Hardtop that fits in the trunk! Pics..

Jeff Lemke

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Finally finished! I’m sure most of you have a total understanding of what’s happening here by simply looking at the pics. Yes, it fits in the trunk. Yes, it looks great. Yes, if your very tall your S.O.L.

When I bought my Viper it came with a hardtop that I hated. It was a double bubble deal that still managed to look a bit awkward and bulky on the car. No matter how much you squinted your eyes to try to make it fit the RT/10 shape it always managed to look like a cap that was pure afterthought. I hated unbolting it, bolting it, lifting it, then getting somewhere far from home and not being able to remove it to enjoy the sun. The top was quickly sold and the funds transferred to a beautiful Venzano interior.

Most of us know nothing can wreck the great looks of the RT/10 like the soft top. Apart from the cumbersome assembly process and hoping a strong wind does not come by as your lifting the giant sail into a scratch free position, the worst part about the soft top is it making your cool looking RT/10 look like a dork. I hope no one is taking offense to my comments regarding tops, some designs look better than others and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

This design has been in my head for a while now and after reading comments on this forum I decided to take the plunge and build one. My objectives were:

1. Get rid of the bulk and “hat/cap” look as much as possible.
2. Make it fit in the trunk
3. Make it easier to operate than the soft top.

I feel these goals were accomplished better than expected. There is a patent pending and my company is ready to begin production if response is good. I am VERY happy with the final prototype seen here but it was very much designed for me and my tastes without compromises and that means it is probably not for everyone. Kind of like the Viper itself.

A real key to the good looking design of this new top is the hard side windows. Knowing that nothing on the market was going to fit the design that was being attempted the original plan was to manufacture the top and windows as a set. It was then decided the design and engineering of the windows would cost too much time to develop so I bought a pair from Vipermania and chopped more than 2” off the height at the rear. These are great windows and I really do not believe they can be done any better than this when you consider the variances in these cars. Great job, Biff! For those who like to leave their Vmania windows in all of the time even with the top off, the lowering at the rear makes them look SUPER cool (very speedster-ish). I will also note that this is the only window that will work with this top and it must be modified.

I am 5ft 11inches tall and can fit in the car about the same as I do with the soft top (about 3/8” from the cross rail to my head). A good friend of mine stands 6’ 1” and fits in the car without a head tilt but says he’s not very comfortable. The seat brackets were then lowered 1” and my buddy fits in it fine and the lowering gives me lots of clearance. With the seats lowered 1”, I’m guessing anyone taller than 6-3 or so can expect a nice head rub as they drive along.

The top operates via guide pins (like a table leaf) to align the three lightweight aluminum panels into position then gets secured together via 4 draw clamps. The top mounts to the car using the front twist bolts and a pair of rear draw bolts that pass through the factory mounting locations. The top is very sturdy, secure and solid feeling when mounted. It can quickly be assembled on the car and the three lightweight panels are easy to handle and take up less room in the trunk than the soft top!

Some original concepts have been dismissed. The prototype shown here is made of aluminum and was originally going to be manufactured this way. However, the time that it takes to fabricate the aluminum would just about double the cost so expect fiberglass panels for production models. If you really really really want aluminum, expect to pay almost 2x. Also, the original design was flush with the sport bar but that involved removing the sport bar pad which was not acceptable. It was a toss up between styling and easy usage and the latter was chosen when the headroom was also factored in. So, the roof is on top of the bar.

A storage bag was to be included with the purchase but now that the top is completed and I turn my attention to such details, I’m finding the cost for a decent bag will be higher than expected. I’ve decided to leave the storage bag as an option for those who wish to save a few bucks and devise an alternate method of trunk protection. I have no real details about the bag at this time but will show photos and pricing as soon as I can. I would very much like to have your thoughts on what you would be willing to spend on a good trunk bag.

Pricing for the top will be $2795 painted. If you do not yet have a set of Vipermania windows you’ll need a set and we’ll modify them at no charge to fit the top. We can also sell you a set ready to go. Currently this top is only available for Gen 1 cars (92-96) but Gen 2’s are in the works if demand is high enough. The Gen 2 top will have the more traditional hardtop style (high kick at the rear above the B Pillar and a little less flat) to accommodate the higher door pillars and glass windows. The downside to this design is you lose the “chopper” styling but you do gain a bit more head room.

