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'84 Spider Veloce
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, I've frequently read the Spider folding top is one of the best-ever. I recently bought a beautiful '84 with a nearly new cloth top. It fits great and looks good.

To fasten the top, two very substantial latches clamp to the corners of the windscreen frame. It takes me both hands to force these latches over center and snap them home, and the closure is very positive. Each latch also has a seemingly-useless leather loop, plus another leather strap with a snap.

Can anyone tell me what the purpose of the leather loop and strap might be?

Thanks,

David O'D
Irvine CA
 

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the leather loop is basically like a handle/grip (though I never use them as they can rip off, I always grasp the metal catch itself)
the small thin strap clips over the metal latch (one of the mounting screws has/should have a snap clip) and is there to keep the metal catch from wobbling around and making a noise (especially noticible when hood is open and the catches are just sitting loose)
 

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I always felt that the leather loop protected your hands when you undid the top on a cool day. I found that on those days the tension on the whole mechanism would be a bit tight, and if you undid the latch directly, it would spring on you like a mousetrap. The loop gave you both a bit of a stand off, and a bit of extra leverage on on those days.

They also would cushion your palm putting the top up when colder, as you already know.

As for the snaps, they can reduce the chattering of the latch when the top is down, but I also consider it a belts and braces approach when you have an i'll fitting top, and you worry about the latch coming undone.
 

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If the latches are excessively tight, don't leave the top down for days & weeks. That will allow it to shrink making it hard to latch. If you have the canvas top, raise it up, latch it in place, dampen it then let it dry in the shade. If you have a vinyl top, put it in the sun to stretch.

I think the latches might have a wee bit of adjustability. Loosen but do not remove the mounting screws and see if the latch will change position enough to make latching secure but not so hard.

The top itself can be adjusted slightly. Behind the doors there are 1 or 2 bolts securing the top frame to the body. These mounting areas have a small amount of adjustability.

In addition to the small leather straps over the latches, there should be two rubber straps that hook onto the top frame when in the 'down' position. These keep the top held down to prevent abrasion from it moving slightly as you drive. These rubber straps are behind the seats - near the attachment where the shoulder belt retractor is located.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks to all for the information. I will do the wet & stretch procedure and see if that helps the latching. I think the top was basically left down by the PO. It looks brand new, tho the receipt is from a year ago.

It takes both arms for me to raise the top - excessive effort, compared to what others have written. I will put a few drops of turbine oil on the pivots and see if that helps.

Stuart at APC said I am missing 2 little chrome corners or gussets where the top meets the body, right behind where the windows sink into the doors. What are these pieces? Pictures? Where can I get them?

David O'D
Irvine CA
 

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....Stuart at APC said I am missing 2 little chrome corners or gussets where the top meets the body, right behind where the windows sink into the doors. What are these pieces? Pictures? Where can I get them?

David O'D
Irvine CA
They are called "B-Pillar Caps" and are available from several of the usual suspects. The older boat-tail cars had different caps which are VERY hard to find, but all the later cars use the same piece.

Robert
 

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I've seen pictures of the leather latch loops and hope to recreate mine using a black leather belt, but I've never seen nor heard of any rubber straps to keep the top from rattling around when down - does anyone have pictures? (Of course now that Eric has mentioned them, they make perfect sense!)

Thanks,
Don

If the latches are excessively tight, don't leave the top down for days & weeks. That will allow it to shrink making it hard to latch. If you have the canvas top, raise it up, latch it in place, dampen it then let it dry in the shade. If you have a vinyl top, put it in the sun to stretch.

I think the latches might have a wee bit of adjustability. Loosen but do not remove the mounting screws and see if the latch will change position enough to make latching secure but not so hard.

The top itself can be adjusted slightly. Behind the doors there are 1 or 2 bolts securing the top frame to the body. These mounting areas have a small amount of adjustability.

In addition to the small leather straps over the latches, there should be two rubber straps that hook onto the top frame when in the 'down' position. These keep the top held down to prevent abrasion from it moving slightly as you drive. These rubber straps are behind the seats - near the attachment where the shoulder belt retractor is located.
 

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The leather loops are grab straps that allow you to pull down and unfasten the latch when you put the top down.

The thinner leather straps are used to secure the latch by wrapping around it and snapping when the top is down, thereby avoiding rattles.

Both are very useful, especially now that you know their purpose.

The latches snap with an authoritative zap like a mouse trap. It's better for wind and rain isolation for them to be tight than to mess with adjusting them and getting them easy to shut, at the expense of water tightness.

It's always best to leave the car over night (or for any extended period of time) with the top latched up.
 

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Dom, thanks! I was referring to my missing rubber straps for the top when it's down. I do have the small caps with the rotating "I" on top - I presume these are for the roof cover when it's down. Under them is what is left of the rubber straps, I thought it was just a rubber grommet, but now I know. I'll have to rig something up.

Grazie, thanks. My latches are good and tight, IMO a little too tight. Even on a hot day, the roof needs a good pull forward and down to engage the latch tongue in the receiving groove, and seat properly. I have a suitable leather belt I'm going to sacrifice to make straps, and I also need to fix the spring on one of them so it doesn't flop around.

Once again, I'm amazed at the depth and breadth of knowledge and engagement of everyone here, many thanks!

Don
 

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Don, I don't want to belabor the point, but I don't necessarily think your latches are "too tight". I've had 3 tops now installed by the dealer...an Alfa only specialist/store....and they all required two hands to fasten, when I asked him he bluntly responded that they are adjusted correctly.

If your top is new, I'd recommend you leave it alone and let the top stretch a while before you monkey around with an adjustment that will create more of a problem.

If the OEM straps are available on eBay (or Centerline) they'll look better than home made, too...
 

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You haven't seen my homemade version yet! ;-). Good to know about the tightness. Not sure how old the top is but its fairly new. I just got the car in August.
 

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As far as clamping force goes I've had everything from so loose that they flop open hitting a bump to so tight they've actually pulled the screws out of the rear bracket. It's all in how the installer does their job. If stretching as suggested doesn't solve the problem I would take it to a pro -they've got all the tricks to make it work. I shouldn't think they would too much.

As far as design goes, I've never been fond of the Alfa top. Check out a FIAT 124 spider top - they look great with slim c pillars and glass quarter windows but they operate like a dream. The only top you could legitimately close one handed sitting at a stop light...
 
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