Hooniverse Asks: What fixed-roof car should have been offered as a convertible?

Convertibles offer a unique experience that no other type of automobile can replicate. With mother nature as your hairstylist and over 90 million miles of headroom, open-air driving gives an unrivaled sense of freedom. Many automakers have capitalized on this, offering convertible versions of popular models. Some have taken this idea one step further and offer certain vehicles as only convertibles.

Occasionally, however, a carmaker misses the boat. Not just any boat, but a cruise ship docked in the harbor, friends, and family on deck screaming at you to climb aboard. So, inexplicably, some models were never available as a convertible. Instead, buyers were stuck with a roof as inflexible as the company that designed it.

This problem has existed for decades. Though certainly not the earliest example, the Dodge Challenger has never been available as a convertible, except a few ultra-rare examples from the 1970s. Meanwhile, a substantial portion of contemporary Mustangs and Camaros are soft-tops. The Toyota GT86 and Subaru BR-Z twins were almost Miata competitors, except the Miata can let its professionally dressed hair down. Then there’s the FJ Cruiser, which — in typical Toyota fashion — was a more reliable alternative to a Jeep, but also a boring one, as its fixed-roof diminished its fun factor.

A few manufacturers suffer from the opposite problem. Some have created drop-tops out of vehicles that no reasonable person would ever want to be seen driving. In the early 2000s, you could buy a two-door convertible version of the Toyota RAV4, the Chevy Tracker, and the Land Rover Freelander. These failed, so in 2011 Nissan decided to have a go and created the Murano CrossCabriolet. Unfortunately, the only positive aspect of the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet is the smile it brings to the faces of car enthusiasts who spot them on the road and laugh at them.

Nissan, however, was far from the only automaker to shimmy together an ill-conceived convertible. There was the Toyota Solara convertible, which was about as cool as the surface of Venus. The Lexus SC430 was the last car sold with a cassette tape player — a fact that says everything you need to know about its consumer base. More recently, the Buick Cascada has been as popular as the U2 album that randomly appeared on your iPod.

Has every car that should exist as a convertible been made into one? Definitely not. What’s the next car that should take its hat off?

46 Comments

  1. Funny timing – just yesterday I got the Wrangler fully naked. No top. No doors. As I was cruising along, fully basking in the sun and the wind and a little Sadler Vaden blasting out the speakers, I realized my cheeks hurt from my GIANT smile. Aha! I stumbled on to the secret code to end all of our current societal problems: Convertibles! Let’s chop the roof of EVERYTHING! Ford Transit Connect? Just think how happy that FedEx guy would be. Jacked-up bro-trucks? Even the most hate filled redneck would suddenly feel the urge to hug everybody. Sure, there might be some weather related issues with my plan, but I think it’s worth a shot.

    1. At first, I misread your sentence as “just yesterday I got IN the Wrangler fully naked…” and it made me ponder how many naked people I have seen in Wranglers or CJs. Is that a lifestyle thing that draws nudists to Jeeps, or are there naked drivers in other vehicles that people don’t notice because of doors and stuff?

    2. A woman at church has a yellow 2 door Wrangler and spends most of the summer with no top or doors. She’s been caught in serious downpours and says the biggest problem with that is no wiper for the inside of the windshield.

      This summer is her first with a child so things may have changed. I suspect they take her husband’s 4 door Ram mostly now (he had a 2 door Wrangler too before the Ram).

  2. Tesla? With so many sold in Southern California, I would think they would sell quite well.

      1. Tesla can collab with NeuraLink and Solarcity and develop forehead-mounted tattoo solar panels

      1. I would expect hoses to prefer Mustangs or some other way to prance with ponies, but I guess not.

  3. Ugh… absolutely nothing. I’m not a fan of convertibles, roadsters, targas, or even vehicles with sunroofs. I had every variety of tops for my CJ-7, but in the summer I typically kept the hardtop on and just removed the doors.

    The better question from my perspective is: What convertible would look best with a fixed roof?

      1. I mean vehicles that were originally designed to be convertibles– not fixed-roof cars that have been clumsily carved into drop-tops. The MX-5, for instance, looks better to me in RF trim. I prefer the Cobra and the Viper with roofs, too. And I think the MGB Roadster is more appealing as the MGB GT.

        Few modern cars are designed to be convertibles first. Only the Wrangler, BMW Z4, and Fiat 124 come to mind immediately.

