Friday, April 03, 2009

Jaguar Journal #4 - Dispelling Drop Top Myths

This post is written to educate and inform. There is a popular ''myth'' out there and it has been posted by several people on many Jaguar forums, that leaving the convertible top in the down (open) position on an XK8/XKR can have a detrimental impact on the top fabric. I've heard everything from - ''Leaving the top in the open position will cause holes in the fabric, tears in the fabric, extra wear on the fabric'', etc, etc. Over a year ago, I set out to test these theories, especially since I live in a place where I can drive an open convertible car 24-7, for months and months and months on end. First, I contacted a few aftermarket convertible top manufacturers. I asked the question and sought answers (in writing): ''Will leaving the convertible top in the open position cause any known harm to the fabric on an XK8?'' All answers fell along the same lines - not much specific information was known about the XK8, but all answered that they knew of no car models of any kind that would experience fabric damage by leaving the top open. One manufacturer stated, he thought more damage to fabric could occur just from raising/lowering the top, and keeping it in the closed position. This is because there is a lot of ''rub'' of the stretched and stretching fabric as the opening/closing operation is in progress, and a closed stretched fabric top exposed to many different elements including sun is much more harmful than with the top open and protected in the rear body panel. Next, I decided to conduct a ''field test'' even at the risk of damaging the top on my own XK8. Since approximately a year ago, I've driven my XK8 for several extended periods of time with the top open. The last test ended today. I've had the top opened with the tonneau cover in place since December 1st, approximately 5 full months. Today, I closed the top for the first time since then. There is simply no fabric damage of any kind anywhere on my top. This is the third such long-term test, the least time of which was over a month. BTW - the owner's Vehicle Care Handbook does have one admonishment regarding light colored convertible tops - leaving the top in the open position for long periods could lead to permanent ''soiling'' along the fold lines. I take it that this condition could occur if the top is opened while it was dirty in the first place, and probably under conditions of high humidity. My top is light colored and shows absolutely no signs of soiling. Then again, my top is not really allowed to get dirty. Based on these tests, I am concluding that - NO damage will occur to the fabric on your convertible XK8 by leaving it open for extended periods of time. In fact, since the hydraulics are not exercised nearly as much as it will be if you overreact to these rumors, probably less damage will occur to the fabric by leaving the top opened for extended periods, and certainly it will not suffer from sun damage. Sun damage to the interior is, of course, another matter. SO, drop that top, enjoy the fresh air and don't worry about it!

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