Converted Convertibles

There are niches and then there are niches within niches. Below we find the latter. Convertibles (as I’ve previously mused) tend not to be my cup of tea. I suppose they are a pretty big niche though. Some are versions of coupes with their top chopped off. A slightly smaller niche is drop tops (nearly always 2 seaters) that were designed as and are only available as wind in the hair merchants. I am deliberately overlooking the “niche” of the leaky, heavy, awkward looking folding metal roof brigade. My interest here lies in the coupes that were developed from cabriolet roots. Surely the nichiest of them all? They are few and far between and I can only find one instance where I prefer the source car to it’s hardtop progeny.

I was recently teaching a guy to drive who came from a family steeped in motor racing in particular and all things cars in general. The first time I picked him up I noticed a BRG Triumph GT6 parked outside. I just couldn’t help myself commenting on this pretty and rare car. “Oh that’s my project” he told me. Truth be told it is a project but not without certain charms, in particular a gorgeous set of alloys and some work (including a lovely exhaust) already in place. His car set my cogs whirring and I started thinking of hardtops that were spawned by convertibles that were only ever intended to be convertibles.

This is a beautiful car. Perfect wheels and surely BRG was invented specially with this car in mind?

Without resorting to google I could only think of four others. I’m sure there are plenty of others but the more I read and write about cars the more I realise (despite my undimmed passion) how little I know about them. The other four that sprang to mind were the MGBgt, Mercedes SL Black and the two Beemers (Z3 and Z4).

This offends my delicate sensibilities!

The SL is an ultra rare high performance version of a grand tourer. I’ve never seen one. According to the internet it is significantly lighter than the standard model (which I suppose is what the L is meant to be about) and despite being a bit too shouty for me the roofline looks much better without the origami business up top. I was never a massive fan of either the Z3 or 4. Stick a shooting brake on the back though and I absolutely love them. The Z3 is sometimes dismissed as a clown’s shoe but I love the long bonnet coupled with the short stubby tail giving minimal overhang. A set of dished alloys set it off perfectly. As for the Z4, it’s one of only 2 Bangle era cars that don’t (really really badly) hurt my eyes. (The other is the 1 series in all it’s forms but specially the coupe).

Call it a “Clown’s Shoe” if you like but I love it.

This leaves the MG. Everyone’s favourite starter classic. Not mine although a straight 6 MGC might be nice. I’m probably being unfair but it’s seems to me it must have looked old fashioned even when first produced in the early sixties. The undeniable charm it had though was totally lost when they made the GT hatchback version. This is the only time where I feel the original ragtop looks nicer than the coupe version. I’m obviously in the minority as I still see many roadworthy specimens tootling around. When you consider BL’s build quality during the ’70s this speaks volumes for people’s love for this car (and also to the existence of plentiful spares).

I get it (really, I do) but I have to say I don’t really like it.

So once again despite trying to generate goodwill towards the cabriolet species I can’t really muster any enthusiasm for them. What’s wrong with a sunroof eh?

 

16 thoughts on “Converted Convertibles”

  1. There are a lot of truisms in your Deeply Conflicted post …. but it’s still good to get the wind in your hair (and insects in your teeth, sunburnt head…..). Been wracking my brain to think of another convertible turned coupe but think you’ve captured them all. Not doubt someone somewhere will be able to come up with another one.

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    1. I keep trying to like convertibles but I continue to come up short. The downside always seems way bigger than any upside. Perhaps I’m lacking the romantic gene but I just can’t generate any real love for drop tops. I promise to continue trying.

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    1. Certainly it fits into the niche within a niche category. I quite like the look of it also. Is it a true, proper coupe though? Those targa roofs work for me but not sure if it makes the grade here.

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  2. Those BMWs were quite striking and I prefer them to the convertibles. You might think they’d have had more impact. The pattern is that the launch reviews are washes of ecstasy (more rigid chassis, they swoon) followed by apathy from the public. The Z4 thing I saw in February stopped me in my path and it seemed amazing more didn’t buy them. Multiplas have a bigger following. You can see why management says no to these kinds of non-image building showroom placeholders.
    There must be one due soon.

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    1. Hopefully we will see a new one soon, although with the 2nd gen Z4 having a metal folding roof it might not be from our friends in Munich. There aren’t all that many cars out there currently that might lend themselves to this treatment. I don’t think the mx-5 would wear a shooting brake as well as the Z4.

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  3. Where does the venerable T-bar sit in all this. Some great Yankee motors like the firebird and the vette were available in T-bar form. Not sure which came first though the hard top or the T-bar.

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    1. You’ve thrown the cat amongst the pigeons there Clex. I’ve always quite liked those T bars. The 911 targa always appealed to me way more than a convertible. My gut tells me that they started life as a hardtop but I’m not basing that on anything stronger than a hunch.

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