Car topping a canoe on a convertible

Has anyone ever done it? How?

Yes, this is a serious question. I keep losing my secondary paddling vehicles. First, someone in my family took my Honda CRV. Recently, my wife took over the Saab, for which I shopped aggressively and successfully for Thule racks.

Now, I’ve been given back the 1995 Mustang convertible. I’m tired of lifting canoes onto my van, so I fantasize about using the Mustang. I suppose I could get a trailer, but they seem like such a hassle to me. Plus, I’d be fired from the Pony society for putting a trailer hitch on a Mustang.

I used to know a guy who used an MG or Triumph convertible to carry his Perception HD-1. He had constructed some sort of arrangement with metal pipes, which he could only use with the top down. I have no ability to build such a thing.

I’m thinking of just putting a canoe on foam blocks on the vinyl convertible top with straps going through the windows. Maybe if I position the foam blocks over the horizontal bars in the convertible top. But those bars are not real strong. But, but, the canoe isn’t really that heavy.

What about air flow lift? Maybe the whole rag top would rip off at highway speed. That would be ugly. But maybe that’s just an exaggerated fear.

Paralyzed with a lack of empirical evidence and weak hypotheses.

Trailor only
I have owned several convertibles but would never attempt a roof structure to haul a boat. Just get a small tow hitch and trailer. Its the only realistic safe and common sense approach.

I saw a Jeep convertible
once that had a roll bar about the same height as the top of the windshield frame. If the frame was strong enough and the top down it appeared that something could be done that way without even buying racks. Of course that would probably be limited to one canoe and I assume on those Jeep convertibles the top fits over the roll bar, not sure about Stangs. Just a crazy thought.


oh boo hoo!
I will gladly trade you a fully functional boat-carrying vehicle for your mustang convertible. I’ll even throw in the rack! :wink:

I think you’re probably right about the peer pressure but in this case I think I’d consider a trailer. I know someone who has a jeep wrangler and just carries his boat with the soft top down. Nothing left to channel the air and create lift. But the roof structure is pretty substantial on a wrangler. If I knew the window frame on the mustang was solid enough…

Do they make an aftermarket “targa” bar or even a roll cage for the convertible? That might make it do-able, and it might even get you some street cred!

Before Bonnie and I were married, she carried her 12’ Epic GPX on her convertible with the top down. She put it in upside down with the bow in the passenger footwell. The passenger seat then stuck up into the cockpit pretty solidly. She bungied it down and the stern stuck up in the air. Quite a sight but it worked!

Don’t think that would work for a canoe, but it’s a good story. How about getting an inflatable?

It would get you fired from the pony society, but one of those hitch mounted supports for the rear, and foam pads at the windshield with tie downs from under the hood should work

I’ve done it…
but it was long ago and far away. Of course the top has to be down, you don’t want to ruin the fabric. Foam pipe insulation split and laid across the top of the windshield frame. I built an old school ‘goal post’ out of 2 x 4’s for a supporting rack that went behind the seats. Front and rear tie downs to the old chrome bumpers was the easy part. Used it on a '71 Spitfire and a '73 MG Midget.

It worked out pretty well for my needs. I think the furthest I went was about a four hour trip.

But then again, I hear people tell me I’m nuts at least twice a year. They may be on to something!


Roll bar, styling bar
There are Mustang roll bar cages, but it’s much too ugly and inconvenient.

There is also a “styling bar”, which can incorporate lights.

Neither of these rather expensive accessories would give sufficient separation.

Harry’s idea might work
If you’re not going long-distance, but then you’re stuck with a hitch mount.

I think your major “paralysis” originated in letting family members “claim” all the vehicles that were appropriate to pursuing your hobby. Do they “need” those cars to haul their own boats? I’m guessing not.

Instead of fretting about which Rube Goldberg contraption will allow you to haul your craft on a totally unsuitable car, why don’t you just man up and reclaim one you already own that suits your needs? You don’t have to be a pushover to be a good family member.

Off topic, Gypsy Rose Willow
But the answer is that their needs for functioning vehicles to commute to work far outweigh, by mutual consent, my needs for an occasional hobby car.

Another beater
For the price of most solutions - either for the hitch, installation, and a decent trailer, or for the damage inflicted on the Muskrat you might be better looking for a beater S=10 or Ranger. Especially one with a still mostly functional cap on the bed. If it’s ugly enough no one will want to ‘borrow’ it.

What I did with a Vette
Frame mounted receivers on both ends with goalpost (T) racks. Worked fine.

What’s a new top cost?
At the risk of damaging the mustang just reclaim you Saab for the paddle trip.

Beats buying yet another car just for your canoe.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY

cartopping convertible

I saw a Miata convertible with a ingenious car topping rig at Delmarva about ten years ago. It was so unique (I was Miata owner at that time) that I took a good look at it. Two cross channels were welded under the chassis. Two strong welded frames were were used. The two frame bottoms slid into the two channels. The two frame sides went vertical outside the car. The top of the welded frames extended over the car and supported the kayak on top.

It was very clever and very strong, but came with some substantial restrictions. The passenger door was blocked off from opening by the frame. A passenger would have problems trying to crawling out the driver side. It must have had severe wind noise-no top down driving. Also, the rig would have been very difficult to install and remove without help. Probably constructed by a welder with more time than money or constructed in response to someone who said it couldn’t be done.

I too vote for a small canoe/kayak trailer.

A double blade paddle is optional, but recommended.


Receivers and T-bars
As Wavespinner did with a Corvette, my friend with a Mustang convertible did also. He had trailer hitch receivers mounted front and back just under the bumpers and receiver mounted T-bars made to hold the canoe above the windshield and roof. Car can be driven top-up or top-down; and the t-bars removed in seconds. The receivers are 1.25" and not the larger 2". but are plenty strong to support the t-bars and canoe.

da’lan hidden hitch
Try a da’lan hidden hitch, you may not even be able to see it when it is installed.