Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Know Your Convertible Top Fabrics: Canvas vs. Vinyl

Canvas Convertible Topping Material
At Auto Tops Direct, our commitment is to customer satisfaction and high-quality products. That is why we provide you with numerous material options for replacement convertible tops to fit every style – and price point. Thanks to our relationship with top industry supplier Haartz, the leading manufacturer of fabric to automakers, we confidently stand behind the quality and durability of each of our fabric options. However, we know that sometimes all of those choices can be overwhelming and it is hard to know which choice to make. Today, we will break down a few of our premium topping material choices and highlight their features and benefits!


  • Appearance: Most convertibles originally were manufactured with canvas soft tops, so canvas options like Haartz Stayfast cloth topping material will more closely resemble that classic look convertible drivers love.
  • Durability: Although canvas is the more delicate of fabric choices, with proper covered storage during harsh winter months, it can be kept looking its best despite the elements.
  • Noise: Although convertible drivers typically prefer to drive with the top down and the wind in their hair, we know that sometimes this is not an option. For those concerned with a quiet ride, canvas is the preferred material, as the wind tends to bounce more noisily off of a vinyl roof.
  • Cleaning: As convertible drivers ourselves, we have experienced first-hand the groans that tend to come out when we see that bird droppings or tree berries have stained our canvas soft tops. While it is easier to wipe away such stains from vinyl tops, with the proper upkeep and help from products like our Raggtopp Fabric Cleaner and Protectant Kits, even canvas tops can look their best for years to come.
  • Price: There is no way around this sometimes-sensitive subject – canvas convertible replacements are more expensive than their vinyl equivalents. However, many drivers are willing to pay the extra $100+ to achieve the look that they want for their car.


  • Appearance: Although vinyl material doesn’t have that classic look of many vintage cars, it was the original topping for many American convertible models from the 1950s all the way into the 1990s. For those drivers looking to restore their beloved cars to an original look and feel, vinyl is a great choice.
  • Durability: In this competition, vinyl takes the prize and can withstand significantly more wear and tear from Mother Nature than canvas can.
  • Noise: Vinyl tends to be a noisier fabric than canvas, but with the roof down and the wind in your hair, that should be of no concern!
  • Cleaning: For convertible owners that hate cleaning up pesky stains and spills from their soft tops, vinyl is the perfect choice. Wiping away debris and droppings is a breeze with a simple cleanser product, especially if you use a good protectant as a precaution
  • Price: Vinyl is a great choice for car owners looking to revive the look and feel of their convertible without breaking the bank, and can be significantly cheaper than premium canvas options.

We understand that replacing your soft top on your convertible is a significant investment, and ideally you should be getting 7-10 years of use out of that replacement convertible top. Sometimes, cheaper alternatives make claims of premium quality at a low price point, and then do not deliver. We believe that choosing the proven, trusted material is your best bet. Don’t take our word for it, though – visit our website to read all of our 5-star product reviews from shoppers like you!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Our Five Favorite Affordable Convertibles

As we begin to segue into the early stages of spring, we can’t help but think of driving with our tops down, feeling that warm breeze on our faces. To some, this may seem like a dream … but it doesn’t have to be! Though convertibles were considered luxury cars in the past, there are more affordable options today. We’ve compiled our five favorite affordable convertibles on the market today by weighing their style, reliability, safety and performance. Take a look at some of 2015’s least expensive convertibles, and start envisioning yourself driving one of these this spring.

1. Ford Mustang
The Ford Mustang is one of the most highly-rated convertibles out there. Don’t let its classic American muscle car aesthetic fool you. It comes fully equipped with a powerful, modern V6 engine and extremely agile handling. The new and improved cabin on the 2015 Mustang convertible makes all the difference, and features a beautiful, yet nostalgic design. It received an overall 9.0 rating according to U.S. News & World Report, and can be purchased for an average base price of under $25,000.

2. Mazda MX-5 Miata
Sports car enthusiasts will love the 2015 Mazda MX-5 Miata. Its sleek body maneuvers well and supports athletic handling. It features a four-cylinder engine, which might seem like it’s a less powerful model, but there’s no shortage of pep in this sporty convertible. If you’re looking for a car that allows you to feel the excitement of the open road, the Mazda MX-5 Miata might be the right car for you. While the interior of the cockpit is slightly smaller than most convertibles, it is still roomy enough for two passengers. It garnered an overall 8.6 rating from U.S. News & World Report, and its average base retail price starts out near $25,000.

