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Outstanding Contributor , Bob's Your Uncle!
-----'83 280 SL----- 5 speed....The PIG
29,497 Posts
Discussion Starter #1


Many members here on the 107 forum have participated in the accumulation of information and experience concerning purchase and installation of a 107 soft top.

The main top replacement thread is quite long and full of secondary conversation.

I would like to keep this thread as "information only".

Links to the primary threads will be provided and feel free to comment there.

If I leave anything out.....feel free to post the information here with a link to the primary thread or website.

In the interest of keeping things in order, if you have information for a specific post, please PM me and I will edit it in where it goes.

Outstanding Contributor , Bob's Your Uncle!
-----'83 280 SL----- 5 speed....The PIG
29,497 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Soft Top Purchase Information

**There's many soft-top manufacturers and resellers, I did not research them all.

Most practice what we call in French "flou artistique" in their statements, an artistical somewhat out-of-focus form of speech. Like calling the fabric "German, "factory", or saying "first-grade" plastic windows, etc. If you look up the sites, this form of speech is practiced by most, from the cheapest to the most expensive.

A cat is a cat, and a dog a dog.

There is only one replication, and only one, of the original OEM R107 fabric. It's called "Sonnenland Classic" made by Haartz. It's a two fiber weave (cotton-polyester I think) and too expensive-marginal to bother to copy as is.
There are fakes. Some are good, but should be stated as such, and sold at a much lower price.

There is currently a better fabric, the post-1994 or so Twillfast-Sonnenland A5 (Twillfast is the name used for US cars, Sonnenland for Euros), which has a black-only dobby backing ie a black-only correct pattern inner lining. Reputedlly, this lasts longer than Sonnenland Classic.

The regular Twillfast with correct brown dobby is also reputed excellent.

Sonnenland Classic is reputed to look nicer than Twillfast.

I'm of the opinion that both Sonnenland Classic and Twillfast will last a long time, most probably so than the plastic windows. So, it's between price and looks for the outer fabric.

Only one supplier confirmed that he used a high-quality brand-name plastic for his windows: ARO 2000. I think that this is a decisive factor: many fabric tops can be seen to be in VGC but for their windows.

ARO 2000 uses "Ultralite" by O'Sullivan USA and swear by it. It's a product used by car manufacturers, not only aftermarket. OK, but it seems that Bayer Flexglas 9120 (I think, the one used on BMW Z8s) is better and suppliers should do some research.

So, do business with whoever you want, but before you order, have it confirmed of what, EXACTLY, your top is made of. "German" and "high-quality" is not enough.

My personal choice...

I hesitated between ARO and Prestige tops.

Unfortunately, I asked, no begged, for Prestige to confirm fabric and plastic used. They declined to name the products they use. Note that I stated in a previous report that they used Bayer et al. Flexglas (r) for their windows. That's before I discovered that Flexglas is like Kleenex, a brand name used to describe similar products. I asked Prestige to confirm they used Bayer et al. Flexglas(r) -an excellent product- and they declined. Too bad, because they did seem more thanOK, at a great price. But if they deem their clients unworthy of info, so be it.

In the end, only ARO 2000 provided complete, precise information about their product. Mr. Georgi answered each and every of my questions. They get my vote, and they'll get my money.

In closing:
1-you other soft-top suppliers, wake up and inform us consumers.
2- If you want to charge us more than 30-50% the average, tell us why EXACTLY.

To W107etc., Stayfast is a pefectly good fabric, some come with the dobby liner, not as good as Twillfast or Sonnenland. You should use Sonnenland if you want the real look.
Personnallly, I don't think that good brand-name fabrics will deteriorate very quickly: the windows will go first. Double-check that they use brand-name plastic for the windows. If they won't say, don't buy. OOPs, I forgot about the shop in Montreal. I'll check for you...