          1. I wish the Fiat 124 was available with a fastback roof. I don’t care much for the ND styling. It’s too… reptilian, maybe? I dunno, the MX-5 now is just too over-stylized, whereas the Fiat version has classic good looks.

        1. Modern cars are mostly designed to be CUVs. Fiat 124 gets its design cues from the Miata it’s based on, which, in turn is based on a Lotus Elan from 50+ years ago (Fiat 124 from 50 years ago is also an acceptable answer). Wrangler gets its design cues from WWII.

          A good looking convertible that looks better with a roof is the 55-57 T-bird (particularly after the porthole was introduced in 1956), but that’s an add-on hardtop and not a “fixed” roof. 63-67 Corvette coupe is better looking than the roadster. Beyond those, I can’t think of much else that doesn’t look better as a convertible when actually designed as a convertible.

          1. The Fiat gets its platform from the MX-5 but its design cues from its namesake of the mid-60s. Regardless, I interpret your suggestion to be that the only modern cars designed to be convertibles draw inspiration from decades-old vehicles. True enough maybe, though it’s not much more of a stretch to suggest that CUVs get their basic design cues from sedans of the 1940s.

            It’s funny that you mention the ’55-’57 T-bird, because I thought about that when I wrote my comment. Personally, I don’t like its porthole hardtop–or any other tops that look like “helmets”, including those of the C1-2/C4-7 Corvettes and Miatas NA/NB/NC. The short tops make these cars look like car-based pickups with bed lids. I give some exemption to the C3 Vette, whose flying-buttresses help extend the stubby top so that it blends better with the sweeping lines.

            So… back to the Z4. Being more of a fixed-roof enthusiast, I think it’s a shame that it got the (relatively) good looks, while its coupe Toyota sibling is a hideous goblin on wheels.

        2. A fixed roof S2000 (specifically an MGB GT/Z3 Clownshoe pseudo shooting brake S2000) would have been dy-no-mite.

  4. Mercury Marauder (as well as a Ford version) They did do a show car that made the rounds, somehow escaped the crusher and pops up for sale from time to time.

    The current Continental and the old Town car, but unlike the Marauder it needed to retain 4 doors.

    I’d also like to see the return of a small convertible 2dr pickup like my Scout II.

    1. The current Continental and the old Town car, but unlike the Marauder it needed to retain 4 doors.

      The current Continental and the old Town car, but unlike the Marauder it needed to retain suicide doors.

      FIFY

    2. The current Continental and the old Town car, but unlike the Marauder it needed to retain 4 doors.

      The current Continental and the old Town car, but unlike the Marauder it needed to retain suicide doors.

      FIFY

    3. There needs to be a return of the small pickup before there can be a convertible one. They’re all so damned big these days. I’d love to find a 1980-ish Toyota 4×2 that didn’t drain the savings account. Or any 70s compact pickup, for that matter… Mazda, Datsun, whatever. Just small.

  5. The Kia Soul seems to be begging for it. In the way that the late ninties Rav4 did it. It was easy to find images of concepts of it. I like the name of one of them “ConvertaSoul”. There were ones with a rollbar and ones without. I think the one with the rollball looks better. It just fits with the way the car is supposed to be a happy little gokart.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b911851965bc9a0c163061a37668330d3b554a9f0060749f1499d2c75ad054bd.jpg

  6. I challenge the image searchers and Photo Shoppers to produce a convertible Ford Econoline

  7. It would seem less inspired with the Gladiator already out, but a convertible Tacoma would probably shift a few units, and would probably come from the factory with Dakine (DaKine?) Stickers or accessories.

    Likewise, if GM is at all bothered by not being able to complete in the Wrangler/Bronco space, a removable or convertible rear roof on a Tahoe (even a 4-door) would at least be unique, although they’d probably end up building like a plus-sized Envoy XUV.

  8. A few candidates off the top of my head:
    -Porsche 928
    -Subaru XT
    -Eunos Cosmo
    -last-gen Viper
    -Cadillac ATS

  9. While I’m no VW fan, for the first time ever, there is no VW Golf convertible (or even EOS labelled one). That seems kind of odd not to have that fixture of motoring around anymore, but also says a lot about the appetite for convertibles.

  10. I’d love to see a Challenger convertible. The Mustang and Camaro have one, the Dodge should. It would harken back to the big American boat convertibles.

    Maybe for the the next iteration which sounds like it will be built on a smaller platform.

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