While they appeared in concept form at one point in time, these drop-tops never made it to production.
There are plenty of convertibles that should never have been allowed to make it onto the road, chief amongst them being the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. But what about the cabriolets that were nixed before seeing the light of day? As you’ll discover from the list, carmakers on both sides of the pond have toyed with convertibles, introducing them in concept guise before wimping out of putting them in production, or in some cases keeping them hidden away for years. Here are five of our favorites.
In 1989, BMW engineers developed an E34 M5 convertible with two lengthened front doors that seated four. The drop-top M5 was very close to production right down to its price tag, but just a week before its debut at the Geneva Motor Show, BMW killed it off. The top brass at the Bavarian carmaker were scared the car would have led to demand for 5 Series convertibles, which, in turn, would have adversely affected sales of the drop-top 3er. In 2010, BMW revealed the prototype as part of the M5’s 25th anniversary celebrations, having kept it under lock and key for the best part of 20 years.
The Alfa Romeo GT was a successful coupe built between 2003 and 2010. Most people are aware Italian coachbuilder Bertone was responsible for its design, but few know the design house also built a one-off four-seat soft-top variant back in 2003. It was hoped the beautiful concept would convince Alfa Romeo to build the cabrio, and while it was under serious consideration, Alfa ultimately opted to build the Brera-based Spider instead. The Alfa Romeo GT Cabrio remained locked in Bertone’s garage until 2011 when it was revealed to the press for the first time. One can only wonder if the GT Cabrio would have been a bigger success than the modestly sold Giugiaro-designed Alfa Spider.
Built in 1935, Peugeot’s 402 Eclipse Decapotable was the world’s first production hard-top convertible. The French carmaker would go on to refine the innovation, with the popular 206 and 307 CCs and later with the 207 and 308 convertibles. Another world first was the Peugeot 407 Macarena, which was the first ever dour-door convertible with a retractable hardtop. Built by coachbuilder Heuliez, the car debuted at the 2006 Geneva Motor Show but never made it to production. And thankfully, neither did its name, which according to the press kit was derived from the folding glass hardtop’s design. “Two roof arches folding like the famous 'Macarena' dancer's arms," read the description.
From 2003-2004, Ford revived the Marauder name as a high-performance variant of the Mercury Grand Marquis sedan. The carmaker also built a one-off Marauder Convertible for the 2002 Chicago Auto Show to gauge the public’s appetite for a full-size convertible. Ford invested over $300,000 in the car, adding a supercharged 4.6-liter V8 rated at 335 horsepower under the hood, supposedly to offset the additional weight. The black gloss model came with 18-inch alloys, a lowered front suspension and reclining bucket seats clad in black leather. In 2010 it failed to sell in auction with a $50,000 bid and was later seen on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $75,000.
The most recent cabrio concept to face the axe is the Range Rover Evoque Cabrio. Having debuted at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, primarily to gauge public opinion, it appears positive feedback was insufficient for Land Rover to take things any further with the Range Rover Evoque Convertible Concept. At the time of its unveiling, design boss Gerry McGovern was confident the drop-top Evoque - dubbed the world’s first premium convertible SUV - would be highly desirable. That now appears not to be the case, so instead of chopping off the Evoque's roof, Land Rover will add a large opening sunroof.