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Homepage. This page: Banish a leaky car roof with this aftermarket replacement, suitable for saloon cars of the 30s and 40s.

The Wareham Metal Car Roof.

Manys the pre-war British saloon car that, instead of having a solid steel roof, was fitted from new with a large Rexine-type panel in the centre of the roof, supported by cross pieces and held in place with a stout rubber seal. One possible reason for this was to save on raw materials, the reason often cited for many post-war saloons and indeed commercial vehicles also featuring this cost-saving idea. The fitting of a leathercloth section in the roof was also to help prevent the body from resonating, often caused by less-than-smooth engines of the time apparently. So long as the material and the rubber seal remained in as-new condition, the fitment worked well enough.
However, if the car lived outside in all weathers, it wouldn't take too many seasons before deterioration would set in. Once it had, the interior headlining and the steel surround beneath the roof aperture, would swiftly begin to suffer, with predictable results not least mouldy upholstery, and a soggy brim to one's headgear.
Mastic-type sealants may do the job temporarily, but was messy to apply often resulting in a less-than-tidy appearance. Gaffa tape, or a sheet of plywood fashioned to suit, were other approaches often taken by weekend DIY-ers to try and keep the rain out. Cockwell Jones & Co. Ltd. of Wareham in Dorset came up with their own, arguably much better solution - namely the Wareham Metal Car Roof, as shown below.
The metal car roof as offered by Wareham
Following WW2, the supply of new cars was strictly limited. As a result, motorists who couldn't demonstrate a critical requirement for a new set of wheels, were left with the option of using a bus, riding a motorcycle, or re-commissioning a pre-war car that had been laid up for the duration of hostilities. The roads of Britain in the late '40s were therefore awash with cars of the 1930s pootling around, many held together with twine and owner optimism, eking out their measly ration of "pool" motor spirit while waiting for better times to come. Nifty inventions such as the Wareham replacement roof panel, advertised here in 1948 and fashioned from 18 gauge aluminium, would help to keep a weary old clunker on the road. It would also slow down deterioration of its coachwork and interior, and make the driving experience a little more pleasant for those sat inside. The only downside I can see, barring originality which wasn't a concern back then, is that it must have made quite a racket for those sitting inside the car during a rain or hail storm.
Fitting it apparently was a doddle, and I've seen a number of pre-war cars where such roof panels have been used to replace a worn-out original. Two hours work would see a garage mechanic complete the job. Fitting it was no more complicated than removing the original material, locating the new panel centrally on the car's roof, then carefully drilling a series of holes before installing sealant and screwing it down securely with self-tapping screws. Fitted well and painted black or body colour, it'd no doubt look perfectly acceptable, and offered a weather-tight experience to motorists of the day.
Read about other long-forgotten accessories such as this in the gadgets and accessories corner of OCC.

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