Touring my R129 - advice please.

jonthetourist

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I am at the early stage of planning a September tour in France.

We have to be in the Loire Valley in late Sept for an event, but have been offered stays in friend's holiday homes in the Alps and the Dordogne, so I am thinking of a grand tour. Tunnel and overnight in Champagne district, a few nights in the ski apt, long day's drive to Dordogne, a few days by the pool, then up to the Loire for a nice weekend, followed by the ferry home. Total mileage circa 1800.

First question is, do I set off with the hardtop on? Sounds illogical in September, but a lot of the driving will be driving rather than touring, and the cabin is a quieter place on a fast road with the hard-top on. We could then whip it off at each stop and go pottering about with the top down. Any views on this?

Second one is preventive maintenance. My mileage is approaching 100k, which is reckoned to be head gasket replacement time on the M104 engine. Am I right in thinking I should get some advance warning in the shape of an oil leak? Nothing at present. Anything else I should be thinking about, bearing in mind I will be doing higher mileages at higher temperatures than the car is getting at present.

All thoughts welcome!

Thanks

Jon
 

BTB 500

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You'll get better fuel consumption cruising with the hard top on (reduces the car's Cd compared to hood up). Car will be more secure when parked, and as you say ... quieter. Also visibility is better with the hard top than the hood.
 

st4

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jonthetourist said:
Two posts with opposite opinions - perhaps I should do a poll ;)
Fuel consumption, refinement. What about the enjoyment of an open top roadster on majestic roads. Where will the hard top go?
 

GP801

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Leave the hard top at home. In september the temperature should be perfect for having the roof down.
If your engine is serviced and looked after properly it will be fine. Our estate with the 104 engine does 1000 miles in a day a couple of times each year to/from Italy so far without incident.
 
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jonthetourist

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Fuel consumption, refinement. What about the enjoyment of an open top roadster on majestic roads. Where will the hard top go?
If we were doing a tour like Ireland and the Highlands last year then it would be soft-top all the way. But I have driven that stretch from the tunnel to Troyes before and it is flat and feature-less. And the drive from Geneva to the Dordogne is a long one, which suggests pressing on again.

The theory is that each place we go would have storage for the hard-top and we can then tour each local area on quiet roads and enjoy the scenery with the top down.

Or not!

Jon
 

GP801

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How fast are you planning on going? The gendarmes and speed traps on the autoroute love british tourists "pressing on".
Totally agree that the north of France is a dead loss scenery wise from the autoroute.
 
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jonthetourist

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How fast are you planning on going? The gendarmes and speed traps on the autoroute love british tourists "pressing on".
Totally agree that the north of France is a dead loss scenery wise from the autoroute.
Probably not as fast as you! Thousand mile days need a high average speed. I rarely do more than 80, but hte hard top is a lot quieter than the soft at that kind of speed.

Leaving the hard top in the garage is the easy option, as it won't be on that time of year, but I just wonder if sticking it on would improve the experience.

Cheers

Jon
 

BTB 500

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It's pretty tiring doing any sort of distance at motorwy speed with the hood down.

Using the wind deflector helps, but then you lose the use of the rear seats (for putting jackets etc. on). Hence I'd do as suggested and travel there/back with the hard top on.

Taking a padded bag for the hardtop might be an idea ... if you're going to be leaving it off the car for days out.
 

MD5

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I bought a convertible to enjoy the fresh air and catch the sun! If it rains (heavily), I'll put the roof up, otherwise it stays down with the deflector up on motorways (with good storage space between the rear seat and the deflector). What a palaver with the hardtop - on, off, on, off (is your wife strong?), in the bag, on the stand (extra luggage!) - you're on holiday, just flick a switch!!

I'd be cursing if I had to drive a distance in brilliant sunshine with the roof on - that's the joy of the soft top, you can choose how you want to travel, and if it's only for a few weeks, what the heck?! The hardtop may give you better aerodynamics and less wind noise, but the additional weight will counteract some of the fuel saving, so enjoy your convertible within thirty seconds of deciding that's how you want to travel!

If you are buying tyres or having a service, get it done a week or two before you go - I once bought two tyres then headed for the ferry to find out the wheels hadn't been balanced properly, so had to pay over the other side to get them done again.
 

john-f

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I bought a convertible to enjoy the fresh air and catch the sun! If it rains (heavily), I'll put the roof up, otherwise it stays down with the deflector up on motorways (with good storage space between the rear seat and the deflector). What a palaver with the hardtop - on, off, on, off (is your wife strong?), in the bag, on the stand (extra luggage!) - you're on holiday, just flick a switch!!

