pearls of wisdom from t3ragtop


New member
Since I am back tracking through some old forums looking for Vert info, for a new build that involves one of Richard's T3s, I thought I would start compiling all the great posts from him that are sprinkled throughout the various forums and post them here, to be a more useful reference for those of us who love these little ragtops.

they will be put up in no random order, so just read through them.

here is the first

you use the wikipedia (and in my opinion incorrect) designation of generation 2. more precisely, the vert was produced in the mk2 type, 90-91, and the mk3 type, 92-93. the hood, front fenders, and lights (the lsi trim level composite type as all verts were lsi trim) are the same as the comparable year hatchbacks. the mk2 had the lower (more masculine) dash and charcoal interior. the mk3 had the later style dash with the half moon gauge cluster and interior plastic in a light gray. the airbag type steering wheel was the same across all years as were the seats.

there was a very minor production change in the top which pretty much goes unseen. there's a strap that supports the floating bow above the rear light (window) which used a steel loop and a snap on the earlier verts. that changed to a plastic compression clamp on the later verts. the plasic parts would break, the snap was more robust.

the headlights are the kind with the flush mounted lenses, not the recessed type that used the sealed beam lamps however those can be retrofitted to the vert. some people like them better.

the verts had small styling changes to the front and rear bumper covers. the front bumper mounting had a very small change between the mk2 and mk3. the rear bumper had a major difference in mounting between the mk2 and mk3 body types which makes a direct swap of the bumper covers a no go. the mk2 used a different tail light assembly which had the license plate located between the tail lights which provided illumination for the license. the mk3 had the license plate mounted low in the bumper cover with a plate illumination assembly separate from the tail lights. also, the mk3 had a filler panel or reflector between the tail lights.

a swap of the rear bumper and lights is a major undertaking which requires swapping the steel bumper support and welding to the rear valance panel between the tail lights to fit the rear parts between the mk2 and mk3 verts. also, the dash mounts and wiring harnesses don't interchange between the mk2 and mk3 types.

the doors are considerably different from the hatchbacks as the top window frame is removed on the verts and the a-pillar is made in such a manner as to mesh with the fronts of the doors. also, the side window glass and lift mechanisms as well as the windshield are vert specific.

the dash, console, and door panels are similar to the hatchbacks in lsi trim. the interior door pulls are a little different.

there are more differences in the chassis than it appears from a quick look. since the verts lack any mechanical support from a roof, the insides of the rocker panels are considerably more busy. under the rocker skins there are trusses that are fabricated to provide extra stiffness and they actually tie the front of the car to rear. that's why rusted rockers are often the demise of a vert. the chassis will actually fold in half if the trusses, or beams, rot away. the inner rockers of the hatchbacks are straight up and down, the verts' inner rockers are at about a 45* angle to cover the fabricated beam that runs the length of the rocker. look at the outside rocker skin on a vert and you'll see a weld seam almost to the rear of the door. the hatchbacks' rocker skins are seamless.

the rear of the chassis behind the doors is much different, too. the b-pillars wrap into a cowl that crosses from one side to the other and the step, or ledge, behind the seats provides a stiffner in the floor pan.

pretty much everything else on the chassis - suspension, engine, exhaust, etc. can be exchanged with the hatchback. the verts came with upgraded, vetilated front disc brakes that use a rotor over hub design with larger wheel bearings. the front knuckles are vert specific as well to handle the upgrades to the brakes. the verts also came equipped with a "sir" system (supplemental inflatable restraint or air bag) on the steering wheel with that supported by the ecu which also makes that vert specific. the verts also had 12mm wheel lugs and 13" wheels. all verts used the 4.39:1 ratio manual transmission, the automatics were the same as the base model with changes made to the atcu to control shift points based on engine rpm. all verts (lsi trim level) came equipped with tachometers.

that's pretty much the extent of the differences to that specific model. as a variant of the suzuki platform, the verts will pretty much accept any swift or swift gt parts and drive trains with some modifications. i've swapped manual transmissions to automatic cars, swift gt dohc 16v engines into factory g10 cars, turbo3 engines to them, 8 valve g13 engines, gt suspension components, 4 wheel disc brakes, gt bumpers, side skirts, head lights, hoods, grilles - all that stuff and it's a pretty straight forward deal to mix and match.
t3ragtopMar 28 2012, 06:21 PM
" a variant of the suzuki platform, the verts will pretty much accept any swift or swift gt parts and drive trains with some modifications........ swift gt dohc 16v engines into factory g10 cars........... gt suspension components, 4 wheel disc brakes, gt bumpers, side skirts, head lights, hoods, grilles - all that stuff and it's a pretty straight forward deal to mix and match....."
If I swap a Suzuki GT 1.3 DOHC for the stock 1.0 Geo Metro vert engine what mods are required?

