If cared for properly, a convertible top “will last as long as the rest of the car,” according to Doug Haartz, international sales director and customer service manager for Haartz Corp., the family-owned company that has been supplying cloth tops to the auto industry seemingly from the beginning of the motorcar.

Based in Acton, Massachusetts, Haartz also has facilities in Detroit, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico and China. Doug Haartz said Haartz Corp. is the original-equipment supplier for about 95 percent of all convertible tops. It also supplies materials used for molding interior components like dashboards and center consoles.

“I have a 1970 (Chevrolet) Impala that had its top for 30 years before I changed it,” Doug Haartz said.

“If a consumer knows how to take care of the vehicle, the top can last even longer than the body of the car,” he added.

Ah, but the key is care, he said. People carefully wash and polish the hood, trunk lid and other metal or fiberglass surfaces of their vehicle, but often don’t do the special care needed to protect a convertible top even though it comprises about one-third of the vehicle’s top surface.

Knowing that many convertible owners don’t do proper care and cleaning of their vehicle’s fold-away roofs, Haartz recently launched a special website for those who need to replace their convertible’s top.

The website provides a drop-down menu of make, model and year dating to 1982. You use that menu to find your car; a box appears with the Haartz material you need and the colors available, as well as a list of the convertible top manufacturers who can produce a new top for your car.

Although the computerized database goes back only to 1982, Doug Haartz said the company also can help those with older cars, even though “keeping paper was not a priority in earlier generations,” he said. “They kept it for a while and then got rid of it. Unfortunately, you lose a lot of history that way.”

“Our history goes back to the early days of the automobile,” he said. “We have a fairly good idea what would have been used on a 1910 Buick or a 1932 Packard, and we have a great ‘database’ within the people we have and some of the historical documents we have pieced together.”

To keep a new top, or an old one, in top shape, Haartz suggests proper care and has worked with Wolfsteins Pro-Series of Atlanta, Georgia, on the development of the Raggtopp line of cleaner and brushes for convertible car tops as well as the Bimini Topp products for the fabric canopies on boats.

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Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at

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