Caring for a car’s cloth top

November 1, 2015 | By Staff


I just bought a recently restored 1941 Buick Super convertible coupe. I know how to protect the paint and chrome, but I have no experience taking care of cloth convertible tops. Is there some good way to protect them from the elements? I am afraid to take the car out except on fine days. Are there any tips you can offer?


Never park under trees, and carry a soft cloth and spritzer bottle with soapy water for emergency situations such as bird droppings or sap, because they must be removed as soon as possible. Also, take along a clear plastic tarp and clothespins to cover your car’s top if you have to leave it unattended for long, or have to park in a hazardous spot.

Regularly vacuum your car’s top using a drapery attachment, and brush it with a stiff brush to get the dirt out of it. If a cloth top is not visibly dirty, you can just go over it with wide masking tape to lift out dust. Marks and dirt streaks can easily be removed using an old-fashioned art gum eraser.

Canvas tops should be scrubbed with mild, non-detergent soap such as Ivory or Lux and warm water, and rinsed thoroughly. Do not use detergent for this task. Work in the shade and let the top dry thoroughly before covering it.

Some show car owners never put the top down to avoid unsightly wrinkles. However, if you want to enjoy top-down touring, when you put the top back up brush it, and then slightly dampen it and put it in the sun to pull out the wrinkles.