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I'm getting near finished in my project to remove my sunroof, convert the car to hardtop specs, so that the car will be approx 30 lbs lighter (up top) for my autox hobby. Here's some pics and comments as the project developed:

I wanted to convert to a hardtop, received many suggestions as to how to do it, most were good, but some just too expensive. $3k to change over by welding in a new roof at the pillars, no way. With budget constraints, I found a method working with a small body shop that would be reasonable in cost, structurally adequate, and look hopefully good (not quite).


This is the donor car at the picknpull. Its a celica hardtop, but all the bracing, mounting points, wiring is identical to the supra. Pretty hard to find a hardtop when you need one, I managed to pull the headliner off this too. We cut off the roof section to bring to the body shop.



Cordless Sawzall is awesome. Its amazing how thin the metal in all the pillars was. Cut the roof off with just one battery pack, one blade (we brought 4 batteries, 4 blades, I tend to be over-prepped).

I removed the headliner from my car, then dropped the sunroof and pan as a single unit. Pretty easy, except the caulking around the sunroof panel to the underside of the roof was pretty tough. Prying it away without bending the roof was a challenge, but once it started pulling away, it was easy.



These pics are of my sunroof panel in place. 4 drain tubes going out from each corner. Fortunately, I never had a blockage in the drain, so rust was never an issue.


This is my car with the sunroof panel removed. Notice the lip around the sunroof opening. Double metal, and folded too. This would have to be cut away to be single layer and flat.

Ok, so the body shop preps my sunroof opening by removing the extra layer of metal, cuts away the 90 deg lip too. The end up with a flat, rectangular opening, then use a tool (never saw it) that puts a "L" shape lip around the edge of the opening. Like a little ledge that is about 1/16" lower than the roof surface. Then they used the donor roof we got from the picknpull, and using a plasma cutter, cut a panel that dropped down onto the "L" ledge, glued, and spot welded into place. Some bondo stuff, wet sanding, and the outer surface of the roof was pretty smooth.



These pics are of the donor panel installed, some bondo applied, more wet sanding still.



Here's some pics of the underside. I haven't installed the headliner for hardtop yet, needs some repair of the fabric. You can somewhat see the lip creadted by the machine to drop the sunroof panel onto. A few spot welds spread apart. Not a lot of welding, to avoid distorting the shape of the roof. The glue that was used is supposed to be quite strong, they use it for body/door panels on new cars, apparently.



Don't look too carefully, but this is the finished product. The color match is not too good, plus they clearcoated over a few smudges, that's kinda annoying. Overall, it will have to suffice. Not happy with the quality of the paint application, and I complained a bit then the owner said he would respray it. I decided I didn't want him touching my car again. Once again, as always in life, you kinda get what you pay for. I figured a low price, small shop willing to be open minded with me, maybe get a decent job of it. Not so.

All in all, it will work for me. The roof job was about $1200 at the shop, I got the donor panel at the yard for $75. I have to reassemble the car and inside panels, then weigh the car to see exactly how much weight we lost. I'm expecting something between 30 and 40 lbs, probably more on the lower end.

Hope some of you find this usefull. Check out the for sale section, I'll be listing my sunroof stuff for sale soon!

Don L.
 

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sick man i want to do this
 

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Looks great. I'll bet that freed up a lot of headroom inside. That's definately a less intrusive way of doing it without cutting into pillars.

BTW, nice D-cab Tacoma.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
they forgot to put in the cross brace that goes down the middle
Not sure what brace you are referring to. Other than the red brace in my earlier pic, that goes from across the inside of the roof from each B pillar, there isn't any other bracing to put in.

Don L.
 

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there is supposed to be 1 brace that is perpendicular to the red brace you already have.
your map light assembly is supposed to mount on to that brace.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Interesting, if there is a brace that goes from windshield down middle of roof, to the rear hatch, I guess it needs to be sourced. Everything I've seen and taken pics of didn't have such a brace. If anyone has a pic of this front to rear brace, that crosses (I assume the middle of the red pillar brace in my above pics, I'd appreciate it greatly.

I'll see if any factory manuals have this listed too.

Also, if any of you have a factory hardtop, could you take some pics of the headliner showing what handles and lights are attached? Thanks for your help!

