Cars & Concepts

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The Cars & Concepts T-top setup really looks like a targa roof. The roof was cut completely apart at the A and B pillars. A center reinforcement was added, but it was inside the glass when the tops were in. This is pretty similar to some Corvette tops and several later GM designs. The tops themselves have a single lock handle (like a Fisher top) and no frame around the glass. Side beam apparently came in two colors.
I have seen several cars with these tops and the usual story is that they were dealer installed. Cars and Concepts probably had a network of installers, but, like Hurst, they also worked closely with auto manufacturers on new car conversions. Ironically, one of their jobs was making Hurst Oldsmobiles.

Believe it or not, you can still get some parts at Also, the photo at right comes from Mr Trans Ams, so apparently they had at least one parts car with these tops in it.


Jamie Lee was nice enough to scan for us the exploded diagram of C and C tops. Thanks!

We recently dismantled a 1979 Camaro with C and C tops to see what we could learn. This car, which we call "G", had its tops installed on January 30th, 1979 by "G Classics" as evidenced by the glove box decal. Hurst used a similar decal to claim safety compliance. I have never heard of G Classics, but from the name we can surmise it wasn't a Pontiac dealer. The car was built around December 20th, so it was brand new.
This interior view shows that the opening size was similar to the Fisher factory tops. The molding is also similar, consisting of a u-shaped channel and trim pieces on each end. The headliner upholstery is gone, showing the original headliner board underneath.

This view also shows that C and C interior trim was painted to match the interior color. This car originally had light blue interior.

This outside view shows the general layout of the C and C setup. There are aluminum rails clamped to the roof in front and back. These are "bridged" by an aluminum spine with a heavy steel brace hidden underneath. The spine had slots for the t-tops to hook in along the center of the car. Weatherstripping was in a separate aluminum channel which was screwed to the 3 main aluminum roof pieces with lots of sealant. There is a LOT of room for rain to run off in this design. The weatherstripping is high and dry above the channels where water would drain.
Here's a view of the front joint in the aluminum roof frame. The passenger's side t-top is still installed. The black plastic triangle is used to take up space in the corner where the weatherstrip channel curved around.

Any water running off the t-tops or weatherstripping would run into the flat aluminum channels, so the plastic triangle overhangs aluminum ribs next to the weatherstrip. See the next photo for a better view of this on the far side.

Here's a closer view of the same joint with both t-tops off. Some things to notice in this picture are the bead of caulk at the joint, 5 screws across the joint, and two screws further back. All these pieces had to be heavily caulked. When it rained, all the water would be running across the aluminum where these screws are.

There is a vertical stiffening rib on the front aluminum piece, and there are slots in it here to allow rain to run through it. You can barely see the slots from this angle, just above the gray bead of caulk.

Here's an inside view toward the rear of the car, showing the steel brace. Fastener layout is identical on either end. Notice the 6 rivets connecting the brace to the inner roof panel, the 5 screws (seen here as square welded-on speed nuts) directly at the joint between roof and spine, and the two black dots of sealer, which shows where those other two screws are going. This is a very strong structure and it is well connected together.
The weatherstripping fit and structure of the channels appears much better than the Hurst tops. Here, for example, we see the rear corner of the glass. The roof has been cut about even with the window opening. The original GM weatherstripping channel is used on the vertical window opening, and the corner piece, while visible here, has been cut almost completely away.

This area of weatherstripping needs to be glued down and sealed thoroughly to make the water, flowing on the aluminum, go over it. The weatherstripping is nicely shaped to catch the top of the glass.

Once the weatherstripping is removed, you can see where the weatherstrip jumps from original GM channel to the C and C channel. The weatherstripping is somewhat unsupported in this spot, but it's tiny compared to the same transition on the Hurst Hatch.
The front corner is much more impressive. Here, the original GM channel has been removed so you can see the quality of fit between the structural pieces. The C and C channel is still there. The GM channel was trimmed with tin snips to fit the exact dimensions of the a-pillar as cut off. If you can't tell, this is the front of the hatch opening on the driver's side. The front end of the steel brace, with all its hardware, is shown in the background.
When the weatherstrip channels are removed, the joint in the main aluminum pieces is visible. The aluminum pieces overlap about 2" here so that the 5 screws can sandwich everything together. Notice (especially on the far side) that both pieces have a vertical aluminum rib that meets are right angles.It forms a dam that keeps water outside the car, so this joint needs to be caulked. The weatherstripping channel was mounted just beside this vertical rib.
Below is the end of the rear rail after I removed it from the car. It is fairly simple, with clamping screws all the way across and a steel (rusty) bar that was sandwiched between the inner and outer roof panels. This would have stiffened the whole roof structure considerably, and in fact the Hurst tops also had a bar that was sandwiched between panels. It's crude, but it really works. We've bought 40 junk Trans Ams, and we have never seen a Hurst-prepped roof that was caved in. However, all the Fisher t-top roofs we have (about 20 cars) suck in spontaneously just behind the t-tops.
In the rear, inner and outer panels were cut evenly with each other and the bar sandwiched in between. The rear aluminum rail was clamped to both panels. On the far right of the picture you can see where the panels are closely aligned.

At the seat belt reel, the panels weren't parallel, so the inner panel was cut back out of the way. I wouldn't feel too safe wearing this seat belt, but in the 70's nobody wore them anyway.

In the front, the inner roof was cut back until only about 2" was left. This was rivited to the center brace which is visible here. The front aluminum rail was clamped to the outer roof panel only, which has its rusty underside visible here. The clamping bolts are clearly visible along the front rail. Like on the Hurst cars, they just barely left enough material to mount the sunvisor, and that area is just coming into view on the far right of the picture.

It may be hard to tell what you're looking at in this photo. This photo is inside the car, looking up at the roof on the passenger's side front. The reverse word "Camaro" is at the top of the windshield. The complete setup, including weatherstripping and t-top, is in the car. I have pulled away the headliner but it's just flopping loose and messes up the picture.

Below is a view of the front rail. Construction is almost identical to the rear rail. It also contains the reinforcing bar, but based on the picture above, it wasn't sandwiched between the roof panels like the rear one. It had to be used only to spread the force of the clamping screws.
Here's a bird's eye view of the car with the tops totally removed. The only interesting thing visible in this photo is that the rear cut forms a straight line with the rear of the window opening (B-pillar).

Well, I suppose it's also intersting that the roof was totally cut off. In case you didn't believe it, here's proof.


Reverse engineering this setup was very interesting. I didn't jump on it, but I would rate it very sound structurally because of the heavy central brace with the other components built up on top of it to form sort of a laminated beam. Other advantages I can think of:
  • Tops-on appearance is really excellent (look at the very first picture)
  • Excellent hydraulic design - It almost can't leak, at least when the car is parked.
  • Big hole in the roof - more wind and sunshine for the money
  • Component fit and engineering are really first rate, beyond 70's aftermarket standards.

Things I don't like are:

  • Tops-off appearance is worse than other t-tops
  • Frameless tempered t-tops are just a little too fragile for my taste.

It's not original, but you have to admit that a good vintage accessory is collectible and valuable in its own right. It's incredibly rare, yet parts availability is not too bad. All things considered, I'd rate it a very desirable feature. If you have these, take your car to a car show and let everybody enjoy them.