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Discussion Starter #1
I am wondering if there are any bolt on parts for 2001 solera convertible. Since Toyota sent out a coupe to get chopped it has lost ALLOT !!! of structural Integrity. Is there maybe a brace for on top and underneath from another moddle that works ? Car is in great shape. It's my father's second car. It had premium stock stereo just over 100k not even 101k. I would like to improve this car as best as I can for him. Open to any suggestions even wild ones lol.
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Toyotas.
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The problem with bolt-on is that they loosen over time, along with not existing.
I'd be welding in additional channel alongside the factory stuff, along with strut bracing front and rear.
Probably all custom fabrication, as I've not heard anyone else complain.
Too, the car is 20 years old, and the aftermarket sorta ignores Camrys.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Well he has it it for over ten years. The original owner had it from new and a winter car in FL. I was afraid someone was gonna say fabricate. Bummer to here about them ignoring Camry in the aftermarket world.
 

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1993 Camry SE,V6-5MT
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What is the problem that you are hoping to solve?

If your dad has owned it for 10 years, has he noticed any decline in its rigidity?

They started out pretty flexible, like when driving down the road if you put your hand on the top of the A-pillar you can sometimes feel it moving differently than how your butt is being moved by the seat below you. That's the nature of most convertibles due to lack of 1/3 of the body structure.

Regarding loosening up over time, all unit body cars fatigue as the years and miles add up, due to micro movement in the edges of the spot welds and some of them develop microscopic cracks, allowing more movement, and so on. A convertible is going to do this more so.

One tell-tale of a badly deteriorated convertible body is if the door rear edges are hitting the B pillar (that would be bad body sag).

The big challenge with trying to add rigidity is that there just isn't any room to put more structure. So, thick, extremely heavy plates are sometimes used ("when there's no room for an efficient solution, throw weight at it"). Cars designed originally to be convertibles (like the Miata) have additional box sections running around them in areas where typical cars won't have them.

As a result, adding lots of reinforcement to a convertible body can make it strong in one, or a few, modes, but will still flex pretty freely in others (that A-pillar top moving separately from the floor is a common occurrence on convertibles because of this).


Some thoughts:
- remove the interior trim and windshield and have puddle welds added between all of the spot welds in those major flanges around the door openings and the windshield opening. Modern cars are being made this way to get additional body rigidity without adding any weight (there's a limit to how close spot welds can be made in mass production so the extras have to be made by secondary steps, like laser stir welding, but you can do this for very low cost with puddle welds).
- while the interior is out, stitch weld along all the major seams (this is how race car bodies are prepared from production shells).

Both of those options take a LOT of labor, and time, so aren't going to be cheap, unless you do it all yourself. Whatever benefit they will provide is TBD (no one has ever tried it, that I know of, but logically they should help some).

One other idea: I can't remember if there was a bolted on cross brace under the floor or not. If there is, you can make sure its fasteners are tight.

Not sure if this stuff is helpful or not, but I worked around convertibles a lot, early in my career and these are some of the things I learned back then, when every OEM was having their coupes chopped into convertibles by outside suppliers like your dad's Solara was, by ASC (Toyota didn't make it a convertible themselves, they hired ASC to do it).

Norm
 

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I remember ultraracing has a full set of body braces. You can try that. Your Solara should already has a strut tower brace. Also you can install Whiteline front and rear sway bar, which are bigger and stronger than OEM. Finally, I think Moog end links are beefier than OEM. Not much other than that. Camry is not a hot spot for aftermarket mods.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
What is the problem that you are hoping to solve?

If your dad has owned it for 10 years, has he noticed any decline in its rigidity?

They started out pretty flexible, like when driving down the road if you put your hand on the top of the A-pillar you can sometimes feel it moving differently than how your butt is being moved by the seat below you. That's the nature of most convertibles due to lack of 1/3 of the body structure.

Regarding loosening up over time, all unit body cars fatigue as the years and miles add up, due to micro movement in the edges of the spot welds and some of them develop microscopic cracks, allowing more movement, and so on. A convertible is going to do this more so.

One tell-tale of a badly deteriorated convertible body is if the door rear edges are hitting the B pillar (that would be bad body sag).

The big challenge with trying to add rigidity is that there just isn't any room to put more structure. So, thick, extremely heavy plates are sometimes used ("when there's no room for an efficient solution, throw weight at it"). Cars designed originally to be convertibles (like the Miata) have additional box sections running around them in areas where typical cars won't have them.

As a result, adding lots of reinforcement to a convertible body can make it strong in one, or a few, modes, but will still flex pretty freely in others (that A-pillar top moving separately from the floor is a common occurrence on convertibles because of this).