Don L
 

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I dunno, I'd call the paint pretty good. Definitely looks good in the photos but I know it is always a different story in person. It is virtually impossible to match the paint color on a 25 year old car. Now the clear coat being bad, that's not cool.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Yeah, I know it's hard to match the paint after so many years. Mostly it's the other stuff that's basically an attention to details and care that bothered me. From 25 ft away it looks pretty good, unless the sun is hitting the paint just right, then the new paint has a bit of a purple hue to it. The body shop guy admitted after I pointed out a two small dents and smudges on the roof, by drivers door, that something must have fallen onto the roof, slightly dented the roof at two spots about 1.5 ft apart, smudged the paint, and they clear coated over it without noticing (?) I dunno, it got so I really couldn't believe much of what he was telling me anymore. Cut my losses, take the car and not let them touch it again.

Here is a pic of the rear, the bumper was painted for an extra $200. In the right light, it has a very violet hue, but at night it looks ok.


Maybe someday I can get the whole car painted. That would be nice, not having a multi-colored car.

Don L.
 

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there is supposed to be 1 brace that is perpendicular to the red brace you already have.
your map light assembly is supposed to mount on to that brace.
When I took the headliner out of my parts car there was no such brace. Are you sure about this. I am sure that the headliner had never been removed before this.

The parts diagram does not show one that I can see.

Jim


 

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forgive me if im wrong but all other hardtop cars have this brace. this is not a bolt in brace btw. it is spot welded to the front brace and the rear brace.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Not saying you are wrong, maybe different option packages? eg, could it be different in a hardtop L model vs. a P model? What about if the car was from Canada? Gotta be some explanation for what you've seen.

Here's a pic of the inside of hardtop model before I hacked the roof off.
First pic is on the front portion of the top, near the rearview mirrow mounting.



This pic is of the middle brace, it has holes for the dome light and wiring goes along the brace.


No welded re-enforcemnt going from front to back. Surprising to me too. Lots of caulking between the middle brace and the roof panel, but nothing in that big rectangular area between the middle brace, the front brace along windshield, and the two side braces above the doors (that I could see).

Don L.
 

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forgive me if im wrong but all other hardtop cars have this brace. this is not a bolt in brace btw. it is spot welded to the front brace and the rear brace.
By all other hard top cars do you mean all other supra hard tops or do mean like Ford, Chevy etc.

From all the Supras that I can remember seeing at the Pic n Pulls they did not have the brace you mention either.



Jim
 

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after reading the whole post a crazy idea come to my mind...
i see carbon roof on BMW (don't remenber what model..)
my idea is to put a CF sunroof and delete the rack of the sunroof
question:

how can i bolt the sunroof ??not sure it will be good enought if i glue it on the top..
i don't forget the rigidity , i plan to put a roll cage on the car..

that could be a good things to save some KG.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Many cars come from factory with an aluminum roof, that must save some weight. Sure carbonfiber would be nice, perhaps replacing roof panel at the factory weld points?

Adding a roll cage will lose all the weight savings of the sunroof panel removal.

Don L.
 

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i know roll cage will add some weight but reduce chassis flex...
so if i could save some weight and put a roll cage without being heavier it's still good for me
more then HP i have the objective to be under 1100 kg with roll cage
light weight is the solution to be fast on track

what do you want to say by replacing the roof panel at the factory weld points?
change the whole roof by a carbon one?
 

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Very cool Don, you definitly went the right route for doing this conversion. I'm very tempted to do the same with my daily beater at some point too just because I'm so sick of dealing with sunroof related leaks on a car that sits outside 24/7. I've had the glue that bonds the tub to the roof disintergrate and start leaking, and just recently the sealer that bonds the the sunroof rail to the tub went too and caused a leak.

The question is is this brace you speak of only on the Supras. I have a partially stripped hard top celica in the back yard I'll take a look at and a hard top Supra too but that my project car and the liner is in it.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
http://forums.celicasupra.com/showthread.php?t=51476&page=2

See above link for previous thread, how Jim replaced his roof skin. Excellent method, very correct, lots of work. Not sure how you could be a carbon fiber roof skin to match shape of your roof, or how it would attach, but Jim's pictures show how the complete roof skin can be removed.

I think I understand you want to only attach carbon fiber panel in place of the factory sunroof panel. That is probably not too hard to do, and keep waterproof. Not strong structurally, but with roll cage, no big deal to you. All that matters is how good you want it to look, will shape match shape of roof?

Lightweight is my goal too. Can't make more power, so light weight is other option. I hope to get my car weight down to about 2700 lbs.

Don L.
 

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what about seats? You still running the PType seats for autox? Aftermarket seats are legal, and at 45lbs for the driver and 42 for the passenger theres tons of weight to be saved. Its hard to find aftermarket reclining seats that are any lighter with rails but fixed of course can be stupidly light. For reclining seats factory ones for other cars seems to be the best way to go. Honda makes a lot of (or made I should say, easier to) seats that are supportive and very light.
 
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