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Folding Frame or stow-away frame?

Posted by Jonas1 
Jonas1 Avatar
Doug W
Gainesville, GA, USA   usa
1966 MG MGB

One more opinion topic,

I've got a Stow-away frame for the top but, I'm considering switching to a folding frame, specifically the black 1971-80 frame. Which is better? I've also noted on Prestige auto tops http://www.prestigeautotops.com/acatalog/mgb1962-80_originaltops.html , that they sell the stow-away top that also fits the gray folding frame for the 1963-70 cars. That way I could buy the top get it fitted to the car and later find a gray scissor frame. Does anyone have any experience with this top?

Thanks,



Doug
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SCL Avatar
SCL
steve langford
melbourne, USA   usa
1973 MG MGB "MY SWEET BABY"
1998 Toyota Tacoma 4WD

I have switched to the stow away much easier to put it in the trunk or leave at home. tops seem to interchange, mine did
Tonytele Avatar
Tony Ceglinski
Nimmitabel, Australia   aus
1967 MG MGB ~ For Sale ! ~
1967 MG MGB

Hi ... I have a '67 B which has a fold way frame ... Fantastic! You can do it all from the drivers seat. Say your driving along minding your own business, then suddenly up head it's pissing down .. simply pull over and in about 45 seconds you have your roof up and don't get soaking wet like that guy who has to get out, go to the boot (trunk in your lingo) and get out the bag and build the frame and then put the cover over ... Nah, not for me. But hey, we're all different! Regards from down under.
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Tom Reardon
Wichita, Kansas, USA   usa
1967 MG MGB GT
1969 MG MGB
1972 MG MGB "Green"
1974 MG MGB
1978 MG MGB   → more

I have to say the best quality / fitting top is Robbins. They are very close to the factory top in fit and finish but a heavier ply material. They are fairly simple to install too. Always opt for the zip out rear window. I stupidly put a fixed rear window on my '72 and nearly died of heat stroke that summer. In my opinion, the Prestige tops are over the top. They are beautiful but way too much money for me. I always feel like you can easily upgrade these cars too much and lose their charm. I have owned cars with every variation of frame. My '69 had the stow away unit that was great until I needed the boot for something or was caught out in a sudden downpour. The early folding unit was deadly. The top collapses inward and can pop you in the temple if not careful. It's quite awkward too. The late model Michelotti frames are by far better in terms of functionality. If you want a grey frame, it's easy to repaint. If I had to fault it, I'd say they are not as convenient as a Fiat 124 spider or Miata top that is a simple push back, pull up affair without the lift a dots and all. All my opinion. Ultimately, pick the combination that makes you happy and achieves your goal. Good luck.
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Mike Schultz
Zionsville, IN, USA   usa
1973 MG MGB

Went from fold-away to stow-away (lived in SoCal at the time and never used the top).
Now, I use it in the mid-West. I still like the idea of being able to completely remove the top
from the car. Plus, I have a zip-out rear window which I believe is only available in the
stow-away version (a nice top-feature to have).
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James Wellman
Lawton, OK, USA   usa
1977 MG MGB

My fold away has a zip out rear window
MSGDLD Avatar
Dave Densmore
North East, Ohio, USA   usa
1974 MG MGB GT "Mabel"
1980 MG MGB MkIV

Depending on how you use your car, a stow away may work for you. The car does have a nice clean look to it that way, and leaves the back open. I think it's harder, and takes longer to put up than the MGA's top did. Besides that, do you really want to store your new top with the spare tire and tools?

If however, you drive it, aren't afraid to get the car wet, and plan on taking some longer trips with it, the stow away is a pain in the arse. The last time I had a stow away was on a 65B I owned in 1974. I switched that PITA soon after I got it, and never looked back!

BTW,zip out windows are available in either style, and IMHO are worth double the difference in cost.

Just my opinion, but I'm usually right! :thumbs up smiley
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White Wonder 78mgb
apple valley, Minnesota, USA   usa
1978 MG MGB

I had a stowaway frame on my 1963 Austin Healey Sprite; I hated it. Took about 10 minutes to put the top up.

