How to tell the difference between these top-down cars
We all know certain cars' roofs can be removed, but there are a lot of different names for the different top-down cars. Is a targa top or targa roof the same thing as a regular drop-top retractable roof, and what is the difference in the cabriolet vs convertible debate? Many people use these terms interchangeably, which only makes the confusion worse. This guide will help you to separate what makes each style unique so that you can impress your boss when you compliment him on his stylish open-top car.
First, we need to understand which of these terms are synonyms, as well as what each means because there are various types of convertible tops:
We've briefly mentioned the roadster and the speedster - the most hardcore type of open-top car. Besides having no roof at all, speedsters of 100 years ago often didn't even have doors or windshields. The whole premise of the body style is that it is light, small, fast, and open - very open. US legislation requires that modern cars must have windshields. Porsche has been playing fast and loose with the speedster nomenclature, with all its recent speedsters having lightweight, manually folding canvas roofs. However, these limited-run cars are sufficiently differentiated from the other Porsche convertibles in the range to qualify as modern-day speedsters.
If you just want to cruise the boulevards and you need occasional rear seats for small children, a four-seat cabriolet/convertible is ideal. For the most part, targa tops don't offer any improvement in passenger space but do have more cargo space in the trunk as there is no need to stop a folding roof. In the battle of targa vs cabriolet, it really comes down to what your needs are and the type of vehicle you want. Broadly speaking, convertibles are more luxury and comfort-oriented, while targas often boast more performance benefits.
When it comes to the choice between roadster vs convertible, remember that roadsters are roofless entirely, which means you won't be able to drive it in all weather conditions. Additionally, these are usually high-performance sports cars, while cars with retractable roofs like a regular convertible can be more comfortable, can be used daily, and still offer some sporty aspirations.
A convertible usually has one of two types of tops - soft or hard. A soft top usually weighs less, folds faster, and takes less space to stow, meaning that the vehicle will have more trunk space. Negatives include more wind noise and the fact that it's easier to break in through the soft canvas.
A folding hardtop is usually slower, much heavier, and more complex, but when closed, the vehicle has the refinement and security of a normal coupe. There are notable examples of fast and light folding hard-tops, like those manufactured by Mazda and Ferrari. Whether you choose a convertible with a hardtop or a soft-top will depend on your priorities and weighing up the above-mentioned pros and cons.
Although the lines between different drop-top cars have become blurred nowadays, they provide the option of wind-in-your-hair thrills, which makes for a more visceral motoring experience. Buyers in the USA have no shortage of options, with the only limit being how much they want to spend, whether it is a $3,500,000 Pagani Huayra Roadster BC or a $27k Mazda MX-5 Miata. The line-up of Mercedes convertiblesis huge, too, extending from around $55,000 to nearly $200,000.
In 1931, Georges Paulin first applied for a patent for a detachable hardtop, and his Eclipse hard-top design debuted on the 1934 Peugeot 401D Éclipse Décapotable.
It is believed to be the 1957 US Ford Crestline Skyliner. Its entire roof lifted off without folding and was stowed under a reverse-hinged trunk lid. The whole operation took only around six seconds but the system was complex and expensive, making for a near-$3,000 car - very expensive at the time.
The lifespan of a canvas top is difficult to predict and can be shortened by frequent folding and excessive sun exposure, for example. A good-quality canvas top with a glass rear screen can last decades with proper care and if parked indoors.
A worn soft top in need of replacement can reduce a car's value by thousands of dollars and make it a bargain, but you'll have to do your homework first to see if the cost of a replacement will be worth it. Some old, low-price convertibles' soft tops can be ordered for a few hundred dollars and replaced by a competent home mechanic. Others will cost thousands.