To Roncallo: some top manufacturers use computers for patterning and cutting, use Sonnenland fabric, excellent quality windows, real dobby lining, poly stitching with HF fusing, and sell for less than 500.00

Others do presumably the same, but do not say so, and charge double. Others, while not outright lying, are so imprecise that anything goes.

The top business is a quagmire.

GAHH has an excellent reputation, but there is not sufficiently precise info to justify the price premium.

**I received an email from a French supplier who doesn't give a flying fuck about the North American market.

Here's what he says: there is Haartz "Sonnenland Classic" as the best fabric, that's it that's all. Anything that is not described as being "Sonnenland Classic" by name could be a Turkish-Polish what have you copy that is or is not of as good quality, you can know for some by touching, others you cannot. These fabrics must be sold at a very serious discount compared to Sonnenland Classic, a very serious discount.

He also told me that the current iterations of Sonnenland Classic such as Sonnenland 5, Twillfast II, etc., are too stiff for R107 tops.

So there you go, don't buy "German", "OEM", buy the real stuff. It's no more expensive.

Outstanding Contributor , Bob's Your Uncle!
-----'83 280 SL----- 5 speed....The PIG
29,497 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)

There are many sources of soft top replacement instructions and videos.
Please PM me if you have a link for inclusion.

Mercedes W107 450SL 380SL 560SL convertible top instllation instructions

* Protect car with fender covers or blankets to avoid damage to finish.
* Tape protection over inside and outside of plastic window on new top.

*Protect both sides of plastic windows to prevent scratches.
*Cover trunk & hood with protective blankets
*Unlatch and release back rail & lid.
*Unlatch header bow and retract frame for better access to weatherseals and retainers.*