Suspension stuff, body parts, and brakes I get.... :news

But Wire Harness? ECU?

you change the ecu for sure. you use the engine wiring harness, 89 - 91 gt will fit the connectors on the 89 - 91 vert, 92 - 94 gt will fit the 92 -93 vert. you have to do a few wiring mods, pull a connector pin on the main power connector, run a new wire for the oil pressure switch/ idiot light, splice a snip from the gt front chassis harness to get the gt coil and ignitor working, and run a short jumper wire from the gt engine harness at the ecu connectors to the tach circuit wiring.

you also swap the gt instrument cluster as the tach is calibrated for 4 cylinders and the red line marking on the tach's face is higher than other models.

on the engine mounts you have to make the transmission mount fit the chassis. the vert's mounting holes are moved back about 2" on the left side. i have an easy trick for that.

you have to swap the shifter linkage from the gt to the vert, too.

that's about all the business. it's an easy swap once you understand what's going on. ;)
1994 Verts? REALLY?

it's a glitch!

dealers who titled new verts in 94 gave a 93 car a 94 title date. some 92 model cars had that happen, too.

a 94 title could very well have a 92 build date which further confuses things.

if a car was built for the 93 model year in 92 it could have sat on a dealer's lot growing whiskers until 94. it would still be a new car in the dealer's name and if it sold in 94 it got a 94 title. it wouldn't matter much, about the only thing different with the very last cars is that they have a rear mounted window guide screwed to the aluminum top frame.
i have been preaching this for many years - a top which has shrinkage breaks parts worth more than a new top.

vert owners are penny wise and pound foolish by not paying attention to a shrunken, brittle vinyl top. break a latch mounting block and that'll set you back dearly. break the fiberglass header and you will pay even more.

a shrunken top puts enough tension on the top frame that i have seen some with warped forged aluminum bows. i have seen some top frames bent all to hell by snapping a latch block and catching the wind at highway speed and blowing open like the chute on a rail dragster. :shake

a pinpoint vinyl top costs $179 and might take a day to replace. they are generally guaranteed for 6 years but in reality last about 2 years before they start drawing taut and causing you to put undue strain on the header bow.

i got tired of installing a vinyl top every 2 years and started buying the sail cloth tops costing closer to $300. less than twice the cost and they last 10 times longer. for a special "keeper" vert that you plan on enjoying more than a couple years, what you save in labor becomes a significant number.

again, metro guys, even vert guys, are famous for being cheap sons-of-guns and almost to a man will opt for the cheapest part they can find. :whistle everybody wants to jump on that shitty $179 vinyl rag and pass on the $279 cloth top because it's $100 more. i did that until i got tired of installing another pinpoint vinyl top every couple of years. i will recommend the cloth top every time now.

a canvass or sail cloth top looks much better and last much longer. ;)
Miata roll bar conversion kits?

yep, the important thing to remember is that these hoops added to a metro vert will only be cosmetic and will not provide any safety in a roll over.

they will complicate operation of the top and they would neuter the side wings of the boot cover (tonneau cover.)

the best adaptation i have seen in 12 years required removal of the oem seat belt retractors and belts and replacement of the belts with approved competition style 4 or 5 point seat belts.
How do i stop the windows on my convertible from getting more scratched

part of the trim has 2 microfiber/ hair pads that push the side glass outward. those pads collect a lot of grit.

clean those pads. ;)

pull your door panels off and give the window tracks a tune up. B-)
top latch breaking

almost every woe you will have with the top stems from a need to replace the vinyl rag. it shrinks and when it does it stresses the latch blocks. they break, the screws come out, or at the very least the header starts to whistle or roar.

while we are on the subject, frederick has completed a new batch of cast aluminum latch blocks as of 12/22/2014.
rusted vert door latch

that may or may not provide enough clamping force to keep the latch in place. closing the door puts a fair amount of pressure on that particular point.

the factory used a steel plate that was drilled to accept the screws which when tightened drew the plate on the latch and the receiving plate on the back side together. that spread the clamping force over a wider area.

you should also remove that welding slag with a grinder. clamping will be concentrated on the high spots resulting in a fraction of the force actually being applied to hold the latch in position.

i'm pretty sure that the latch and backing receiver are the same parts used on the hatchback so you could probably pick up a used oem part instead of trying to use the washers. ;)
on sanding/polishing yellowing headlights

that's a bunch of sanding and polishing.

