A labour of love

Roof panel removal

The roof of my GT has always been one of the poorest areas in all of the years I’ve owned it. When I first bought it, the “Webasto” roof (it was actually a Weathershields model), was in tatters and held together with carpet tape, and had obviously been leaking for years. Consequently the steel roof panel had rotted out in all four corners around the sunroof frame, and was bubbling in other areas.

Naturally, as a poor student, I did the obvious thing and patched it up with body filler and then resprayed it, and you can see in the picture above just how well that repair has survived.

I did get the main sunroof cover professionally restored a few years later when I had a bit more cash, but the sunroof frame and the main roof panel have continued to deteriorate, and now their time has finally come.

I’ve decided I’m not going to refit the sunroof to the new roof panel at all, so the first job was to try and remove the sunroof frame as carefully as possible so that it can be cleaned up and find a new home at some point.

I didn’t really take many pictures, but it wasn’t too difficult, mostly a lot of rivets to drill out. The aluminium frame itself is still in OK shape, there are internal steel braces front and rear which are pretty far gone, but it should all just about be saveable. Which is more than can be said of the roof panel.

This is the view of the front left corner from underneath with the sunroof frame and remnants of the headlining removed.

The corners of the windscreen frame where it meets the roof had also suffered badly, and I discovered some more interesting “repairs” from my previous endeavours lurking under the paint. I honestly have no recollection of ever making some of these bodges, I must have been so ashamed even at the time that I’ve purged the memories!

So, on with removing the roof. Starting at the front there is this long line of spot welds where the roof meets the windscreen frame, which I started to carefully drill out.

However, with the top corners of the windscreen frame being so rotten I decided to replace the whole frame as well (which includes that horizontal section the roof is welded to). So I gave up drilling and just cut the rest of the front roof section off with a grinder.

The sides of the roof were a real chore, quite possibly one of the most horrible jobs I’ve encountered in this project. I initially thought there were only a handful of regular spot welds joining the roof to the drain channels on each side, but having drilled them out and finding nothing moving there was clearly more to it. It seems to actually be secured by an unbroken run of very tiny spots along the whole outer edge, which can’t really be drilled. I resorted to running the edge of a thick grinding disc along the edge to thin the metal as much as possible, cut back the rest of the panel to just a thin strip, and then used a hammer and chisel to slowly prise that strip away.

Took forever, but after cleaning it all back with the power file it came up OK without any damage.

The back edge of the roof is secured by another long run of spot welds inside the channel above the tailgate, easy to get to and were all released without any drama thankfully.

I was really pleased to see the internal roof structure had not suffered much at all from the years of water ingress. It had a fair bit of surface rust, but a thorough going over with a wire wheel brought it all back to shiny metal with no repairs needed.

Not a bad day’s work. Next job will be to get the whole windscreen frame/scuttle panel out, and then put this all back together with more new panels.

2 thoughts on “Roof panel removal

  1. Hi will how did the roof replacement go I’m in the same boat as the gt I have just bought is accident damaged 30yrs ago and been stored it hit a fence straining post so damaged the bonnet wing and roof. ( roof and screen frame scuttle) but needs a lot more work on it so I’m looking for any info on roof and screen frame replacement.
    Regards. Paul

    1. Hi Paul, thanks for the comment, sounds like a good project you have on your hands there. There’s more about my roof and scuttle replacement in some later posts here, but overall I didn’t find it too bad a job, just time-consuming – getting the old roof panel off cleanly was probably the worst part. Good luck with your car.

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