Top Removal
* The front horizontal door glass weatherseal and vertical retainer assemblies are removed as follows.
* With a wedge or flat screwdriver carefully remove the rubber seal from the retainer.
* Old or deteriorated seals may tear or not seal properly . If replacement is necessary, order #107-2199 .
* Next remove the seal retainer held in place by phillips screws.
* The vertical door glass rubber weatherseal & retainer are removed in the same manner.
* Check the seal for serviceability, if replacement is necessary order #107-2200.
* Next remove the flat head phillips screw & cup washer lying behind the vertical seal retainer.
* The vertical flap can now be peeled from the vertical frame member.
* Repeat the process for the other side.
* The header bow weatherseal & retainer are then removed.
* Inspect rubber seal for serviceability, if replacement is necessary, order # 107-2196.
* Peel the top away from the header bow, pliers will aid in the separation.
* Remove the chrome screws & cup washers from sides of header bow, these screws are also used to secure the side tensioning cables to the frame.
* By carefully applying a solvent to the listings, the adhesive can be softened and the listings are then easily removed from the bows.
* With most of the deck and vertical flaps now free, loosen the nut that secures the side cable and pull the cable from the frame. The back bow listing can now be removed from the frame.
* Raise the rear frame rail to the vertical position, start the removal of the rubber weatherseal from the retaining rail by twisting the seal inward and away from the rail while simultaneously pulling the interlocking lip from the groove with a hook tool.
* Be careful not to damage the seal with this tool.
* The remainder of this step can be completed without the use of this tool .
* Inspect the seal for serviceability, if necessary replace with # 107-2198.
* Remove the flap from the rail, begin separation of the two by using the hook and continue by pulling the flap.
* Pliers may be used if necessary.
* Clean all surfaces of old adhesive.
* Inspect top straps for wear or discoloration, if replacement is necessary, order # 107-3056.
Before installing the new top it is critical that the bow height be checked and if necessary be reset to factory specifications.
This is especially important on older cars which may have had several replacement tops.
* This is done with the frame up and the top locked into position.
* The dimension of the exposed cable between the rear rail and the back bow should be 17 1/2 inches.
* Readjust the cable if necessary.
Top Installation
* Set the new top into position on the car, check that everything is in order and that window and car protection are in place.
* With the front rail in the vertical position apply contact cement to the underside of the rail.
* Apply the cement to approximately 2/3 of the channel at each side of the locking pin.
* Contact cement can now be applied to both the right rear and left rear retainer flaps.
* The adhesive should be concentrated from the seam to approximately 1 1/4 inches outward on the flap to insure an adequate bonding to the retainer rail will be made.
* While allowing the contact time to set up and become tacky, a dry run on setting the top to the rear rail should be made.
* Start by centering the top to the rail.
* The seam on the skirt of the top is positioned directly on the edge of the rail.
* The top is pulled around the rail so that the notch in the flap meets the end of the rail, the skirt will flow in a smooth continuation of the rail and meet the body of the car.
* Fit the skirt along the edge in short segments forming a relatively flush extension of the rail.
* When satisfied, use a blunt stuffing tool to push the flap into the channel.
* Using this procedure continue setting the top along the rear portion of the retaining rail.
* Using a blade or scissors, trim away any excess flap material from the channel.
* Apply contact to the side sections of the rear retainer flap, both left & right side.
* Once the cement has become very tacky, set the rear side portions of the top on the rail, remember the notch in the flap goes flush with the end of the rail.
* Again, once you are satisfied that the skirt is a flush continuation of the rail, place the flap and using the blunt stuffing tool apply pressure to permanently set the flap into the channel.
* This procedure is repeated for the other side.
* Again trim excess if is necessary.
* The key to a trouble free installation at the front of the top is keeping in mind that the front bow and listing stitch are your reference points when gluing the top to the header bow.
* Apply contact cement to the header bow and front of the top.
* When setting the front of the top to the header bow begin by straddling the listing over the front bow and make sure the corner is properly positioned.
* Work your way across the front, keeping the stitch and bow alignment uniform while placing the top to the header bow.
* Go to the opposite corner, and place the remaining portion of the front to the header bow.
* Remember the stitch should be positioned uniformly over the first bow.
* Continue to check and reposition as necessary.
* Once you are satisfied with the front of the top, install the cable screws in the header bow.
* Using an upholstery pin locate the exact position in the top that will align the screw with the cable eyelet and the hole in the header bow.
* Once this has been found, mark the spot and with a punch make a small hole in the top.
* Pull the side cables thru the pockets with the strings provided. If the strings have been removed, use a wire pull to fish them thru.
* Put the chrome phillips screw through the screw eyelet, through the top material the cable eyelet and into the header bow. Apply contact cement to the underside of the header bow, at the ends and along the front edge of the header and deck.
* Once the contact cement becomes tacky use a blunt tool to set the front of the top to the underside of the header bow.
* Apply contact cement to the underside of the front side flaps and set into place.
* With the front corners now in place apply contact cement to the outer side of the front side flaps and to the horizontal door glass seal.
* Allow time for the glue to set up and place the seal into position.
* When fitting the top under the header bow the excess material is removed by making two relief cuts.
* The first cut is made along the deck seam and should stop about 3/4 of an inch from the leading edge.
* The second relief cut will be near the end of the header bow, work the excess material into a pleat.
* Make the second notch cut leaving about 5/16 inch of material from the apex of the cut to the edge of the header bow, trim the reinforcement as well.
* Apply contact cement to the pull tab you have just created and pulling it inward toward the center of the header bow, cement the tab into place.
* Contact cement can now be applied and the remaining front of the quarter glued into place.
* The front of the top is now ready for final trim.
* Make sure enough material is left so that unfinished edge of the top underlies the weatherseal retainer and not beyond.
* The retainer screws should fall about 3/16 to 1/4 of an inch inside the trimmed edge.
* Re-install the header bow weatherseal retainer.
* The weatherseal is held into the retainer by an interlocking lip.
* Using a blunt tool work the seal back into the retainer.
* Apply adhesive to the end of the header bow and the weatherseal.
* Press the end of the seal into place.
* Install the horizontal door glass seal retainer.
* The weatherseal is interlocked in its retainer with a blunt stuffing tool.
* Thread the side tension cable through the hole at the top of the vertical frame member, route it around the stud and bring it back through the lower hole.
* With the pliers, pull the cable taut and tighten the cable stud nut.
* Cement the pull tab to the vertical member by applying contact cement to both surfaces and pulling the tab tight enough to properly position the binding to the edge of the frame then set the tab.
* With the upper and lower side corners set, apply contact cement to the vertical frame member and vertical flap.
* The extra material has been left at the bottom of the flap to bridge the gap between the bottom of the vertical frame member and the body of the car.
* Glue and fold the material forming a seal of sorts which lies on the body.
* Trim the excess material.
* Set the vertical flap into place on the frame using a blunt stuffing tool to press it firmly into the corner then trim the excess flap material.
* Use a pointed tool to find the hole in the frame member for the flat head screw and eyelet.
* Make a hole for the screw, install the screw and eyelet.
* Locate and make the necessary screws holes for the retainer.
* Install the vertical door glass seal retainer with the retainer screws.
* Now install the vertical door glass seal, again interlocking the seal lip into place with a blunt stuffing tool.
* When attaching the listings to the bows, keep in mind that the unfinished portion of the listing is wrapped around the bow first and the portion with the folded finished edge is installed last to provide a nice finished look and avoiding unsightly frayed edges.
* Protect the top from overspray and apply contact cement to the bow and the unfinished listing edge.
* When the adhesive is tacky, wrap the listing around the bow and smooth it out.
* Apply more adhesive to the covered bow and finished edge.
* When adhesive is tacky wrap listing around the bow in the opposite direction.
* Smooth out the listing and repeat the procedure for the remaining bows.
* Remember the unfinished edge is wrapped first followed by the folded edge.
* With everything else in order the rear retainer can be raised to the vertical position for installation of the rubber seal.
* Interlock the lip of the rubber seal into the channel using a blunt stuffing tool and work the lip into the channel.
* Start the installation from the center and work toward the end.
* Latch the top into position.
* Use contact adhesive to glue the horizontal side seals which* have been provided in the space between the door glass and the horizontal flap.
* Remove tools and protective coverings.
* Check for excess adhesive and clean off with solvent.

