I remember once sitting in rendering class (rendering is the manual application of light to a drawing using various media) when my elderly professor, Frank, sketched up a car and applied a bright shine to the tires. A girl in my class asked Frank why tire shine ‘was a thing’. Frank–who is in his seventies–took his fine brush of white paint off of the paper and looked at her, confused. Nobody had ever questioned the merit of having glossy black tires. After thinking for a moment he said, “Because it looks sharp!”
I only remember this because It reminded me of when my Dad explained vinyl roofs to me when I was a kid. Initially, he told me and my brother that the vinyl roof was meant to make a regular coupe look like a convertible. We said that didn’t make any sense, because not only were convertibles lame (I was wrong in that regard, obviously), but the car in question was obviously not a convertible–especially if it had four doors and was not a Lincoln Continental.
My dad clearly saw our point, but seeing as we are all from New Jersey, we argued about it for the rest of the drive. Finally, he relented and just repeated the same thing my professor Frank said.
Does it look sharp?
On plenty of cars from the 1960s and 1970s, the vinyl roof doesn’t look out of place. Cracks began to appear in the 1980s and 1990s. The styling of American cars changed–mostly for the worse. The vinyl roof that once made a car seem elegant and ‘sporty’ now just looked like a bit of black plastic stretched over the car’s roof. It seemed the trend was being kept alive solely by retirees.
I mean, in theory, you wouldn’t even need to use a vinyl covering at all. You could just paint the roof of a car black, and get the same effect. In fact, that would probably look even better because it would be glossier. It would probably be cheaper, too, and I think if you d-
A Tweeted Prophecy
Most things on Twitter are not worth reading, but needless to say most of the car-related content is. That’s really where this whole theory came from:
This tweet is from Joe Ligo, who runs the excellent AutoMoments Youtube channel. He’s somewhat obsessed with AMC and other defunct automakers, which is why the vinyl roof is likely floating around in his mind constantly. His cheeky assumption is that the return of the vinyl roof is only a few years away, but I don’t think it ever really left.
There’s a lot of examples.
Apparently, every single Mini Cooper comes with the option of a blacked-out roof, free of charge. I didn’t really believe this, so I went on their website to spec one up. Mine’s British racing green, of course. I got the white stripes on the hood because I’m a dumb kid and I could probably get away with it.
Anyway, I’m not really sure why I was so skeptical the whole black roof thing was true, but it is. I looked through every model (even the deuce and a half-sized Countryman) and there are multiple color options for the roof. Another thing I noticed was that even the most stripped out, base model Cooper (or the top-trim John Cooper Works) wasn’t available with a stick. I’m not a Luddite or anything, but shouldn’t a Mini be offered with a stick? I could be wrong, but I remember that just a few years ago they sold the most manual cars as a proportion of their total sales. The explanation they give for the lack of a stick is pretty piss-poor also:
What does that even mean? That’s pretty much like saying, “because it do be like that.”
LET’S KEEP ROLLING
Other cars to have modern vinyl roofs that Joe mentioned are the Camry and Rav4. Land Rover also offers every single one of their models with a black roof. This includes the new Defender:
Motor1 actually wrote an article about this. It’s not that extensive, but it lists a lot of cars you wouldn’t think to have this sort of thing. The most surprising one for me (I wasn’t that surprised but whatever) is probably the i3. You can get those used pretty cheap now. Maybe I’ll buy one and nail some vinyl to the roof–see if anybody notices.
What do you think of my theory?
Did the Vinyl roof ever leave? I don’t think it did. I think black roofs have always been cool and it’s just adapted into paint instead of an actual covering. Let me know what you think in the comments.