Sporty New Hard Top!By Bill Johnston
When I started driving my first Samurai, I had a friend that had a unique fiberglass top on his rig. It turned the Zook into a half-cab. Until recently, his was the only one I had seen up close. Lately, whenever I would look for them, the distributors seemed to be out of stock, or backordered with no shipping date. Now Rally Tops has re-released their version of the top and the design improvements make it really stand out over the old model. Time to see them up close and personal like!
First of all, it won't be delivered by your local brown truck guy in shorts... This will come by freight, but it can be delivered to your driveway! There are basically two parts plus some installation components. Make sure it has not been damaged before you sign for it. Fiberglass can be damaged if not handled with care.
The installation kit comes with all the hardware you will need, including some new rubber molding, sealant and an instruction packet. We are starting with a fairly stock 88.5 Samurai. The stock soft top hoop had already been removed. There are some parts you will have to remove before the top gets fitted. The first is the padding on the trailing arms of the roll bar. Although these bars won't be seen after the top is on, don't just remove the whole bar and throw it in the corner. They provide support for the stock roll bar and are better than nothing. If you have a custom cage with trailing arms that are not the same size or in the same position as the stock bar, then you may have fitment problems. One thing that you DON'T see in the picture is the stock soft top hoop. If you have one, it will need to be removed also. You can see the two bolt holes in the body rail where the hoop was originally attached. The new top fits snug up against the back of the targa bar, so the two rails that would normally trap the forward welt (edge of the soft top) will have to be removed. This would be a good time for touching up the paint on the rear edge of the targa bar (if you are picky). Sliding the soft top down through the welt retainer for many years will wear through the original paint but is usually not noticed until you start removing parts.
Next we install some of the latch hardware. All of this hardware is installed in factory threaded holes so you don't need to drill, cut, saw or mutilate any sheet metal during this installation.
The one part that needs to be modified is the edge molding on the leading edge of the targa bar. Normally this edge molding is completely covered by the soft top. But the top of the targa will now see sunshine (and rain) so there needs to be something to keep any moisture from draining onto you head. The stock molding is marked and cut as per the instruction packet. The new molding is then pressed into place. The only real difference in the molding is the addition of a rubber water barrier along the top edge that the front half of the top will rest against. The old molding can be thrown away as this new replacement molding will look good whether the top is on or not.
The top of the windshield will need a flat surface so that the rubber water barrier built into the front of the top will have something to seal against. This means the soft top retaining ridge will need to be removed and put away in case you want to use a soft top in the future. The large tube of sealant and the small pieces of weather stripping that are supplied with the top are there for a reason. The edges of the targa were not designed to deflect water, they were designed to be protected by the soft top. Following the instructions and adding the sealant and weather stripping to the small crevasses indicated will make your drive through the rain a much more pleasant one. This is not designed to 'glue down' the top, so let the sealant harden before putting the top in place. Remember, this front section is made to be removable! Setting the new front section in place is an easy one person job. it's pretty light. Then from the inside you will be able to center the top in position and clamp it down. The clamps are easy to adjust. You want them to clamp firmly, but you don't want them to be so tight that they warp or bow the top. You will be able to tell if they are too loose the first time you drive down the road (they will rattle) so that's when you tighten them a bit more. If you start too tight you will just damage the top.
The rear section is held in place at two points on each side. The first is not threaded, so a threaded blank needs to be added behind the rail surface. If you don't have any rear side panels it is real easy, but if you have panels then you will want to use a little masking tape to hold it in place until you can get the panel and bolt in place. Leave an air gap (maybe a quarter of an inch) for a portion of the top to slide down inside. Here you can see the air gap. If you still have the stock side handles in place, you will want to loosen the screws the same amount because the forward section slides in also. The two small screws in the photo on the right were installed previously to fill the factory holes. You will need to use the forward hole, so if you did the same, remove the screw. For most of us, the final prep will include removing the stock roll bar cover and the rear edge molding from the targa. This edge will contact the rubber water barrier molding that is already installed on the rear section of the top. I would save these parts in the garage for future use as they are not easy to find anymore. You can also see in the bottom of the picture on the right the small piece of weather stripping that is needed at the corner of the targa to seal over the bolt/screw that holds the targa down. As the rear section is pushed against the targa and slid down into place, be careful of the tabs that slide into those air gaps created above. Also make sure you have removed all hardware that would be in the way. As you can see in the picture below an aftermarket bikini top strap holder was missed and had to be removed before we continued.
Once the rear section is seated, it is held in place by the bolts placed earlier on each side as well as a pair of allen head screws that go through predrilled holes and into the soft top hoop mounting holes mentioned above. Once all is secure, make sure you let any helpers out of the trunk... they tend to make noises when traveling over railroad tracks and other sharp bumps.
Here you can see all of the parts that were removed from the vehicle to make this installation work. Box them up and store them.
The rear hatch uses a pair of locks (one on each side) to keep things secure. The two gas shocks open and hold the hatch with ease. The rear window slides open with one hand and the tinted windows keep the glare down. This top makes a clean finish to a fun rig.
"Rally Tops original quality sport truck hardtops. We build factory original hardtops for many sport truck models. All our woven fiberglass hardtops are custom made to OEM standards and are tested before shipment."