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 Top & Boot

Differences between top types

Canvas vs. vinyl

Swapping tops

Power tops

Top replacement costs

Top suppliers

Where to buy a top boot

Cleaning products




Top = Made of multiple layers, the top is the folding roof of a Cabrio

Roof = Another word for the top

Boot = A cover for the top when the top is down

Tonneau cover = An accessory that covers the interior when the top is down

Windstop = An accessory that mounts to the rollbar that cuts down on the amount of wind blown around in the front seat area when the top is down


 Differences between top types

Technically, there is no difference between canvas and fabric.  Both canvas and vinyl are types of fabric; therefore, "canvas" is the more accurate word to use.


 Canvas vs. vinyl

Contrary to common belief, one is not better than the other, nor is one more durable than the other.  Both can and will last 10 years or more if properly cared for (during summer and winter) and both require regular maintenance.  Many think canvas looks better, but those are personal opinions.  Canvas tops are more expensive than vinyl tops.  Selecting your new top is entirely up to your needs and your preferences. 


 Swapping tops

The tops on all 1994-2000 Cabrios are the same and can be swapped; the frames on all Cabrios are the same and can be swapped.  The tops, excluding frames, on 2001-2002 Cabrios are slightly different and are more expensive; however, the tops from earlier Cabrios can be swapped onto the 2001-2002 cars (it's not recommended to swap an '01-'02 top onto an earlier Cabrio).


 Power tops

Cabrios that are factory-equipped with power tops use a hydraulic pump activated by an electric switch.  The pump can be found in the trunk, behind a panel on the left side. 


Power tops have requirements for their use.  In order to put the top up or down...

     North American Cabrios: The emergency brake must be engaged.

     European Cabrios: The engine must be off.


Common power top problem: The plastic impeller inside the pump can break.  Click here for a DIY guide to fix it.

 Top replacement costs
The roof on a Cabrio is made up of multiple layers: outer shell (top), insulation layers, headliner.  The 2001-2002 tops are more expensive because (for some stupid reason) the window is fused into the top.  The cost of a shop replacing the top varies, but if you go this route it's wise to call around to various shops to not only get estimates to ask if they are experienced in replacing your specific vehicle's top.  You can also install the new top yourself using the following DIY guides for assistance: Top Removal and Top Installation.
Part Approx. Cost
Vinyl top $230
Canvas top $350
Sonnendecke top $450
Headiner $200
Side cables $40
Part Approx. Cost
Vinyl top $650
Stayfast canvas top $750
German canvas top $830
Sonnendecke top $790
Headiner $250

 Top suppliers

 Where to buy a boot for the top

Used: VW forum classifieds and eBay (average cost is $60).  As with anything else on eBay, it's buyer beware: Some sellers (or, more accurately, scammers) simply re-use old pictures and describe the boot as being in "like-new condition!" when, in fact, the boot is an over-priced piece of crap. Ask to see pictures (and check the date stamp of the pictures) of all sides of the boot before committing to buying it to make sure it's in good condition and contains all of its parts!


New: Volkswagen Dealer, Cabrio World, M&T Mfg., etc. (cost is approx. $300-700).


 Cleaning products

Cleaning Vinyl Top & Boot

Cleaning Canvas Top Cleaning Headliner Vinyl Conditioner & Protectant
Simple Green + water + damp cloth + plastic scrub brush.  For best results, do not dilute the product before applying; instead, spray the product on, scrub a small area then spray the area with a bit of water and scrub again, then wipe off.   Keep Simple Green off the paint!

A concoction of 5 parts water, 5 parts Simple Green and 1 part bleach is said to clean and restore a dingy white vinyl top to white.  Keep this solution off the paint!

Vinyl cleaner (follow bottle's directions).

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser + a damp cloth.

Water only or use a canvas-safe cleaner such as Raggtopp cleaner. An upholstery/fabric cleaner.  Follow the cleaner's directions for use.

303 is said to be the best.

Other vinyl and leather conditioners are on the market; visit your local auto parts store for a selection of products.

The Fine Print

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