I'd be cursing if I had to drive a distance in brilliant sunshine with the roof on - that's the joy of the soft top, you can choose how you want to travel, and if it's only for a few weeks, what the heck?! The hardtop may give you better aerodynamics and less wind noise, but the additional weight will counteract some of the fuel saving, so enjoy your convertible within thirty seconds of deciding that's how you want to travel!

If you are buying tyres or having a service, get it done a week or two before you go - I once bought two tyres then headed for the ferry to find out the wheels hadn't been balanced properly, so had to pay over the other side to get them done again.
This is the correct answer.....why buy a convertible and not use it whenever possible? We have driven all the way down to Italy with the roof down......fabulous. Hard tops are boring and best left in the garage.
 

Mercator

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Having read this thread I now think I want a 230 not a 129. I had never realized how awkward it must be to cart a hardtop around and go topless when you feel like it.
 

GP801

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Probably not as fast as you! Thousand mile days need a high average speed. I rarely do more than 80, but hte hard top is a lot quieter than the soft at that kind of speed.

Leaving the hard top in the garage is the easy option, as it won't be on that time of year, but I just wonder if sticking it on would improve the experience.

Cheers

Jon
Its really not that hard to do 1000 miles in a day. Leave home around 4am. Arrive at our place in Italy midnight +/- 10 minutes local time. Tend to run at an indicated 70-75mph where possible. Never any faster. It uses too much fuel otherwise. Fuel stop/rest roughly every 4 hours or so.
 

MD5

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Having read this thread I now think I want a 230 not a 129. I had never realized how awkward it must be to cart a hardtop around and go topless when you feel like it.
It isn't, but if you don't like a proper rag top, then the 230 is the way to go. I used to put my hartop on in October and take it off in February or March before I started sorning the car throughout the winter. The 129 has more luggage space than a 230, which would be impractical for my mrs when touring, but I wouldn't consider taking the hardtop unless I was going to be based in one spot for a long time or it was winter.
 

dirty hands

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hi guys...this hasbeen quite informative for me too....for exactly the same reasons...were off to france too in the summer...took the 928 last year..with the arcon on it was doin about 12mpg....the sl 300 with the roof down on the same trip is something im looking forward too....with the roof left at home!! should do 22..25mpg??? I like to drive about 60 65...with the lid on you dont get the smells in the air, flowers etc......thought thats why we bought ragtops!!!!
 

BTB 500

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I haven't had the hard top on my R129 for several years now.

I enjoy driving it with the roof down (yes that's why you buy a convertible), but I personally find long runs at motorway speed more pleasant & less tiring with the hood up.
 
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jonthetourist

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Having read this thread I now think I want a 230 not a 129. I had never realized how awkward it must be to cart a hardtop around and go topless when you feel like it.
It's actually not awkward at all. The soft top is always there, and all you need to carry is the ht stand, which folds up to something not much bigger than a cricket bat. But you do do need storage, which on this trip we will have available - hence the question.

There is precious little flower-sniffing going on when you are pressing on on an autoroute. But at present I am thinking if I confine the fast stuff to day one we can suffer extra noise then without the HT, and I will rejig the itinerary to get off the beaten track a bit more on other days.

Thanks for all the feedback - much appreciated.

Jon
 

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I quite agree that having a car with open top capability and always driving around with the roof up is barmy, but people underestimate how much the additional noise at motorway speeds adds to fatigue - which is especially relevant when you have a long distance to cover.

My wife and I have toured quite a bit in her SLK350 and for long motorway stretches at sustained high speed we always put the roof up. Get off the motorway and the roof comes down again. I should add that for me it's not just about noise, but also about exposure to strong sunlight as I burn terribly unless I wear lots of sun block.

The beauty of the SLK is that the steel roof is always with you but for a rag top, a slightly off-the-wall solution for noise control is these:



We also tour on a motorcycle, and always wear earplugs for hearing protection reasons but the noise effect on fatigue is even more pronounced on a bike.

So, 20 sets of earplugs for £2.45 and just use the soft top :thumb:
 

Charles Morgan

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If taking off, storing and putting back the hard top is not a great faff, then go for it. I have no idea of how noisy a 129 is with just the rag top up - I have done great distances in a Boxster which was certainly not much of a problem with the roof up, and in my earlier days happily drove a Morgan plus 8 with no roof (trust me, it was much nicer and less noisy than with the roof up).

I did use earplugs in my 02 on long journeys though - and that was a coupe!
 

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