Range Rover  four-door convertible
Range Rover four-door convertible

Converting to a convertible

Do you love the wind-in-your-hair ride of convertibles but lust after a car that’s sold just as a hardtop? Until lately, your only options were to forget about the convertible or forget about the car.
Not anymore. Two U.S. companies will turn your hardtop  into the convertible of your dreams. We’re not talking about some hokey bolt-on ragtop that howls in the wind and doesn’t keep out the rain. No, these are carefully crafted conversions that retain the look and finish of the original cars.
Turning a hardtop into a convertible isn’t easy. Sawing off the top is just the start, because on today’s cars, the roof is integral to the entire structure. “If you remove just the hardtop, you might find your car sagging in the middle,” says Larry Moran of Florida-based Convertible Builders.
For Moran’s company, which specializes in Chrysler 300s and Dodge Challengers, the first task is to reinforce the chassis and frame to make up for the missing roof. The tops are hydraulically powered and use General Motors-style latches at the windshield line. The roofs are padded and insulated and have a headliner to match the car’s upholstery. The rear windows are large, heated and designed specifically for each model. Nearly all the original trunk space is available even with the top down.
Newport Convertible Engineering specializes in exotic challenges—how about a Chevy Tahoe or Range Rover convertible? It also takes on more straightforward projects like the BMW 740, Jaguar XJL and Teslas.
Owner Al Zadeh had planned to be a doctor but “I had a big problem with blood” so, instead of doing reconstructive surgery on people, he does it on cars. His company has grown from one shop in Southern California to include facilities in Dubai and Spain and the business has expanded from converting hardtops to providing falcon-hunting vehicles for sheikhs and armored cars for VIPs. 
Manufacturers have apparently taken note of the conversions. Chevrolet has started making Camaro conversions, Moran says. Newport Convertible’s conversions on PT Cruisers, meanwhile,  ostensibly encouraged Chrysler to offer its own convertible.
What does a convertible project cost? At Convertible Builders, the Challenger starts at $18,000 and the Chrysler 300 at $21,000, but final prices depend on the options and accessories you choose. Newport Convertible declines to cite prices, saying each project is individually bid because the cars can range from Ferraris to classic Cadillac DeVilles. At both companies, projects typically take four to six weeks.

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