Installation video available to buy:

Mercedes Benz instructions:


Outstanding Contributor , Bob's Your Uncle!
-----'83 280 SL----- 5 speed....The PIG
29,497 Posts
Discussion Starter #5

Removal of the soft top and clean up.

So, here I go.
The top needed to be replaced due to age, tears and general disintigration. I also have taken the opportunity to change the colour to tan.
It seems that the top has been changed at least once already as the one I took off was not very well done and there was WAY too much glue.
I am using phone advice from the vendor...New Page 2, World Upholstery instructions
and the MB manual job # 77-305
I am ready to install the new top after 8 hours of removal, clean up and various adjustments and repairs.
I suggest taking the old top off as carefully as possible as it can be used for reference during the install.
Speedy 500 adhesive remover
Old aircraft cabin windows cut into various sizes for scraping
Green Scotch Brite
Lots of rags
5 lbs of elbow grease

Old top.....


Outstanding Contributor , Bob's Your Uncle!
-----'83 280 SL----- 5 speed....The PIG
29,497 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Removal and Clean Up Continued......

Removal continued.......


Outstanding Contributor , Bob's Your Uncle!
-----'83 280 SL----- 5 speed....The PIG
29,497 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Clean Up


Outstanding Contributor , Bob's Your Uncle!
-----'83 280 SL----- 5 speed....The PIG
29,497 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Preparation For Installation

**Anyone know the signifigance of the nylon straps and elastics that go from bow to bow to bow?

My elastics aren't anymore and the straps are loosish.,
Don't know if I should tighten the straps and replace the elastics.

