If you have been getting away with driving your convertible with its shabby top, because you kept it down all the time and hidden under its boot, keep in mind cruising season will be ending soon as winter weather is approaching. Since most of you will not drive your drop-tops in cold weather, now would be a good time to contemplate replacing its convertible top. This way you have plenty of time to get it right before spring cruising returns.

In “Bowing Out Gracefully” (HPP, Sept. ’12) we showed how your classic Pontiac convertible’s top-frame assembly might be nesting rust in its header bow, and it could be unbeknownst to you until you peel back the front of your convertible top’s vinyl or remove it completely in preparation of a new top.

“There are two reasons to replace your convertible top. The first is appearance and the second is wear and tear,” says Kee Auto Top in Charlotte, North Carolina. Kee is a leading manufacturer of convertible and vinyl tops for worldwide distribution, and it supplies them to the Pontiac hobby via restoration-parts retailers, such as Ames Performance.

The top on our ’68 Firebird convertible was already exhibiting visual symptoms that led to a diagnosis of replacement. Its plastic rear window had turned into an opaque, brown-colored blob, and the top had a dull appearance that cleaners and conditioners couldn’t correct. Although our Firebird’s convertible top didn’t have any rips and didn’t leak, it was time to replace it.

Kee has been in business since 1964, and has decades of experience producing OE-replacement tops for classic Pontiacs. The company suggested its ’67-’69 Firebird convertible top and front-header strip (PN 1033). Kee also sells a DOT-approved plastic rear- window assembly, tie-down cables, and pads separately, and we ordered them as well.

If you are a Pontiac convertible owner, when it’s time for you to replace your classic Poncho’s top, you will likely seek out an upholstery and trim shop, drop off your car for two or more days, and then come back to admire the new top installed. That means the process of how a convertible top gets from its shipping box onto your Pontiac’s folding frame may be something of a mystery. Not any longer.

In this story, we introduce you to the components that make up a new convertible top, and then share highlights of how professional convertible-top technician Steve Webster of Anthony’s Custom Restyling II in Tampa, Florida, installs it.

The next time your Pontiac convertible’s top needs replacement, you’ll know exactly what to look for in a quality top, and some of the key steps in its installation.