Eager for all around input.

Jeff Lemke
A.P. Engineering
248-328-2222

Oh, BTW, I will have my soft top and side curtains on e-bay shortly if anyone wants a nice set ($1,150). They are in good condition but I am quite confident they will never go on the car again.
 

Mike_W

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Jeff, you did it right EXCEPT don't type "IMAGE" type "IMG" and then "/IMG".. not in quotes though.

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Mike
 

Rollin4

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Jeff,looks good. I assume it uses stock attachment points? When do you expect to have them in production?
 
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Jeff Lemke

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Rollin,

About a month. Yes, stock attachment points with standard latch in the front and BOLTED thru at the rear. No scissor latches to come loose.

Jeff
 

Clown Shoe

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Awesome idea, about 4 months too late for me. I bought V mania and am very happy with them. But if they folded. WOW. Good luck on selling them.
 

Roadkill

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Very cool! A couple questions:
1. How fast have you had the car up to with the top on? and how long have you tested it?

2. Has the Fiberglass design been tested yet?

3. Warranty offered on them?

4. How long does it take to dissassemble/ reassemble and place in trunk/ roof?
 

AG98RT10

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I'd give very serious thought to buying one if fit Gen II.

Would it be completely waterproof? Secure against flying off at 150 MPH?

Great idea!
 
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Jeff Lemke

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High speed testing (over 100mph) has not yet been done. Waiting of the Michigan weather to clear. The top is VERY secure though. It's bolted down in the rear (as long as someone does not forget the bolts). Full Warranty on the item. If you do not like it, full refund. Assembles/Disassembles in less time than the soft top. Fiberglass has not yet been tested. I'll keep updates on it though.

Jeff
 

Gerald Levin

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And they said it couldn't be done. Congratulations on a great looking hardtop that is way better looking than those fugly soft tops. Nice Job!
 
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Jeff Lemke

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Thanks, Adam. Your first on the list and I'm glad you like it.

To All, I want to make mention that I will probably Never do a high speed test at 150 MPH (althought it sounds like fun). This top is designed for street use and not the track. You probably can't wear a helmet under this anyway. I will, however, run a 100 MPH for a while to make sure it's as sturdy as I feel it is.

Jeff
 

dennis

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Rather drive through a car-wash to see how watertight it is.
But it's an awesome idea. Who made those windows, btw?
 
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Jeff Lemke

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I'll be doing a hose test soon. I don't drive it in the rain unless I get cought but I'll leave it outside on the next rainy day. I expect it to do a good job based on what I've seen with the fit but let's face it, RT/10's were never really supposed to HAVE a top and the car itself is just not waterproof. Much of the water that ends up in the cars also comes between the door/hood/cowl/windows, etc.

I'm not trying to make excuses if water gets in the car, I'm just spreading awareness that the top is not always the culpert.
 

dennis

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I don't expect it to be water-proof like a submarine. I've never seen an RT/10 with a top that is, actually. I also saw a lot of GTS's with water leaking in... LOL.

Anyways, I just ask, because of the extra-gaps you created because of the fold-up mechanism.
 
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Jeff Lemke

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Yes, Dennis, good point. To clairify a bit, the top does not actually fold, it comes apart and will fit into a storage bag soon to be anounced.
 

MadMaxx

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Good luck to you.

My company is AP Engineering as well, established a few years back. Also produces viper parts (just never got around to doing anything with it).
Hope there is no confusion when my stuff hits the streets (I work in carbon only).


MM
 
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Jeff Lemke

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MM, that's good to know.

Dennis,

As far as an assembly time frame, I have not yet actually timed myself. I can do it MUCH faster than the soft top. In a hurry, I bet I could pull it out of the trunk and fasten it to the car in about a minute and a half. Taking my time and being careful (as most of us would) I'd say about three minutes once the procedure is understood (no brainer really).

The best part though is handling three smaller pieces and assembling it ON THE CAR instead of the "build the tent" process of the soft top then trying to put that large piece on top of the car without scratching it.

It's just easier.
 

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