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Hardtop.

Last year (2014) I found a hardtop for an Austin-Healey 100/4. There is very little information regarding these hardtops available on the internet. I did however "discover" that this was a Universal Laminations hardtop with the wrap around windscreen. In september 2013 I found another hardtop. This is also a Universal Laminations hardtop but this is the one with the smaller window. I prefer this one to the other.

From what I have understood is that these hardtops are quite rare but it is strange however that I came across two of them in a year without even actively looking for them.

UL1-1 UL1-2
Universal Laminations hardtop version 1 "Small window".

UL1-3 UL1-4
Universal Laminations hardtop version 1 "Small window".

UL2-1 UL2-2
Universal Laminations hardtop version 2 "Wrap around window". It looks like the mask of a diver.
For more pictures click here.

Sep-2013 Sep-2013
The hardtop that I bought is in a bad condition. 60 years old but still alive.

There was a lot of damage on the front of this hardtop. Almost all of the wood beam at the front was gone and large portions of the glassfibre was simply missing. The outer and inner surface of this hardtop was not smooth, it looked like the landscape on the moon. This was some very crude GRP craftsmanship. Because this hardtop is 60 years old I anticipated the GRP was rotten (and it was) but to see such bad lamination of the GRP really struck me. The brackets that were bonded in were also very crude. What a mess!

Hardtop Hardtop
Front section where a wooden bow should be. Both corners gone.

Hardtop Hardtop
Right and left lower sections with brackets. Riveted with aluminium rivets. Rather crude.

Hardtop Hardtop
Overall inside view. Looks like a rather large section was replaced. This section is also quite old, if not, just as old as the rest.

I started the restoration of the hardtop by making a new front bow out of wood. The bow is curved with the radius of the windscreen and lies flat on top of the windscreen. This bow is 25 mm thick and I laminated that bow in the hardtop. I laminated an area of 20 cm before the bow on the inside to create some flesh on this front section to hold the wooden bow. I then grinded the front section away from the top, leaving the new lamination on the inside to fix the wooden bow. I then was able to laminate the top of the hood with fresh fibreglass and this recreated a complete new front section. Much better!

Next step was to remove all the old pieces of wood inside the hardtop and remove all the old brackets. At the back there are two brackets that should slide inside the hood catches where the softtop bar normally resides. On each lower corner, near the back of the doors, there is a bracket to fix the hardtop to the brackets inside the car where the softtop frame is normally fitted. On the front bow there are two bolts with nuts to fix the front of the hardtop.

Hardtop Hardtop
"Hood catch" for the front and brackets.

Because I have a kitcar where there is a filler for the petrol tank on the rear deck this hardtop should be provided with a recess. An original Austin-Healey 100 has the petrol filler inside the boot. To fit the hardtop I temporarily removed the filler cap from the rear deck. I tried the hardtop if it would fit the bodywork. Apart from some minor adjustments at both lower corners at the doors it fitted perfectly. Very good.

Hardtop Hardtop
A Haldane HD100 fitted with this hardtop. Note the recess for the filler cap.

Hardtop Hardtop
New front section created. Filling and sanding started. What a dust! It's like restoring a TVR....

Hardtop update.

I started the process of grinding, sanding and painting in order to achieve a good finish. This is the first attempt using spray cans. I wanted to see if the hardtop would have a good finish. It doesn't. I need to do some more work to get all the curves perfect. Especially the roof of the hardtop is not correct. I find it very difficult the get a correct shape, with correct flowing "lines" in bright sunlight.

Paint1 Paint2
Simple spray to achieve a glossy finish. This allowed me to check if the surface and shape are correct.


Paint1 Paint2
I have gone through the process of filling, sanding, painting this *&#$$#!!## hardtop so much times I lost count. At some point in time I decided the finish of the thing to be satisfactory. I am afraid though that it will still show some imperfections.

Paint1 Paint2
This is the final outcome of the restored hardtop. No recess for the petrol filler, this hardtop is too rare to modify it for a kitcar. I will sell it eventually so it will find its way to an original Austin-Healey 100/4.

Paint1 Paint2
A rubber profile for the bottom edge, windscreen rubber and aluminium profile and rubbers for the door apertures. New headlining. Looks stunning on the car...

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