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Vinyl Roofs: Tasteful or Gouche?

Like many styling touches features, such as the
spoilers on today's cars, vinol roofs could enhance
the styling or ruin it. The factory installed
ones frequently dressed up the cars, in my opinion,
while some of the after market and dealer
installed roofs, such as on some Cadillacs and
Lincoln Town cars, look absolutely aweful.

What's your opinion? Styles often return; will
the vinol roof ever come back?
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Comments

  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    I think on todays cars Vinyl (anybody know how to spell that?) on the roof has pretty much been replaced with a cloth similar to dyed canvas. Its more attractive, more durable, and more expensive. In my opinion, Lincolns and Cadillacs (and maybe the Grand Marquis, depending on the color) benefit the most from these "luxury tops" Although I did see a T-bird similar to mine with such a top on it. (Vinyl on a T-Bird-who'd have thought?). Personally, unless you put something like that on a Mustang or a Truck, I'd don't think there's too many vehicles it will actually ruin the appearance of, however, in the case of that red Contour with wire wheels and tan cloth top I saw the other day, you can insure no one else has a car just like yours. (As much as they spent on luxuries for that tiny little Ford, I would have forgone some of the customizing and bought a Crown Vic!). One rule for Vinyl and cloth tops-Get the top color different from the body color, but don't get colors that clash (ie-orange Grand Marquis with Navy top is UGLY-I don't care if that's your school colors!)
  • rea98d, Vinyl may indeed be the correct spelling, and I may have misspelled gauche also. I used the spellcheck below the message, and it didn't pick up on the misspellings regardless of which variation of these two words (vinyl and gauche I used). Interestingly, though, it highlights "spellcheck" as misspelled, even though that's the way it's spelled on the spellcheck access itself. Strange. In any event, shame on me for using words when I'm not sure of the spelling.

    Can a grammarian help out here?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,043
    Yes, it's gauche, taken directly from the french word for "left", as in left-handed, and therefore meaning awkward or clumsy or lacking in social grace (sorry, left-handers, that's what the dictionary says).

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  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    I would describe that red & tan Contour I saw as "lacking in social grace." Unusual, maybe, but it did kinda look nice.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,043
    I guess the idea of vinyl roofs is to harken back to the days when hand-built luxury cars actually had richly upholstered roofs that folded back. Somehow, cheap vinyl and a fake chrome hinge doesn't cut it for me. I think everything on a car should be real and should actually DO something. If the scoop doesn't scoop and the vent doesn't vent and the spoiler doesn't spoil, leave the damn thing off. The Great Shiftright has spoken (pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!)

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  • Might as well shut this topic down for lack of interest, Shiftright.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,043
    Thanks, mminerbi, but lets' give it another week or so.

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  • prophet2prophet2 Posts: 372
    Chrysler had those "White Hat" promotions: cars with white vinyl tops. One of the "Dodge Girls" on the TV campaign in the late '60s was actress Cheryl Holdridge, an ex-Mousketeer.

    I had a '68 Sport Satellite 2-dr HT from the lowly Plymouth division: electric blue w/full white top. Looked sharp and a lot better than some of the "half-top" efforts by Ford (T-Bird) and Lincoln. Mine never cracked and it saved me a lot of time and elbow grease by not needing a periodic wax job on the roof. Others had horrible rust problems when water got under the "skin."

    Later had a beige '72 Dodge Swinger with a black top: 318 auto, 2 dr HT.
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,359
    I am no fan of vinyl roofs - think they look like they are trying to be something they are not. They also make it more difficult to maintain the appearance of the car. The roofs that really drive me nuts are the "convertible look" roofs. Some of these are done very well in that the car really looks like the roof ought come down until you notice that the material works into the doors.

    Now I really like convertibles - drive one myself, but why would you want to look like one? My theory on convertibels is they have one advantage over other cars - the top comes down!!! Why on earth would you want the top to LOOK like it could come down when it doesn't??
  • bobs5bobs5 Posts: 557
    I remember when Great Flags amusement park originally opened up in N.J.
    We went through the safari section, (took 3 hours, bumper to bumper traffic all the way, and 95 degrees that day), and many cars with vinyl roofs were peeled off by the monkeys. Should have seen the looks on the peoples faces...a kodak moment!
    After a while the park banned cars with vinyl roofs from the safari section.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,043
    Man, I would have loved to see how they wrote up the insurance claims...."I was driving north on Safari Way, when suddenly I heard this noise on the roof of my car. Looking up, I was surprised to see seven small...."

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,744
    Some sixties cars just don't look "right" without a vinyl roof. Some T-Birds, Lincolns and Cadillacs come to mind.

    Because, the majority of these cars had these roofs, it seems out of place to see one without one.

    They were rust traps in some cases, especially on GM cars under the rear windows.

    In So. Calif we didn't have too many monkeys, but after ten years or so, the sun would take a toll.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,043
    Some of the cars you mentioned have tall roofs, and I think the vinyl tends to make them look smaller to the eye, hence the improvement.

