Cabriolets – When Open-Top Conversions Go Wrong

Open-top Cabriolet models based on everyday motors brings a touch of glamour to the masses. Although they are cheaper to produce than a purpose-built sports car, they still require a fair bit of re-engineering and tweaking. The other issue is that designers are constrained by an existing shape they have to work around. Despite this, there have been many successful conversions from tin top to rag top. However, some are not so successful…

Vauxhall Corsa Cabriolet

Vauxhall’s first open-top conversion was the Cavalier, an unlikely candidate for the Convertible treatment (imagine a Mondeo or Montego Convertible). However, the Cavalier was a pretty successful conversion; although how much glamour it can add to a repmobile is debatable. In 1998 they launched the Corsa Cabriolet, their first and only supermini, open-top until the recent Adam Rocks Air. The Corsa Cabriolet was only on sale in UK for one year, which is no surprise, as it looked like a home-made conversion. The Corsa looked like the conversion was done on the back of a cigarette packet rather than a supercomputer that one would expect a billion pound company like GM would use. Converting from a hatch is generally not a good idea, although VW pulled it off with the Golf. If you must have one then make sure it is a Black model.

Chrysler PT Cruiser Cabriolet

The Chrysler PT Cruiser was one of the first retro-styled production cars. It looked nothing like any other family car. It was the car to have; Chris Evans even had one when they were launched. Four years later, in an attempt probably to re-gather interest in the car, the Convertible was launched. It was the cheapest open-top USA car on sale in the UK, not that there were many anyway. The results were a dumpy, frumpy pram of a car. Another unsuccessful hatch conversion. PT obviously stands for Plainly Terrible.

Toyota Celica Cabriolet

The Celica Cabriolet was the first to appear in Toyota UK price lists. Previous models were approved Sunchaser conversions. Hood down, the Celica made for a very elegant car. Trouble is, with the hood up the roof was cheap, nasty and fussy. Both the BMW Baur Cabriolet and Jaguar XJ-SC showed better execution of the same format. Exposed hood studs are not a good look. The Celica Cabriolet was not based on the hatch but the 2 door coupe, which was not UK available). Only around 250 were sold in the UK and availability was limited to three colours: Black, White or Red. Later Celica Cabriolets were much better but just as rare.


Looking at the above cars. I doubt that any of you would honestly drive one of these crazy conversions in the modern day. It is safe to say that Cabriolets have come on a long way in 10 years. Take a look at the DS 3 Cabrio as an example. There is little to no compromise allowing you to enjoy a sunny day, but still not be worried about the hood not keeping you dry in the wet and most importantly the cars good looks aren’t effected at all.

Citroen DS3 Cabrio (58)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *