Now that my car is a full track car, I really miss the days of old when I could’ve put the top down at ease. I still like to do some sessions with the hardtop off and to drive around town on a nice morning, but it’s kind of a pain to remove the solid brackets that I have. While it’s only a few bolts it is still hard to get it to line back up just right when putting the hardtop back on. I know the OEM latches are an option, plus a few others like Forbidden/etc., but I don’t really like spending a lot of money on things I don’t “need”. I really wanted a budget solution.
This is what I ended up using:
My previous 1-piece hardware (not sure of brand)
Butterfly latches from McMaster PN 1406A45
#8 screws McMaster PN 92949A194
#8 locknuts McMaster PN 91831A009
Random washers I had laying around
Total cost was around $40 not including the brackets I already had. Here are some steps to recreate what I did. Total time was around an hour total. Really easy mod.
Here are the hardtop brackets before I did anything to them. I think these are “street” brackets since they have the bottom right hole, but I never used that since I removed all of my softtop.
2. Quick mockup of what I plan to do.
3. Take the butterfly latch and mark the three mounting holes. I just used a sharpee. No need to be super precise since the holes are oversized.
4. Drill the three holes that were previously marked. I started with a 3/16” bit, then stepped up all the way to a 1/4”.
5. Bolt down the butterfly latch using 3 screws, washers, and nuts. I went ahead and tightened them down here.
6. Install the female bracket and mark the two holes as we did earlier.
7. Repeat the drilling steps the same as before.
8. Now bolt down the female bracket.
9. Actuate the butterfly latch and make sure it can get in the fully tight position. If not, then just loosen it and wiggle it down some. This is why I opted to have oversized holes, in case some adjustment was needed.
10. Use a ruler and mark a straight line across the adapter. This is where we will be cutting the brackets in two.
11. An angle grinder made quick work of my brackets. All I did after cutting was lightly sand the sharp edges.
12. And voila - installed!
Initial thoughts are pretty good. It’s not quite as tight as the single-piece bracket, which is to be expected, but it did not rattle or anything on me. I pulled and tugged on my hardware and couldn’t get it to come loose. This item has no load case on it, and there is not much lift at all (latches are rated to 400lbs), so I am not worried of them failing in any way. My first hardtop I bought I actually drove home with just the front latches and it didn’t rattle, so I think these will work just fine.
I will most likely waterjet a lower bracket to center the latch just to satisfy my engineering brain, but that’s for another day. If there is enough interest, I can make a kit for folks.
Hope this helps!