Some thoughts:
  • remove the interior trim and windshield and have puddle welds added between all of the spot welds in those major flanges around the door openings and the windshield opening. Modern cars are being made this way to get additional body rigidity without adding any weight (there's a limit to how close spot welds can be made in mass production so the extras have to be made by secondary steps, like laser stir welding, but you can do this for very low cost with puddle welds).
  • while the interior is out, stitch weld along all the major seams (this is how race car bodies are prepared from production shells).
Both of those options take a LOT of labor, and time, so aren't going to be cheap, unless you do it all yourself. Whatever benefit they will provide is TBD (no one has ever tried it, that I know of, but logically they should help some).

One other idea: I can't remember if there was a bolted on cross brace under the floor or not. If there is, you can make sure its fasteners are tight.

Not sure if this stuff is helpful or not, but I worked around convertibles a lot, early in my career and these are some of the things I learned back then, when every OEM was having their coupes chopped into convertibles by outside suppliers like your dad's Solara was, by ASC (Toyota didn't make it a convertible themselves, they hired ASC to do it).

Norm
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Wow ! That's allot to digest lol. Well he has put up with it all this time. That being said when we ride around in it ( secondary car, not primary ) he makes little remarks about how loose it feels and how you can't have windows up all the way because they wobble. Little things that add up. I rode around in the coupe version numerous times as I had a buddy with one. Felt like different vehicle. So I can persons some tasks mechanically on the car myself. Was not expecting to change vehicle entirely but hoping minimal task for fairly decent outcome. As far extra support from oem or modifying shop, it's been along time since I was underneath vehicle on a lift. I will have to look again. As door sagging, fortunately that is not happening.
 

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1993 Camry SE,V6-5MT
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After trying to swim through Ultraracing's unbelievably poorly designed website, I finally found they have 3 braces for the Gen 3 '92~'96 Camry, and for the Gen5 '02~'07 Camry, but nothing listed for either the Solara or for the Gen4 Camry. Frankly, most of what will fit the Gen3 will also fit the Gen4. 1 of the 3 braces they sell is the strut tower brace, which a convertible Solara most likely came with originally (I know the Gen5 ones did). If your dad's is missing it, a used one can be had from a scrap yard cheap, and it would be easy to put on.

Unfortunately, none of those 3 bars they make are likely to make all that much difference to a convertible, because they would work to improve stiffness between the usual sedan areas, not to replace what was lost when the roof was removed.

Previously I asked to check the underside for any additional bracing down there, just because I can't remember what they came with, and since the conversion was done outside (by ASC), the usual Toyota parts number reference systems don't show anything at all. One more thing I think I remember is there might be a brace across where the rear seat fold down would have been on the coupe. The brace would be bolted between the rear suspension towers, and tied into the floor. It might be necessary to unbolt the back seat back to get to it, to inspect it, but if it was loose that would allow the body to flex more than intended.


Norm
 

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Some areas that were strengthened on the 1965 Mustang, with which I am familiar. These would apply to your car as well.
Rocker boxes (lower sills/door opening) were larger in cross-section. (Made aftermarket coupe carpeting not fit.)
"Convertible plate", tied the driveshaft opening together on the bottom side (Missing on mine).
"Frame rails" were larger in cross-section (I add quotes, because there really aren't frame rails in the traditional sense.) Just for example, many Mustang coupes from '65 to '68 had the rear leaf spring mount come through the trunk floor. The convertible had larger, stronger 'frame rails' so this did not happen on convertibles.
One piece brace from firewall to strut towers.
"A" and "B" pillars were larger and stronger.
Gauge of sheetmetal used was occasionally larger (16 instead of 18, for instance).
All of this might, or might not have been done to your car. ASC is a reputable company, and have been doing this for decades. However, they do not have the factories financial wherewithal, and may have been working to a budget. Ford (and everybody else, prior to 1976) designed the cars as convertibles, not as cut-down coupes. Windows are different between coupe and convertible Mustangs, for instance.
 

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WOW, those Whiteline prices are unbelievably high, almost as much as the OEM parts (the OEM parts come as full assemblies, including the control arm, Whiteline's bushings are just just the bushings).

A bushing and the steel collar are probably $10 worth of parts.

I sure hope they are amazing bushings to justify charging that much.


Note that if the issue with the car is that the suspension is old and worn, a set of new bushings (either aftermarket "random tune" bushings, or a full set of OEM parts which were tuned for ride, handling and durability), can transform the car to feeling like new again (I've done it twice, with my 200k mile Camry, still rides and handles like new).

However, OP's original concern was for excessive flex in the body structure itself. Putting in firmer bushings will tend to make the body flex more, not less.
 
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