a light wipe with a cotton rag saturated with mek does about the same thing. ;)

don't get any on your paint.
replacing just the vinyl window

that's the rub. if the top is old enough for the rear light to be trashed, the top is too old to remain in use. a shrunken top will cost you more in breakage of other parts than the new top is worth.

another issue is that the rear light on a vert top is a listed, dot approved item. replacing it with a generic bit of vinyl doesn't really qualify the repair as legal. check out a vert with a good top sometime and you will see the dot approval stamp in the clear vinyl.
dripped on in the rain

All my verts have a leak at the front header where it meet the "A" post...but It's only minor drip...thats why I always carry a towel in them...
This is mainly because I'm frugal (cheap) and don't want to buy new seals...when you get a new to you vert you could order some...
heres a link:

a trick i learned in my youth while piloting such gems as austin sprites and mg midgets - carry a little jar of vaseline with you. when it starts to rain, get a fingerful of the jelly and pop it into the crack that's dripping.

that'll keep your left thigh dry in a rain storm. ;)

i always recommend a canvass rag over hartzz vinyl. they cost a bit more and are harder to stretch into place, but they look a lot better, last a lot longer, and maintenance is easier.

i also always recommend my guy, diamond_mall on ebay or here at his web store. his name is david daoud.
difference between Vert and standard Metros

the right front fender on a vert has a hole for the radio antenna that is special to the verts. the left front fender is the same as the other metro/swift variants from 89 thru 94.

the verts used special "sport" bumper covers front and rear. the foam cores are the same as the other cars. the verts used the composite "lsi" headlights. everything else on the nose of the car is cross compatible.

the doors are different, the windshield is different, the brakes are different, the wheels are 13". the parts that vary from the hatchback and that are specific to the vert are largely interior trim, top and trunk related.

Has anyone gotten creative with parts from the hardware store to create a better seal and prevent rain water from leaking in? I need a solution to stop the water from leaking in, even if it's ugly.

your top is jacked up, my friend. replace it before the worse things happen. when the latch blocks break you'll be looking at spending a hundred bucks for a pair (if you can find them.) when the latch blocks break the top can pop up at highway speeds and then you'll be looking for a replacement top frame at a couple hundred bucks (if you can find one.)

i mentioned the car cover only for use when the car is parked (which ends up being more time than the time you spend driving it.) you use a light cable and a lock to secure the cover. and honestly, a car cover fitted to a metro vert is too small for nearly any other car out there so they aren't really a theft target.

rockers are the steel bits under the doors. they connect the front of the car to the rear of the car and on a vert, when they rust out you lose the strctural integrity of the chassis. it's as much of a car killer as rusted out frame horns. having spent literally months over this past summer welding new steel, floor pans and rockers, into 2 cars i can tell you that if you don't have the technical expertise to do it yourself, the labor alone would be as much or more than your car is worth. letting the top leak is the biggest contributor to rust taking your car out.

deal with it as soon as possible or lose your vert to rot. ;)

you can see what i'm talking about by reading through my blue monster, red resto-rod vert, and white gt threads in the projects section. those threads have pics that illustrate the damage and repairs that go along with a leaking car.
swift parts compatibility

the steering columns are different between the swift and the vert - not interchangeable.

the wiring will be different, too. if the car is a gt you can make the 4 wheel disc conversion with some cheating. the front knuckles and hubs from the gt won't work with the vert's axles.

sway bars will be transplantable. don't bother with the rear struts, you'll want gas over oil on the rear of the vert and the gt struts are oil only.

don't forget the e brake cables for the rear disc brake set as well as the brake proportioning valve from the firewall.

if you find that the car is a ga or gl, the brakes on it will be the same as the brakes on the vert. unless you want to put the front calipers on the shelf for future use as spares, there's no gain by swapping them.

as far as most parts go, the 89 gti and 91 vert mentioned are in the same model range, mk2, and as long as things aren't vert specific (like the steering column and it's controls) you should be able to make them work. bumpers, side skirts, suspension, etc. will fit with some work.
top care

there's a product called raggtopp that is made for vinyl top maintenance. a soft horsehair brush, like what you use to shine shoes, is a must for cleaning your top.

use a very mild solution of dish washing soap and warm water to wash the top. never use a paper product to clean the vinyl rear window. always make sure that you rinse the rear vinyl window to remove any grit or abrasive junk before you wash it with a soapy, soft cotton cloth. rinse very well with clear water.