I have a fold away fram on my 1978 MGB, I hate it. Takes about 30 minutes to put up.

So having experienced both I would vote for the stowaway frame. I will keep what I have but the stow away frame is easier to use.
MSGDLD Avatar
Dave Densmore
North East, Ohio, USA   usa
1974 MG MGB GT "Mabel"
1980 MG MGB MkIV

White Wonder,
If it's taking you more than a couple minutes, in other words, longer than a stow-a-way to put up a folding top on your 78 B, their's something wrong. Could the frame joints be loose, or rusted too stiff?
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Nial McCabe
Andover, USA   usa
1967 Austin-Healey Sprite "Spiffy"

My '69 MGB had the "scissors" type folding frame and I switched to the old-style packaway (stowaway) top. That folding top seemed to be really hard on the top material, plus it was clumsy to operate.

My MGB lives in a garage and the top is rarely up in the Summer. In the late Fall, I put the top up and it tends to stay up until early Spring (and I do very little driving in the cold weather anyway).
I love the clean look, but I'd agree that if you had to put it up and down a lot, it's a hassle. I only drive the car about 700 miles a year, so this is no big deal to me.

I also have a Miata and '73 Midget. The folding tops on those cars are great when the weather may require a quick cover.
The Miata is especially nice; even with a Hard-Dog roll bar, I can drop the top from the driver's seat.



npmccabe.org


kevin58 Avatar
Kevin Profitt
Saginaw, MI, USA   usa
1969 MG MGB "TARDIS"

I've got a finger pincher too on my '69. Hate it... absolutely hate it. Fortunately I only have to deal with it twice a year.
78mgb Avatar
White Wonder 78mgb
apple valley, Minnesota, USA   usa
1978 MG MGB

In reply to # 2239494 by MSGDLD White Wonder,
If it's taking you more than a couple minutes, in other words, longer than a stow-a-way to put up a folding top on your 78 B, their's something wrong. Could the frame joints be loose, or rusted too stiff?

Going up or down takes a minute or two, but putting the lift-a-dots on takes a lot of time. If the lift-a-dots would align properly, it would take less time. The cooler the weather, the harder it is to get them to snap. When I installed the top, it seemed that it was cut too short (other people have complained about the same problem). So the top is real tight when it is up. Since I do most of my driving in nice weather, the top is mostly down. My experience with my 1963 AH Sprite with the removable top was much easier going up and down. I am sure if the top was sized right, it would make a difference but getting a new top is not a priority to me.
EW Chapman Avatar
Earl Chapman
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada   can
1969 MG MGB

My 69 originally had a fold away top, but like many others, I switched to a stow away when I bought a new top. The stow away is great as it leaves a lot of space behind the seats and is not a big deal to put up. I rarely have the top up during the summer, but occasionally when I do get caught out in the rain, it's amazing how quick you can get a stow away top assembled and in place with the top secured. Sounds like a competition one could have at an MGB gathering.
MSGDLD Avatar
Dave Densmore
North East, Ohio, USA   usa
1974 MG MGB GT "Mabel"
1980 MG MGB MkIV

White Wonder,

Gotcha. After I wrote I thought about a tight top, or lift a dots. I admit, been there and done that, it's miserable, but for me it's always been on an old top. Hmmm, maybe it's because I've never had a new top. I can also understand why you wouldn't want to replace the top when it's in good shape. BTW, I understand that the vinyl tops have more problems with temperature affecting fit than with cloth. Also with tops that have gone long periods without being put up.

Can I ask what brand top it is? Sooner than later I will have to get one for the 80B. Sounds like a good brand to avoid!
78mgb Avatar
White Wonder 78mgb
apple valley, Minnesota, USA   usa
1978 MG MGB

In reply to # 2239720 by MSGDLD White Wonder,

Gotcha. After I wrote I thought about a tight top, or lift a dots. I admit, been there and done that, it's miserable, but for me it's always been on an old top. Hmmm, maybe it's because I've never had a new top. I can also understand why you wouldn't want to replace the top when it's in good shape. BTW, I understand that the vinyl tops have more problems with temperature affecting fit than with cloth. Also with tops that have gone long periods without being put up.

