1978-1982 Corvette T-top Installation

The finishing touches to any 78 to 82 Corvette can be new glass T-Tops, new wheels and tires and a final detail.

Zip Corvette Parts, 8067 Fast Lane, Mechanicsville, VA 23111, 1-800-962-9632, supplied a new pair of glass Corvette T-Tops. Utilizing factory weatherstrip and latches, these tops are an exact replacement for standard or optional GM tops. Made of LOF glass, these break resistant tops install in seconds and are a striking addition to any 78-82 Corvette.

Zip Corvette also sold us a new set of aluminum wheels with a very high lustre finish, they look awesome! They also supplied new caps and lug nuts to finish off the outstanding look of the wheels along with BF Goodrich P255/60R15 TA Radials that just made our new wheels really stand out. Zip also sent new exterior emblems and some of our cleaning wax and detail items. These Finishing Touches will make our Corvette stand out from the crowd.

Step 1

01: Here are the new glass T-Tops that Zip supplied. They came complete with latches, shims and rubber weatherstrip.

Step 2

02: Place the roof panels upside down on a soft surface and remove the plastic covers over the latch and the bayonets. Open the latch assembly so that the rod end recedes into the T-Top.  Loosen (Do Not Remove) all of the retaining nuts on the bayonets and latch. You want them to be movable but not sloppy. NOTE:  You will notice that there are shims under each bayonet.  Make sure that they stay in place and do not fall out.

Step 3

03: Open each car door and place the T-Tops on the car.  Align the bayonets in the T-Bar receivers and the latch alignment pin in the header.  With the T-Top installed, close the latch.  Make sure that the rear T-Top pin is aligned into the receiver in the roof.  (This pin is adjustable. It can be screwed in or out as needed.  Make sure that it is fully seated into the rear roof receiver.)  Move the T-Tops from side to side to align the gap between each top and the rear roof area.  You should have no more than a 1/2″ gap between the two tops and no more than a 3/8″ gap between the panels and the rear roof.

Step 4

04: Snug the latch and bayonets.  Then check the height of each top.  They should be flush from side to side and between 1/8″ to 1/4″ high at the rear roof.  The glass roof panels were designed to fit from 1/8″ to 1/4″ higher than the rear roof.  Do not attempt to make the panels flush at the rear.  To adjust the T-Top heights, just remove or add shims as needed.  These are located under each bayonet.  We had to remove a total of three shims to achieve a perfect fit.  The front of the roof panels should have a minimum of 1/16″ clearance from the roof panel to the windshield header.  This can be achieved by either loosening or tightening the latch adjustment bolt.  You want the rubber weatherstrip at the front of the T-Top to compress so that there are no leaks but you do not want it to be so tight that the T-Top actually lays on top of the windshield header moulding.  After this is done, remove and then re-install each top to make sure it fits properly.  Now tighten the bayonet and latch nuts, re-install the plastic covers and your T-Top installation is complete.

Step 5

05: We had the new wheels from Zip and the BF Goodrich TAs mounted, indexed and balanced.  Then we installed the new center cap.  It is much easier to install the new caps onto the wheels while they are off the car. Zip Corvette will also mount and balance tires (usually for free if you buy both the wheels and tires from them.) so you do not have to take them somewhere.

Step 6

06: Mount the wheel onto the rotor and tighten to specs.  You will notice that we had each tire indexed on each wheel so that the second O in Goodrich aligned with the valve stems.  We also aligned the new center cap emblem with the valve stem.  This is an old show car trick that will allow you to align the two wheels on each side so that they can be positioned in the same way.

Step 7

07: Now we can move on to the outside of the car.  I have used The Wax Shop products for years and have always been more than satisfied with them.  We used The Car Wash Soap to clean the exterior and Safe Cut polish to bring the clear coat finish to life.  Then finished it off with a coat of Clear Coat Wax.  The results were outstanding.

Step 8

08: For the black out trim and the bumper guard tips, use The Wax Shop’s Bumper Black to bring back that deep black look.

Step 9

09: Use the LRV to detail all the rubber, vinyl and leather items on the car.  It is not glossy and makes the items look natural.

Step 10

10: We installed new exterior emblems supplied by Zip.  You would be amazed at how new emblems will really dress up an exterior.

1978-1982 Corvette T-top Installation:  Corvette T-top Installation

Text and images by Justin Abbott

Source: Zip Corvette Parts
8067 Fast Lane | Mechanicsville, VA 23111 | (800) 962-9632

Corvette Parts List Related to Article:


Aluminum Wheels:

Aluminum Wheel Center Caps:

Aluminum Wheel Center Caps:

Aluminum Wheel Lug Nuts:

One Comment

  1. Bob Doll

    Put new gaskets on my 69 using the 70 to 78 kit . Things went good a little hard to install the gasket into the adjuster strip over the window. Had a little bit of rivets rattling in side the top. Where one of the alignment pins Falls are used to squirt from 6000 glue into and rolled the top around till all of the little pin bits and rivet butts got caught up in the glue no more rattling . Still need to adjust the window gasket at the top of windows will do that tomorrow

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