**The nylon straps P/N A 000 983 14 12 03 9002 space the frame and give the top essentially a side stringer for the canvas to bend over without sagging in between the frames. You need two of these. The elastic strap are what get the frames to accordion correctly. Just enough tension to get it going. If you dont have these you will need to manually fold one of the frames in when your folding the top.

The elastic is no longer available but it is available in most fabric stores. You can probably get and equivalent of the nylon webbing in a fabric store as well.

**I found out that one 2 meter strap is all you need. EPC says 1200mm per side but the straps are actually less than 1 meter each so you only need one of P/N 000 983 14 12 03 9002 and you just cut it in half.

**I set my strap tension by making a mark 4" shorter than the relaxed position mark. Thats about 1/2 of the elastics useful extension


Outstanding Contributor , Bob's Your Uncle!
-----'83 280 SL----- 5 speed....The PIG
29,497 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
New Top Pre-Fit

Prefit the new top to actually make sure it is cut and sewn correctly and to also mark the location of the seals that fall over the doors.
Some top suppliers include these seals already installed on the top.

Use painters tape (Green Tape or Frog Tape) and paper or plastic to cover the exterior windows. Use another type of tape at your peril........other tapes might leave behind glue residue.


Outstanding Contributor , Bob's Your Uncle!
-----'83 280 SL----- 5 speed....The PIG
29,497 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Above Door Draft Seals

The placement of these seals (if not installed by supplier) is kinda important.

Pre-fit the top, slide the seals under to get the approx. location, mark the top and go find a clean flat surface to work on.

I used 3M 1357 glue.

The first coat on the canvas needs to be HEAVY to allow it to soak in, rather than dry on top.
The second coat can be lighter. Allow the glue on the top and seals to dry to touch.

Remember it is called contact cement for a soon as it is there for good.

**Installation of draft seal above doors. This should be done before throwing the top on the car. It requires an agressive contact cement.
The seals should be clean and scuffed.
The first coat of glue on the top should be HEAVY so it soaks in rather than dry on the top.
Two coats each.
Once dry, install, and use a roller to make sure the contact is good.
I did not glue the last 1.5 inches at either end yet as the cables still need to be installed.

**I found out my top came with side seals. Not genuine MB but they were included in the box. I included a picture to show the difference. the MB seal on the right is a more closed cell butal. Maybe its good I didn't know they were in there. I kind of try to stay with MB parts especially rubber.


Outstanding Contributor , Bob's Your Uncle!
-----'83 280 SL----- 5 speed....The PIG
29,497 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Seal pics continued.......


Outstanding Contributor , Bob's Your Uncle!
-----'83 280 SL----- 5 speed....The PIG
29,497 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Rear Bow adjustment and Cable Install

While the glue is drying, the rear bow cable needs to be installed and correctly adjusted.

**Install the aft cable such that the required 17.5" of cable is exposed between the rear header and the aft most bow. Note this aft most bow is free and the rear cable and straps essentially control its position. So for now just get the 17.5"

**With the front locked down and the rear pin engaged, but not pulled down set the rear bow strap length so that the cable is tight. Note that with the rear pin in the loose position, the tension may end up too tight when pulled down. It might be best to have someone hold the crank such that the rear is half pulled down when the strap and cable tension is set.

**The World Upholstery installation instructions, which may have been based on the Robbins video say the rear window wire should have exposed length of 17.5" . I just measured my car (which has a Robbins top) and the wire is 17.0".

Did y'all check and set the wire to 17.5"? Did it work out or did you have to tighten it back up?

**I finally got the balls to crank the top down. Looks good.
The rear cable has slacked up.
It was tight as a violin string (to paraphrase Strife) at 17.5 inches.
Now it needs to be tightened again and I will lose the 17.5 inches.

**On my old Robbins top, the exposed wire length was 17" (later increased to 17.25"). The distance that they specify would have been about 17.5-18.0". Maybe they meant from bottom of rear rail to center line of bow - that would be about 20".

NOTE: When finshed and locked rear bow cable measured 17.25 inches.


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