3. Audi A3 Cabriolet
Yes, Audi can still make affordable cars! While Audis are usually considered expensive luxury vehicles, the A3 Cabriolet is still on the least expensive convertible list. However, this model still offers many of the features as a best-in-class luxury vehicle, which is reflected in its higher base price of approximately $36,000. The interior features real leather-trimmed seats and a quiet cockpit. The car comes extremely well-equipped with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an easily manageable top.

4. Mini Cooper
Mini Cooper has come a long way since debuting a revamped look on American soil back in 2002. The company is steadily making its way into the hearts of many Americans. The newest Mini Cooper convertible is definitely one of the best buys on the market today. It comes in a four-seat or a two-seat option. Both offer turbocharged three-cylinder engines and come with a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. So, while the car offers a lot of pep, it’s also very fuel efficient. If you don’t get caught up in all of the extra features and settle for the base model, the Mini Cooper convertible could cost around $25,000.

5. Volkswagen Beetle
The Beetle is one of those cars that most people adore for its retro, feel-good style. When you think of a Volkswagen Beetle, you think of beach buggies and fun. Combine that with a convertible and you’ve got yourself a beautiful automobile. The 2015 Volkswagen Beetle convertible is one of the cheapest convertibles on our list with a starting base cost of around $20,000. Its stylish interior and iconic exterior paired with an 8.8 safety rating make this car a good deal for those looking for an affordable convertible. However, the base model lacks the impressive fuel economy and more powerful engine found in other Beetle models.

Affordability no longer means a lack of quality. Which car would you like to drive most? Tell us in the comments below!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Our Favorite Movie Convertibles

Many of our favorite cinematic moments have a convertible in them. Whether it’s a hero’s sidekick, the villain’s getaway car, a hot girl in a hot car, they have one thing in common: they became iconic. We have assembled a list of notable cars on the big screen that make us want to pop back the convertible top and go for a drive:

Source: Paramount Pictures
Grease (1978) - 1949 Mercury Custom
It’s no surprise that the 1950’s set musical Grease features a 1949 Mercury Custom called ‘Hell’s Chariot.’ The signature convertible with flames painted on the side might as well have been considered a major character in the film, from its initial assembly that inspired a whole musical number to revving up the engine and coming out victorious in a drag race against a rival clique. Go greased lightning!

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) - 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California
What’s a perfect day off without a hot shot ride to cruise around in through the city of Chicago? That’s exactly what Ferris Bueller thought when he convinced his pal Cameron to take out his father’s 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California. This is a car cherished so much that it is regularly kept on display in an all-glass garage.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) - 1935 Auburn 851 Speedster
As if Indiana Jones himself didn’t already provide us with enough thrill escaping collapsing temples and avoiding his demise, the 1935 Auburn 851 Speedster kept us even further on the edges of our seats. When Indy’s sidekick, Short Round, goes for wild rides including speed chases with the soft top down, watching the movie we could feel the breeze.

Thelma and Louise (1991) - 1966 Ford Thunderbird
This critically acclaimed road movie left audiences speechless when heroines Thelma and Louise drove off a cliff into the Grand Canyon in a vintage green 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible.

Scarface (1983) - 1963 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible
Business was business for Tony Montana in Scarface, and his yellow 1963 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible was not an exception. The convertible, used frequently for pulling up to business drug deals, becomes an icon of this film in itself especially next to an Al Pacino in an all-white suit.

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) - Ferrari 308 GTS
The Ferrari 308 GTS, famously driven by supermodel Christie Brinkley, is a convertible so notable that it is cast as a character in National Lampoon’s Vacation and reprises its role several times throughout the National Lampoon franchise. It’s hard to say if Clark was more tempted by girl in the convertible or the convertible itself.

The Birds (1963) - 1954 Aston Martin DB2/4 Drophead Coupe
Though Hitchcock’s masterpiece The Birds is known for the bizarre behavior of birds attacking humans, it is also recognized for the appearance of the 1954 Aston Martin DB2/4 Drophead Coupe. The last scene we see in the movie is the Aston Martin driving through a scenic shot to what we hope is safety.

The Graduate (1966) - 966 Alfa Romeo Spider 1600 Duetto
Mrs. Robinson wasn’t the only one doing the seducing in this classic. The appeal of the red 966 Alfa Romeo Spider 1600 Duetto is almost as irresistible as the infamous character herself. The famous appearance of this car inspired a model of the Series 3 Spider to be dubbed “The Graduate.”

What’s your favorite movie car? Let us know in the comments below!