Can I ask what brand top it is? Sooner than later I will have to get one for the 80B. Sounds like a good brand to avoid!

I will try to find the paperwork on the top. I bought the top a long time ago from J.C. Whitney and did not install it until recently. It had a lifetime warranty but Whitney was really fussy about honoring it. The first one that I received had a zippered back window and the zipper broke, so I sent it back. When I went to install it, I could see that the top was cut short and so I had a hard time installing it. I thought about returning it but decided that since I had if for so long that it was not worth the effort of returning it. I do remember that it was made in the USA and that the company appears to still exist.
Peter-Sherman Avatar
Peter Sherman
Melbourne, Australia   aus

Prestige sell a fold away top for the MGB that is a copy of the RV8. They leave out the corner windows. Two varieties, square zip window and curved RV8 zip window.
The advantage of this is that you can (from the drivers seat) drop the top. or put it up again in about 10 seconds. Usually at a red light. Although once I managed to put it up while driving slowly though peakhour.
You just unclip the two big windscreen clips and throw it back. You can sort of do this with the corner windows, however the clear plastic is stiffer and less durable than the vinyl and is both more difficult to push down and sooner or later will crease badly, tear, pinch or crack.
This has worked very well for me for 7 or 8 years, hard use, 70,000km plus.
A zip down window is a must, unless you enjoy broiling or burning in the summer.

I prefer a good quality vinyl to canvas/mohair. My car is a daily driver. Good quality vinyl won't shrink (apparently the cheap stuff does) or fade and because it has a water proof surface you can give it a scrub with soap, high pressure spray or put Armour-all on it to make it look new. With out a doubt mohair looks and feels better, when new. Woven, much greater surface area more difficult to clean. For someone who doesn't do too many miles and has a good garage, and doesn't mind the price tag, it would be the preferred choice I'd imagine.
When you fold down the frame it forms a mini tonneau. Notice that the underside of the vinyl has faded. This is why I think the topside of mohair will fade especially since natural vs artificial fiber.

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kimmie Avatar
Kimberly Rae
Briar Hill, Victoria, Australia   aus
1970 MG MGB MkIII "The G"
1998 Mercedes-Benz C-Class "The Merc"

It's a roadster - designed to be driven with no top, not a folded down top. Less than 5 minutes to pull over and put it up the car looks SOOO much better in the no top condition.
I have never gotten more than damp putting the top on in the rain and whereas I had a pack away, gave it away in preference.
Each to their own, but if one is worried about a little inconvenience and water, why is she/he driving an MG? Buy an MX5.



It's not a car...It's an Adventure! (apologies to Casey Ryback)
Joe Avatar
Joe Gold Member
Joe Ford
Layton, Utah, USA   usa
1971 MG MGB

My preference is the stow-away. Actually, it's not my preference, but my two Lab's preference. They ride back there and there just isn't room with the fold-down top. I've never found it to be too tough or time-consuming to put up, or take down, the stow-away top, but then again I consider the lift-tabs as an optional event if I have the time. So far as the top riding in the boot, I do have a case for the top and one for the frame which seem to do a good job of protecting them from each other.
Paul Erslev
Annapolis, MD, USA   usa
1969 MG MGB "Betsy"

If you live where there is little rain, go for the stow-away. However, if you live where you can drive into a rain shower, then sun, then later another rain shower, you'll need the folding top. PLUS, doesn't anyone carry anything in the SMALL boot. With a top, frame, tonn. cover, tools, spare tire, jack, spare parts, etc., you have no room for anything else in the boot. Where does the luggage, or picnic basket, or stuff from shopping, or going on a beer run - where goes this stuff go with a top in the boot. Don't say behind the seat as there is little room with the seat all the way back, not to mention that if you stop at Mac's for a burger, when you come out, that case of beer behind the seats will be gone! And, finally, in the summer, sometimes you need the top up to protect you from the hot, burning sun.
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Owen Frankland
Stockton on Tees, Cleveland, United Kingdom   gbr
1937 MG TA "Numbum"
1971 MG MGB GT "The Bruise"
2002 MG ZR

Go for the fold down top.







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