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  • rea98drea98d Posts: 982
    Shifty, you seem to like features to actually do something, so I'd guess you like the cars from the 80's. I personally don't see a problem putting totally useless features like tail fins and vinyl roofs on cars. It gives them a little distinction, and with all the retro styling going on, I'm surprised the carmakers haven't brought the tail fins back. I have a car with a vinyl roof (or at she least did have until she got in a fight with a bob wire fence), and happen to like it. Having seen the same model without one, I think it happens to give it a little luxury and personality. While it may not be functional, it does look nice. After all, how much fun can somebody have in a sportscar with all the charisma of a Toyota? Not to say you can't take a good thing too far (like I'm probably doing with this post at this point). I saw a yellow full sized Chevy, flareside, fiberglass bed cover, spoiler, and a Black vinyl roof! Somebody took the idea of customization a bit too far out into the deep end IMHO.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,043
    I think the best judge of what is good design is Father Time. If you look at most 80s cars now, they look pretty dreadful, but people seem to like the 60s stuff a lot, it's holding up better to the test of time.

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  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    A local mechanic here who owns his own shop ia also an old car [especially Cadillac] guy. No Cadillac after 1970 is worth a damn, in his opinion. His daily driver is a restored '67 Coupe DeVille, bronze with black top. The original vinyl top was removed-and I have to say I think it looks better without the vinyl top. But then I never liked vinyl tops anyway. Shifty, I know you're just waiting for Chrysler to "refine" the Viper with a vinyl top and Rolls grill, then you'll jump on it right...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,043
    I look at the Viper the way WC Fields looked at Mae West. He described her as:

    "A plumber's vision of Cleopatra".


    She had a lot of curves and bumps going every which way, as you might recall from old movies.

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  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    Saw Mae West's old '35 Cad V12 Town car at a recent concourse...even had room for the plumber inside.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,043
    I'm sure she HAD the plumber inside!

    She did everything in a big way...WC really hated her.

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  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    I'm reminded that this car had one of the original covered "formal" tops-in black something. I know it wasn't vinyl-what did they use then-fabric? Leather? Anyway, I think that old Caddy is one of the few cases where a covered
    top is fitting. And of course, the privacy of that roofline for old Mae...........
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,043
    Most were leather, but I think they did have synthetic fabrics at that time, but mostly for the fabric bodies they built (like Weymann). The old cars were not very durable if you exposed them to weather or rough roads.

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  • The last car on which every part was strictly functional was the Model T. At the height of its popularity, THOUSANDS of accessories were sold for it, many strictly decorative. "Chrome" trim and vinyl roofs fall in this category. Consider this comparison: You live in a house. It has walls. On these walls you probably hang pictures. What FUNCTION do these have? Do they help hold up the wall? Of course not. Decoration is decoration. It makes one car different from the next. The kind of styling that a car has, inside and out, is part of what gives it the character of its time. Think how boring a '58 Buick would look with out the hundreds of pounds of chrome. We remember the '59 Cadillac for its outrageous fins rather than its dynamic qualities - though these were as good as any car of the time. Can you honestly say an undecorated Corolla is better for its alleged functionality than the '59 Cadillac?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,043
    True, but no sense gilding the lily...if the car is already beautiful by design (not a Corolla), it doesn't need anything. In fact, I think a good way to judge whether a car has good design is to strip it down to the body, take off the wheels, and pile it in a junkyard...if it still looks good, it probably is a classic design that needed nothing else. It's the rare car that improves by sticking more things on it, but occasionally that is the case--a piece of trim here, a vent there, can make a difference...but Landau bars and vinyl roofs--that's much more rarely an iimprovement, IMO.

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  • vinyl tops looke dok on cars like early 70's Monte Carlos and Ctlass Supremes.
    Any car after 1980's or so looks ridiculous with a "flashback" carriage roof.
  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    I just remembered a used car lot in San Jose, CA in the 60's that was putting vinyl roofs on 55 Chevy 2doors, and selling them at a premium [for the time.] A friend and I were cruising this lot one day, looking at the "creations." There were several 55-56 Chevs with vinyl roofs, and some other 50's cars with same. The salesman didn't appreciate our comments and finally told us to
    "get our fxxxing xss out of there." We saluted as we left.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,744
    A 55 Chevy with a padded vinyl top?

    Was the salesman wearing a plaid coat and white patent leather shoes?

    Once in Oakland, I saw a lowered 78 or 79 Lincoln Mark 5 with a green astro turf top. He even put the astro turf on the phony spare tire hump on the trunk!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,043
    WEll, at least he didn't have to mow that huge lawn!

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  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    That Mark 5 with the astro turf reminds me of the cars I saw during the 4 years I lived in Oakland. I'd bet that guy driving the Mark used it to corral his evening "ladies" [we're talking pimp here] and was wearing a yellow suit with an astro turf wig and white shoes to match. I used to get a few parking tickets when I lived in Oakland, and every time I went downtown to pay them, I'd see these outlandish Marks and Eldorados cruising the area, which was the prime "trick" part of town...
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,744
    Glad you're back from the hospital. Sounds like no fun...!

    I worked in and around the Oakland area from 1978-1981. Saw a lot of unique cars.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,043
    There's a wonderful Karmann Ghia with tail fins running around in Oakland...I'm dying to get a picture of it.

    That was no pimp, that was an undercover cop! (You can always tell because they wear white socks).

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