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5 March 2018

What's the go with vinyl rooves?

By Aaron LoftsAaron Lofts
Some roofs sported a large ‘S’ shaped ornament on the C-pillar, imitating the arm and hinge found on a prestige convertible vehicles made in the 1930s and 1940s. (image credit: Survivor Car Australia)

​Vinyl was all the rage in the '70s. We loved our music on vinyl, our floors in vinyl, our clothing in vinyl, and even the roof of our cars wrapped in vinyl.

A vinyl roof was a popular option to have on a car back in the '70s. It would provide the perception of opulence and luxury, and was an understated style that was reminiscent of luxury coach builders from the past. It was a way of showing your wealth but in a quiet and conservative way, and it was a look that buyers in the '70s recalled from cars their parents may have owned in the 1930s and 1940s.

The vinyl roof that was available as a factory fitted option and was a relatively cheap way to give your car an upmarket look. The appeal of the vinyl roof traces back to cars made in the early 1920s and 1930s that had a material hood covering the roof of the car. Whilst many of the older vintage vehicles had a removable top, some had fixed roofing that still sported the vinyl material covering. It was perceived that the vinyl provided more protection from the weather, and it also covered poorly finished panels as well as creases and ripples that may occur from the roof panel flexing. 

These dealer fitted vinyl roofs were commonly referred to as ‘Continental’ roofs in an attempt to draw a link to the luxurious Lincoln Continental available in the USA, there were many different styles and interpretations of the Continental roof in Australia. The styles would differ depending on whereabouts the dealer was located, and which roof trimming company they sub-contracted to fit the roof and accessories.

Some roofs also sported a large ‘S’ shaped ornament on the C-pillar, imitating the arm and hinge found on a prestige convertible vehicles made in the 1930s and 1940s. A similar ornament can be found on the fourth generation Ford Thunderbird coupes, which sold in the USA in the mid 1960s. Other cars had ‘Continental’ badges fitted on the C-pillar which were sourced from Lincoln (a partner company of Ford) and can be found fitted on '70s Lincoln Continental Mk III and Mk IV – specifically the dash fascia on the passenger side.

  • Other cars had ‘Continental’ badges fitted on the C-pillar which were sourced from Lincoln(image credit: Survivor Car Australia) Other cars had ‘Continental’ badges fitted on the C-pillar which were sourced from Lincoln(image credit: Survivor Car Australia)
  • Continetal badges can be found fitted on '70s Lincoln Continental Mk III and Mk IV – specifically the dash fascia on the passenger side (image credit: Survivor Car Australia) Continetal badges can be found fitted on '70s Lincoln Continental Mk III and Mk IV – specifically the dash fascia on the passenger side (image credit: Survivor Car Australia)

Finding a car fitted with a Continental roof is quite rare, and sourcing replacement parts for the roof trims is near-on impossible - just like the other dealer special roofs – the trims were made to suit and fit that particular car and vinyl roof style and shape. 

The Continental roof gave the Australian made Falcon that extra bit of prestige that some buyers preferred, and gave it a visual link to the American made luxury brands like Cadillac and Lincoln which were not available in showrooms in Australia. It also provided the dealers a chance to ‘up sell’ their customer with appealing options, and in turn a more appealing profit margin for the dealer. If you can find such a car as for sale today it presents you with a rare and unique style that will confuse some and divide others, but will certainly turn some heads each and every time you drive it.

The Continental roof gave the Australian made Falcon that extra bit of prestige that some buyers preferred. (image credit: Survivor Car Australia) The Continental roof gave the Australian made Falcon that extra bit of prestige that some buyers preferred. (image credit: Survivor Car Australia)

Source: Survivor Car Australia

Are you a fan of vinyl roofs? Or do you think its something that should stay in the '70s? Let us know in the comments.