 
Can a soft convertible top be installed fairly easily on a 1957 t-bird that only came with a hardtop? If so, what is the average cost of a new soft top?
I did on mine. It is not too hard. Most of the aftermarket kits are simple bolt on.
I also have a old Triumph it did the top on that car twice in the 30 years I have had it. Job was about the same

Do the job on a warm day...let the top sit in the sun a couple hours while you bolt in the frame. Makes it softer and lays better.
The springs on the kits are strong. Be careful w them.
In total it was about 2000 to do it if memory serves me right. Was about 5 years ago....

Lastly...the clamps on the top will dig up the cardboard on back of your seat if not careful.
I made a cover for them.
 
In short yes.
In 1957 you could order one or both tops. All Thunderbirds were built with the ability to use either top. I am sure you have noticed that on the rear deck the plate that is used to lock down the rear of the top uses only one of the two holes on each side. the other set of holes are for the convertible top. I do not know why that is just the design. when you look on the floor behind your seat you should see on each side two studs. those studs are for mounting the swing bar for the convertible top. It is not necessary to use them but without a swing bar the top does not fold up and swing down. Otherwise the top is very heavy to manhandle around. Prices vary. If you want the highest quality I believe Jewell is the source.
good luck , J.
Having removed both tops, I think the soft top is as heavy as the hardtop. I was able to carry the soft top from my garage to my basement by myself, for safe storage. The hardtop, however, although not too heavy, is awkward, requiring two people to carry it.
 
Having removed both tops, I think the soft top is as heavy as the hardtop. I was able to carry the soft top from my garage to my basement by myself, for safe storage. The hardtop, however, although not too heavy, is awkward, requiring two people to carry it.
One the the soft top was installed it has not been removed since. ....the hardtop is on a 1 inch pipe rack I made hanging from the rafters in the garage over the Bird.. Hasn't been on the car since...i just keep it.. Been sitting about 10 years.
 

Ward 57

Well-Known Member
One the the soft top was installed it has not been removed since. ....the hardtop is on a 1 inch pipe rack I made hanging from the rafters in the garage over the Bird.. Hasn't been on the car since...i just keep it.. Been sitting about 10 years.
Oh dude, You need to drop the top and enjoy the cockpit with the lid on. Plus to let the seals settle a bit if not just over the winter. A whole nother experience. I also hang my top from the rafters during the summer but over the winter it looks good on the car before I throw the cover over. Stow the rag top behind the seat with the cover and know it's there but classy.
 
Your right....i should put it down and on. Just grab the 16 year ond boy to help me and take him for a cruise. I might let him drive.....slowly.
 

Ward 57

Well-Known Member
OMG, what a learning experience. Let him drive it with the top down and then with the lid on. Show him how top notch the technology was at the time. No GPS just maps in the glove box. You had to pay attention and think by the seat of your pants. Old school thinking can still thrive in this new tech world. My power just went out for over a day but I had my old Coleman gas stove and lantern in my garage to get by on. Would these kids have any idea how to use or even light them in this day and age?
 
He has worked on car with me...rode w me a bunch of times....gonna go out in country and have him drive a few miles.....weather is really nice this week.
Its his reward for doing a great job w schoolwork.
He loves the Bird. Looking forward to it. Pass on the Bird someday to him.
 

jack-in-sac

Well-Known Member
Like Jim P, once I got a soft top the hard top has been in a rack for about 20 years. Have driven to Oregon, Washington, Canada, New Mexico, Arizona up and down California. with the soft top. Big fun!
 
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