Saturday, January 31, 2009

Let the...Moon...shine in, Part 1.

Unless you are lucky enough to own one of the five or so remaining prototype/production convertible Type 34s that were built, or have the temerity to hack the roof off your M343 or M344 in an attempt to replicate same, your official options for open air Type 34 motoring are limited to the 'sliding steel roof' available on the M345 and M346 cars.

The sliding steel roof has always fascinated me, starting with my ownership of a '65 Volkswagen Beetle that was equipped with a defective hand cranked version of this roof. The available numbers seem to indicate that less than 5% of total Type 34 production received this roof option, so it's not only a curiousity, but it's also a definite rarity. Fast forward 40+ years and you now find a group of Type 34 fanatics who wish more people had chosen this option for their cars back in the day. All of the modern cars I've purchased since '93 have either been convertible or sunroof cars, so it tends to follow that I'd be interested in this feature on my vintage cars, as well. The problem has always been in finding a decent and cost effective sliding steel roofed car to base a restoration on. Of even greater concern is that little 'replacement parts shortage' thing that keeps cropping up. It's probably not surprising to some that it's taken me over 5 years to accumulate enough parts to feel comfortable in installing and maintaining a Type 34 with a sliding steel roof.

Excluding the elusive M341 model, the Type 34 family of cars comes in 4 main flavors. The base car is the M343, a left hand drive coupe. The right hand drive version was introduced later on and carries the M344 designation. When the sliding steel roof option was introduced for the left hand drive cars, the M345 model was born. The final family member to come along is the M346, the right hand drive sliding steel roof equipped car. The rarity of each car tends to follow this pattern, as well, with the M343 model being the most common, and the M346 model being damnably rare. Fortunately, the sliding steel roof parts are common to both the M345 and M346--'common' being a relative term, here.

I've used the description 'sliding steel roof' to refer to the sunroof on the Type 34 because that is what it is. Most shop literature and parts books refer to it this way. Also, the description 'sunroof' does not apply to me, as I wouldn't tend to use such a feature to its fullest advantage in sunny weather, preferring instead to use it at night. I don't do well in direct sunlight.

The point of all of this is that I finally found a decent sunroof clip, along with all of its relevant components. I'm currently in negotiations with Motorworks Restorations to have it installed into my car. While we've come to no final decisions, prospects are looking good for this to happen soon.

While it looks like a big mess, it is in fact functional. I had some free time yesterday afternoon to play around with it. With no adjustments or lubrication, I ran a set of jumper cables from the roof motor over to the 6V battery in the wife's Type 14. I found that the roof opens cleanly, however, does need a bit of help to fully close. No grinding or complaining. Both cables appear good. The clutch works as it should. At $600.00, I consider this a very good score.

As things progress here, there will be much more to follow.