What Are the Greatest Convertibles of All Time?
When it comes to cars, nothing is more stylish than a convertible. There’s something about the wind racing through your hair as you drive that instills a sense of freedom, and everyone can get behind it.
These convertibles are considered some of the best ones ever made. Trying to purchase one of these nowadays will cost an arm and a leg, but for collectors, it's worth every penny.
Lincoln Zephyr Continental
Ford Motor Company President Edsel Ford once said, "Father made the most popular car in the world. I want to make the best car in the world." In 1939, the first line of Lincoln Zephyr Continental was released to rave reviews from critics. Famed architect Frank Lloydwright even considered it to be the most beautiful car in the world.
Alfa Romeo Spider
Launched in 1966, the Alfa Romeo Spider almost went under a different name. Alfa Romeo created a contest to give the car a different name, with the winner getting a free car. While Guidobaldo Trionfi won, his suggestion of "Duetto" was shot down due to copyright issues.
In 1960, the Chevrolet Corvair was introduced to the public as an economy car. Because of its low price tag and stylish look, the car quickly became a success with 200,000 vehicles purchased in its first year. By 1965, one million cars were bought by consumers.
Austin-Healey Sprite Mark I
The Austin-Healey Sprite Mark I drew some criticism for its design when it was released in 1958. The headlights were placed on top of the bonnet, which led to it gaining the nickname "bugeye." Despite its appearance, however, the vehicle earned Austin-Healey a reasonable profit.
Chevrolet Bel Air
Before Will Smith made Bel Air cool, Chevrolet took to the streets with the Chevrolet Bel Air. The first model of the car featured a non-detachable roof, which was a rarity at the time. The feature led to fewer vehicles being sold during its first year.
Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse
Bugatti expanded on its popular Veyron line with 2012's Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse, which premiered at the Geneva Motor Show that same year. The first model was released for a whopping $2.2 million, which is part of why many people never even heard of it.
Italian designer Giovanni Michelotti had a hand in developing the Triumph Spitfire, which was released back in 1962. The car got its name after the Supermarine Spitfire World War II fighter plane. The Mark I sold around 45,000 vehicles.
The Cadillac Eldorado was created for a special competition within General Motors. The name was suggested by secretary Mary-Ann Marini, who had a background in marketing. While it was originally meant to be a limited-edition car, strong vehicle sales changed things.
The Ford Mustang is one of the most recognizable cars of all time thanks to James Bond. The vehicle was prominently featured in the films Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever. During its first year on the market, the Ford Mustang sold 121,538 vehicles.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
The second generation of Chevrolet Corvettes introduced the world to the Sting Ray. Developed by iconic designer Larry Shinoda, the vehicle turned heads with its hidden headlamps, four-wheel disc brakes and independent rear suspension. After 1967, the vehicle was restyled the Stingray.
Following two years of production, the MG MGB was finally released to the public in 1962. This vehicle introduced drivers to the concept of crumple zones, which protect the driver from high-speed impacts. The car could go from zero to 60 mph in 11 seconds.
Ferrari 275 GTS/4 NART Spyder
Ferrari wanted to give their 275 GTB/4 model a special upgrade. In 1967, they delivered big time with the 275 GTS/4 NART Spyder. This car was named after Luigi Chinetti's North American Racing Team. While 25 vehicles were ordered, only 10 were produced due to poor sales.
Volkswagen and Porsche joined forces to create the Porsche 914 in 1969. Back then, Porsche had a contract with Volkswagen to handle its product development, with one last vehicle due before the contract was concluded. Volkswagen selected the 914 project because it wanted a new sports coupe.
Norm Grabowski brought Ford's T-Bucket to back life in the 1950s, and hot rods haven’t been the same since. An appearance on the hit show 77 Sunset Strip drew a slew of new eyes towards this vehicle. While it's visually appealing, the engine has cooling issues.
Pagani Zonda Roadster
Italian car manufacturer Pagani upgraded its popular Zonda S 7.3 line with the 2003 Zonda Roadster. While the car had an open top installed, it still featured the same parts from the Zonda S 7.3. The original model only had 40 vehicles produced.
Taking inspiration from their own D-Type racing car, Jaguar began work on the E-Type Series. When released in 1961, it was praised for its sleek design. Designer Enzo Ferrari declared it "the most beautiful car ever made," and no one challenged his words.
The Studebaker Corporation turned investors' heads with their Lark compact car. Because bigger car companies didn't have compact cars yet, the Lark became a huge success with car owners. Over time, the Lark was reimagined as the Cruiser, Commander and Daytona.
Jeep Wranglers might fool people into thinking they're mainly SUVs, but they have all of the traits of a convertible. These vehicles are known for their top-notch handling and comfort. With anti-roll bars, it’s hard to flip the vehicle during an accident.
The Mazda Miata delivers incredible power for such a small frame. Debuting at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show, the vehicle sold an impressive 400,000 units during its first eight years. In Japan, the vehicle is known as either the Mazda Roadster or Eunos Roadster.
Lotus Cars had their first hit with the Elan, which was launched in 1962. The vehicle was a fan favorite because of its smooth acceleration, steering and handling. Celebrities who have owned a Lotus Elan include former talk show host Jay Leno and actor Paul Newman.
At 1995's Tokyo Motor Show, a select group got their first glance at the Honda S2000. Four years later, the vehicle had its official launch to commemorate Honda's 50th anniversary. The vehicle landed on Car and Driver's 10 Best list during its first year.
20 years after Porsche 914's final run, Porsche hopped back into the roadster game with the Porsche Boxster. Released in 1997, this vehicle saw a slew of cupdates, including updated windows, engine and steering wheel.
Upon its release in 1984, the Toyota MR2 became Japan's first mid-engined production car. Work started on the vehicle in 1979, and the public got their first peek at the 1983 Tokyo Motor Show. In 2007, Toyota ceased production of the vehicle following low sales.
Known as the AC Cobra in the U.K., the Shelby Cobra was a collaboration between AC Cars and Shelby American. Designed to compete against Chevrolet’s Corvette, the car found success initially, but decreasing sales forced production to cease in 1967.
Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet
The Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet stemmed from Wilhelm Karmann making changes to his Beetle. The former Karmann CEO transformed his Beetle into a four-seater convertible. After seeing his creation, Karmann decided to start production on the Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet, which included a folding top.
With the aid of American importer Max Hoffman, Mercedes-Benz delivered the SL-Class sports car back in 1954. For years, the abbreviation "SL" confused many in the car industry. While many believed it stood for "Sport Leicht," Mercedes-Benz stated it actually stands for "Super-Leicht."
BMW 3 Series
BMW found the perfect replacement for the BMW New Class with the BMW 3 Series. Unveiled in 1975, the first generation was hindered by its availability as a two-door sedan. Over the years, the BMW 3 Series moved to include station wagons and four-door sedans.
In the 30s, the Chrysler LeBaron made traveling smoother as a luxury car. Following 1941, the company saw a financial downfall, which led to fewer models made. In 1955, it saw a resurgence, kicking off a nearly 40-year run with impressive sales for Chrysler.
Following a ban on auto racing, Pontiac looked towards their Pontiac Tempest for inspiration on new designs. With a heavy focus on street performance, they used the Tempest as a template for the Pontiac GTO. Released in 1964, the car was considered to be the first big muscle car on the market.
When it entered the market in 1955, the Ford Thunderbird became the first personal luxury car. In 1959, it became a major part of NASCAR with several drivers hitting the track in the vehicles. Driver Bobby Allison walked away with 13 wins in his Thunderbird.