never use windex or anything like that. the ammonia in those cleaners will turn the clear vinyl yellow.

never use any solvents, waxes, or silicone based products on a vinyl top, no armor all or son of a gun or nu finish to make it shiny.

there's a product that's marketed for cleaning motorcycle windshields and removing scratches. it's something like nova and that stuff does work on the vinyl rear window when it starts to fog up, but i'm not sure how it affects the rear windows over time.

the vinyl starts to lose it's plasticizer as soon as it is exposed to air and sun. the raggtopp is a topping or a dressing that seals the vinyl off from environmental pollutants and gives it some uv protection. most good automotive trim shops that install tops have it or you can buy it directly on the interwebs.
storing the car with less than a full tank isn't the best idea. as the temperature swings through the vapor pressure point, condensation will form on the inside walls of the tank and rust it to hell and gone.

it's a common perception, and probably that of the landlord, that the less fuel in the tank the safer it is to store. that's flat wrong. it's not the liquid gasoline that's really the danger, it's the vapors that are explosive. less fuel in the tank, more explosive vapors.

i don't use fuel stabilizer myself. i fill the tank with 93 octane fuel and park the car, covered in my driveway under a good quality car cover, for 6 months at a time. this year i used a battery tender brand trickle charger under the hood to keep the battery warm in very cold temps.

i used to set a stored car on jack stands to keep the tires from developing flat spots but today's tire construction is better and it can be debated as to whether or not storage on jack stands is truly beneficial.

you can't beat dry storage or climate controlled storage. moisture of any kind is a killer for steel and interior components. verts develop a musty odor as mildew grows in the felt carpet backing so it's really important to keep them covered so that top leaks don't keep the carpet wet.

a really profound indicator of how well storage has been executed on a metro is to check the bolts for the seats to see how rusty they are. you can also look at the seat rail mounting points for rust. if you see rust there, it's past time to spray the rocker cavities with a rust remediation product.

there's a direct corrolation between the observable rust on the interior areas of the car and the rust inside the unobservable voids of the chassis. since i recognized what was up a few years ago i have borrowed a neighbor's fiber optic video display to check out chassis voids and you would be shocked to see what goes on in there.

i'm going to borrow a pic from a local friend of mine who has had an ongoing in-depth restoration on a family owned suzuki swift. this car had very few outward signs of rust but this is what internal chassis voids look like on a rust belt car, even with a super clean exterior.
Posted Image

the cleaner parts were taken from a "rust free" southern chassis from georgia. as you can see by looking at the "rust free" parts that there is developing rust in the right frame horn and on the area that's located under the toe plate at the bottom of the firewall about under the clutch pedal.

this is why i'm always yapping about eastwood company rust encapsulator and internal frame spray. unless you stabilize the inside chassis voids, the clean southern chassis parts will look like the rust belt parts within a year or 2.

my 2 cents. ;)
cables and tops

on what i'd call the rear end of the cable, there's a spring and a ring terminal that gets screwed to the aluminum top frame. the other end is riveted to the header at either end. be sure that you use a properly sized flat washer on the inside of the fiberglass header so that when the body of the pop rivet expands the flat washer keeps the rivet body from expanding so far that it damages the fiberglass. there's a fair amount of tension on the cables and i've seen some hack jobs where someone used a self tapping screw instead of a properly installed rivet and broke out the ends of the header.

all the verts had the same standard top from gm, something like m20. and they all had exactly the same hardware except for a change in the strap fastener for the floating bow directly above the rear light (window.) the older cars had a chrome snap on the strap and the later cars had a friction tab, a sort of clamp to lock the strap in position. i prefer the older snap as the plastic clamp self destructs.

i was trying to figure out the termination on that cable from your pic. i know that it's not anything i've seen and i've done a bunch of metro vert tops.

the rollers in your pics appear to be some hardware store replacement. they're definitely missing the plate behind them that has the keepers bent into it.

my rollers were cracking apart on the last top i did. i was on a trip to my local hardware store for a2 stainless and i found a drawer that had replacement rollers for sash windows, the ones that have weights in their frames with ropes. they had quite a selection of rollers. i found a couple that had the right diameter and ball bearing centers but were a little thinner. the ball bearings' inner race was too small for the shoulder bolts for the originals so i just replaced the oem bolts with a2 ss button head bolts with blue loc-tite on the threads.

the action of the top on my red vert is smooth as silk and i can pull it shut with one hand.

a couple of those online top joints sell the proper cables. i used to see them on ebay, too. i think that i have been generally luck to have owned cars that had decent cables so that i didn't have to change them out. from the factory, the cables had a nylon coating so they didn't fray very often.

