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Targa Top Restoration

The original removable targa top was dull and oxide gray, with a couple deformities caused by improper storage in the trunk.  It just needed a little love to bring it back to life.  After removing all the hardware and weatherstripping, I broke out my trusty rotary hand sander and used 800 grade sandpaper to level the extrusions in the top surface.  Then a green scrubby pad was used to generally scuff the entire bottom and top.

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Some research turned up several 914 owners who advocated using pickup bedliner to resurface targa tops, due to its indestructible finish and resistance to UV and the elements.  One article caught my attention, recommending LINE-X bedliner because of the very close match to the original targa surface texture.  So I dropped by LINE-X of El Segundo, who helped greatly by spraying out test sheets of their various bedliner finishes for matching to my new sail panel vinyl.  The tests revealed the surface texture was an excellent match for the original targa top, but the finishes were either too shiny or flatter than the vinyl.

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Introducing SEM Color Coat Landau Black, which has an elastomer base and UV resistance that’s formulated for vinyl finishes.  I bought a rattlecan from FinishMaster and did a test spray onto the sail panel vinyl itself.  It matched the vinyl satin finish so closely that it was difficult to distinguish the masking line on the test patch.  In the image above, the side with the remnant of blue masking tape is the unpainted side of the vinyl.  Click on the picture to get a closer look.

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My final decision was to give the targa top a thin coat of LINE-X, and then a few coats of SEM Landau Black so it matched the sail panels. My biggest concern was the adhesion of the SEM paint to the LINE-X surface.  LINE-X bedliner is a form of plastic that is hard and durable only a few minutes after spraying, although it still takes 24 hours to cure completely.  Jeff at LINE-X suggested painting it within an hour after the LINE-X was applied, so the curing process includes the paint, and promotes the strongest bond possible.  To make extra sure, I first primed the LINE-X surface with a couple light coats of Bulldog Adhesion Promoter, which is formulated to help bond paint to all variety of surfaces – particularly plastic.  I picked up all the spray products shown above at FinishMaster.

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On the LINE-X side, Jeff applied an undercoat of red primer to promote the adhesion of the bedliner to the targa top.  Another measure he took was spraying around the edges to create a continuous wraparound skin that would resist separation at the lip.  The finished product turned out very nice, as you can see above.  The LINE-X has a very clean, uniform texture which makes it appear factory manufactured, while the SEM Landau Black lends a perfect satin finish that matches the sail panel vinyl.

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To give a better idea of the match, the image above shows the vinyl test patch laid on the finished targa top.  Notice how hard it is to see the masking line on the test patch.  I don’t plan on painting the sail panel vinyl, since it already matches the finish of the targa top closely enough.  It will be an interesting experiment to see how they weather in relation to each other.  The white circle to the left is an overexposed nickel.

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Most of the latch hardware was corroded from exposure to moisture, so I had those pieces soda-blasted along with the wheels.  Above, you can see the refurbished latches installed on the targa top’s underside, along with the headliner and some of the weatherstripping.  Since the replacement window top seals purchased from 914Rubber are slightly longer than original, it affords the ability of cutting them to an exact fit.  I’ll wait to install them when all the body trim is in place, and the targa top is mountable.

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4 Responses to “Targa Top Restoration”

  1. Looks better than new… Good work.

  2. […] seems like such a long time since the targa top was restored, so it’s especially satisfying to have all the targa rubber installed and the top fitted in […]

  3. Excellent writeup and a very thorough job. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. Using the truck bed liner will certainly ensure the finish lasts. My one nitpick would be that, from the factory, the targa top finish didn’t match the sail panel vinyl finish – it’s more of a mottled, sprayed-on texture. Also, for anyone else looking to do this, take a look at Wurth paints; matte black is a perfect match for the factory top finish. All of that aside, this looks great and only the pickiest of enthusiasts will notice the slight difference.


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