GM "Scissor Top"
1971-1976 Hideaway Top Problems?
GM Convertible Top Operation and Troubleshooting
A NEW CONVERTIBLE TOP DESIGN
The convertible body style was very popular from the early days of the automobile until the mid- to late sixties, when sales began to drop off due to an increase in highway driving and the introduction of sporty new hardtop models. The popularity of vinyl roofs, which simulated the appearance of a convertible with the top up, and the comfort of factory air conditioning and stereo sound systems also contributed to the decline of the convertible body style.
In 1971, General Motors (GM) introduced a new convertible top design for some of its cars that they named the Hideaway Top. This design differed from previous designs in the manner in which the top side rails folded while lowering the top. Previously the side rails collapsed straight back, accordion style, which required a smaller width rear seat to allow space at each end for the top frame components with the top folded. This also created a more compact area for rear seat passengers, and usually required shorter rear seat side arm rests which meant less elbow room for rear passengers.
The new design, often referred to as a "scissor top" was engineered so that the side rails moved inward, toward the center of the top as it lowered, which meant it was no longer necessary to allow room at the sides of the rear seat for these components, as they now stacked behind the rear seat with the folded top. In addition to increased rear seat roominess, appearance was improved as the boot was able to sit nearly flush with the car body.
APPLICABLE MAKES AND MODELS
GM used this design for its convertible body style from 1971-1976 on the following full sized makes and models:
1971-1973 Buick Centurion
1971-1976 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado
1971-1972 Chevrolet Impala
1971-1975 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale Convertible
1971-1972 Pontiac Catalina
The final day of production for factory convertibles of this era:
PARTS AND PART NUMBERS
Top Motor (GM Part 22049793, Interchange 5405632)
Links to current eBay auctions are provided in the right column to assist you in locating parts. We've been able to find many rare, obsolete, NOS (new old stock), NORS (new old replacement stock), and reproduction parts on that site over the years. We recommend you check the seller's feedback before bidding or buying, and don't forget to provide feedback on your experience after your purchase, as it helps to identify sellers who truly do value your business, as well as those who don't. (We normally recommend dealing only with sellers who have a high feedback rating.)
CONVERTIBLE TOP COLORS
Factory top colors varied with the year, make and model of the car. Black and white were offered on most of these cars, and could be ordered with any exterior color.
Black, White, Light Beige, Dark Blue, Dark Green, and Dark Brown were available on the Eldorado for 1971. Dark Green and Dark Brown were eliminated for 1972, but a new color, Covert (a medium gold shade), was added, and those colors remained the same for 1973. In 1974, Light Beige was replaced with Sandalwood, Covert by Maize, and Amber and Terra Cotta were added. For 1975 you could also get Graystone, Yellow, Dark Red, or Orange. Amber, Terra Cotta, and Maize were dropped. In its final year, the Eldorado convertible top added Dark Blue-Green, Firethorn, Buckskin, and Ivory to the list of colors, and parted with Orange, Yellow, and Graystone.
TOP OPERATION—LOWERING TOP
1. To lower the top, first check the top well behind the rear seat for articles that could interfere with or damage the top as it folds down into the area. Lower both sun visors and all side windows.
5. Depending on the model, either a hard or soft boot was provided to cover the lowered top. (The Convertible Hard Boot was a new $40 option for the 1972 Eldorado.) The soft boot installs by sliding the rear edge of the boot under the chrome molding near the base of the top, with snap retainers on the sides, and with velcro along the front edge. The hard boot comes in two pieces, with a storage bag for use when not installed on the car to prevent paint damage. The passenger side of the hard boot must be installed first, beginning with placing the rear edge of the boot under the chrome molding at the forward edge of the top well. The driver's side then attaches in a similar manner, and fits under the passenger side boot where they meet in the center. Two chrome rings hold the front outboard edges firmly in place. Consult your vehicle's owner's manual for more specific installation procedures.
TOP OPERATION—RAISING TOP
1. Remove boot, if installed.
Top Stops Moving During Operation (Raising or Lowering)
The circuit breaker could be tripping, which interrupts the power supply to the circuit by design. This will cause the top to stop before completely raising or lowering. Usually, after a period of time, the breaker will reset itself and allow you to complete the raising or lowering process. The breaker itself can go bad, or another electrical component can draw too much power, resulting in the breaker opening. Check to see if the top switch gets warm when operating the top. It's somewhat common for the switch to go bad. A loose connection, corroded or loose ground, or a damaged wire can also be responsible.
(More diagnosis and repair tips coming soon.)
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
CLEANING THE TOP MATERIAL
(These instructions are for convertible tops made of vinyl, not the canvas or cloth type.)
Clean the top in a shady area out of direct sunlight, and make sure the top isn't warm to the touch from sun exposure. If it is, let it cool completely before cleaning. There are commercial products available designed to specifically clean and care for convertible tops, but mild soap and water usually do a good job as long as the top hasn't been neglected. We don't recommend using dish washing detergent, as this can strip wax off of painted surfaces.
Wet the top with cool water, and apply the soap in a circular motion to a small section using a clean soft sponge, towel, or mitt designed for washing an automobile. Allow it to sit briefly to break down dirt or organic matter that may be on the top. Apply more soap and rub in a circular motion again to remove the grime that has been loosened, then rinse thoroughly. Continue until the entire top has been cleaned. If you notice any areas that are still dirty, apply more soap and gently scrub the area using a soft nylon brush. Vinyl upholstery cleaners may be necessary for badly soiled or stained areas, and if you choose to use them we recommend you follow the instructions provided for their use. The brush can be used to work the cleaner into the textured vinyl, but make sure you don't allow the cleaner to contact chrome or painted areas for very long, as it can also remove wax or discolor some trim.
Allow plenty of time for the top to air dry before lowering it.
- 1972 Cadillac Owner's Manual