there's a convertible supplement to the fsm from gm. about 4 pages of generally useless verbage and a video supplement which was supposed to be a part of the gm tech training on the metro. the video is really a short section, 1 of 4 tops discussed, and is pretty much devoted to the actual adjustments made to the frame. unless the frame has been sprung or twisted, you don't have to make those adjustments anyway.

a picture tutorial on top replacement

the deal with the vinyl tops is that the rear windows are heat seam welded and there's no material to overlap when you try sewing in a new window. you have to make the window bigger and generally it looks like shit on a white duck, i've seen some.

on the top, function is only half the battle. appearance is important, too. the top on a vert makes or breaks the look of the car.

the sewn in, zippered windows on metro tops that i've seen have a border that overlaps the zipper. from an appearance standpoint, it hides the zipper. from a functional standpoint, it keeps water from leaking through the zipper.

the zippered window adds $75 to $125 to the cost of the top. the value would be that you could replace the window more easily. i think the sweet spot would be a stayfast or german sailcloth top with a zippered window but then you're talking about a $500 to $600 ragtop plus installation.
swift ground effects

on the swift's rocker panels they have a little rail welded on that supports the side skirts under the doors. i have used the side skirts on my verts without that rail.

the swifts also have a plastic fastener on the front fender and 2 fasteners on the rear fender that hold the side skirt uprights to the body. i use button head screws in place of those.

but overall, the answer is yes, you can mount the swift gt side skirts on any 3 dr or vert.

i take short sheet metal screws and slip them into the receiving slots on the back sides of the skirts. then i hold the skirts in position so that the tips of the screws just touch the body. i give the skirts a little tap with a rubber mallet over the screws which transfers a tiny punch mark to the body.

i pull the skirt down and drill small pilot holes at the punch marks, smear a little gob of clear silicone on the threads of the sheet metal screws, and run them in leaving enough of a gap to allow a slip engagement of the slots cast into the back side of the skirts.

the sheet metal screws take the place of the plastic fastener buttons.

on the bottom edges of the skirts i just use the mounting holes/ slots while holding them in position to marks, center punch, and drill holes for the sheet metal screws. i do the same thing on those, a dab of silicone on the threads, and with suitable body washers i run the screws in tight.

the silicone helps to seal the body steel so rust doesn't start and it also keeps the screws from loosening up. i've done probably 10 cars like that. it's a hundred times faster than all that monkey business trying to make square holes for nylon inserts. you could have both skirts mounted in the time it would take you to get a few square holes done for the inserts.

i also don't screw with that rail at the top. all that does is catch water and grit and start a rust problem. if you don't use that rail, any water that rolls behind the skirts just continues down until it rolls out at the bottom. not much gets trapped anywhere and promotes rust.

i've run cars that have had that mounting technique on the highway and even faster (by double) without ever loosing a skirt. i've also taken them off to wax underneath and put them back on. unlike trying to pull the skirts off a gt where the screws rust into the nylon inserts so that when you try to unscrew them the inserts spin in their square holes and you end up just prying them out while they're still attached to the skirt.

i like them fine without the seals. i've seen a few guys who bondo'd the skirts to the body so that there were no apparent seams.

they just aren't worth the time to agonize over. i just hang them and get on with the engines. :D
the vert seat construction is particular to the vert. you can use other metro seats but you'd have to retain the vert's seat tracks and move them to the other metro seats.

the vert seat tracks have an extra bolt on the ends of the inner rails. there are a few minor differences in the floor pan from the hatchbacks and the extra welded pads for the longer rails is one.

so, any of the other metro or sf413 chassis variants' seats can be interchanged as long as the seat rails remain in the vert.
considering the cost and availability of the parts that a "too tight" top will break VERSUS the cost and availability of a new top-----I vote for a new top

there's a guy who "gets it." ^o)

there's no way to get a shrunken vinyl top unshrunk. :'( any toppings or creams i have ever tried softened the vinyl for a minute and dissolved the vinyl in short order. :x

the parts that break when the top is more than 5 years old cost a helluva' lot more than a new rag.

also, if you want to keep the car i recommend a canvass top as a replacement. the labor cost, in cash or in your time is more than the extra cost of the top itself. $200 for a vinyl top that lasts maybe 3 years before it's sad vs. $400 for a good quality canvass top that lasts 6 years - you do the math. i'd rather pay the extra $200 and have a top that won't break the unobtainium parts and is guaranteed for 6 years than to have to blow a day installing another one. ;)