Haartz Cloth Is The Crowning Touch For Your Classic Car

The only thing better than a convertible with the top down is a convertible with a crisply tailored, perfectly fitted fabric top. Nothing finishes off the look of an open car better than with a high-quality cloth topping. Even if you don’t know much about automobile tops, most car fans have heard about “Haartz Cloth.” What’s more, the century-old company that produces the material has a fascinating history that is a quintessential American success story.

The Haartz Corporation makes convertible topping and interior trim materials. Founded in 1907 in Boston, Massachusetts, Haartz has been the leading supplier of convertible-top fabric for over 100 years. The company’s reputation for quality, durability, and innovation has made it a tier-one choice for car owners and manufacturers worldwide.

Haartz Corporation’s success can be attributed to several key factors. One of the company’s core strengths is its commitment to innovation. Throughout its history, Haartz has consistently introduced new technologies to improve the quality and durability of its products. This has helped the company stay ahead of the competition and maintain its position as king of the hill of industrial fabrics.

J.C. Haartz Company mill in East New Haven, Connecticut in the early 1920s. This facility was close to a key textile-dying supplier.

The genesis of Haartz Corporation can be traced back to the early 1900s when the company was founded by  John Haartz Sr., who grew up in Boston and became interested in the textile business.

Around 1907, John recognized the growth of the automobile industry and the trend to use all-weather materials on motor vehicles. He promoted a cloth top fabric that offered better looks and service than the materials then in use. Within a few years, he captured a significant industry market share.

Artist’s illustration of the J.C. Haartz Company plant in East New Haven, Connecticut, in the early 1920s.

Throughout the 1910s and 1920s, Haartz continued to improve its products. The company introduced new fabrics which were more durable and weather-resistant than earlier versions and offered better styling to match the evolving tastes of car owners.

Although Haartz supplied materials to major automobile manufacturers from the very start, relations with General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler strengthened in the 1930s. The company’s reputation for quality and innovation helped it secure contracts with these companies and it quickly became the leading supplier in the United States.

When larger-scale automakers made a lot of their components, many had divisions like this one at the Reo Motor Car Company’s plants in Lansing, Michigan. This scene, scanned from a circa 1915 postcard, shows how Haartz material would have been handled in a large-volume operation making tops and side curtains for touring cars and roadsters.

During World War II, Haartz shifted its focus to producing canvas for the military and was the only firm authorized by the War Production Board to make replacement top material for civilian convertibles. The company manufactured a variety of products for the war effort, including top materials for military vehicles, and coated fabrics for electrical tape and life rafts. When one thinks of the “Arsenal of Democracy” the Big Three automakers retooling to build tanks and planes come into mind, but Haartz and other companies were just as instrumental in helping win WWII.

Production scene at the Haartz rubber-calendering machine (a particular type of fabric coating machine, crucial to Haartz Cloth production through much of the 1900s). This photo was taken in the early 1950s.

After the war, Haartz resumed its civilian production. The postwar boom in synthetic textile fibers and in coatings polymers brought changes, technological advances, and many adventures to the business. The industry shift to vinyl-coated fabrics was a profound change for Haartz, but they adapted, relocating from inner-suburban Boston to Acton, Massachusetts in the mid-1960s.

Cloth top material all but vanished from the auto industry, but Haartz continued a small line of these fabrics, supported for a time by the antique-car market and a few industrial fabric applications. Supporting the minor markets for such materials brought the term “Haartz Cloth” into vogue.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the new generation of German convertibles brought increasing foreign competition.  Haartz responded by updating the cloth top material options, first with Stayfast and then with its sister line, Twillfast, both of which are still widely used today.  These Haartz products are made right here in the U.S.A. as well.

In recent decades, Haartz has continued to evolve and adapt to changing market conditions and auto industry globalization. The company has expanded its product line to include materials for automotive interior trim applications and some non-automotive materials. With the ascendency of O.E. interior trim materials, Haartz developed a more global business footprint, with subsidiaries in Germany and China, and a European business alliance. Haartz has also embraced new technologies, particularly computer-based technologies, to improve the accuracy and efficiency of its manufacturing processes.

Today, Haartz Corporation retains its crown as the leading supplier of automotive convertible material products worldwide. The company’s products can be found in a wide range of vehicles, from classics to modern sports cars. Haartz’s commitment to quality has helped it maintain its position as a leader in the automotive industry for over a century. Another important factor in Haartz’s success is its focus on customer service.

The company has always been responsive to the needs of its customers, whether they are individual car owners or large automobile manufacturers. Haartz’s sales and support staff work closely with customers to ensure that they are successful with the projects and builds. Looking to the future, Haartz Corporation is poised to continue its success as the 800lbs gorilla in the materials space.

The company’s resilience to challenges over the years will continue to be the key to its success in the years to come. Remember, Haartz makes the material sewn into finished tops by third-party vendors. The great thing about this is you can choose a known supplier that you’ve dealt with before or your local convertible top upholsterer.

When it comes to replacing the convertible top on your Corvette, classic car, or Rolls Royce, stick with the defacto leader in the industry, Haartz. You can learn more about Haartz right here on the company’s website.


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About the author

Dave Cruikshank

Dave Cruikshank is a lifelong car enthusiast and an editor at Power Automedia. He digs all flavors of automobiles, from classic cars to modern EVs. Dave loves music, design, tech, current events, and fitness.
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