Monday, August 18, 2008

$30k Collection The Mr T-Top

'Take off the top' replaces 'put the top down' as the call to arms to let the wind flow thru your lady's locks and the sun to beat down on your bald spot. The T-Top which today has acquired a rather declasse reputation was in fact designed by the guy who designed some of the most beautiful American cars, Cords. So, take that T-Top mockers. Think of it as an early Cezanne or late Kubrick film. Sure, a master worked on it, but it wasn't their best.

Rattly. Leaky. Drafty. Ugly. All reasons thrown out as calls to avoid a car that sports a top that looks like the back of weightlifters tank-top. A reason to buy one is not, as the original designers thought, safety. A thong's worth of metal is not going to keep you safe in a roll over. No way. No how. About the only reason I think to buy a car with a T-Top is to be able to use the windscreen and back portion as a point to leap into your car with the doors shut. Or, if you are a confident chap, use the T-Tops as a means to show the world your complete 80's style. 

Bonus points to bronzed glass versions.

1978 Camaro. This is T-Top execution at its best. Figure $15,000 for a decent Z28. Some would say that the Corvette, the first production car to use T-Tops, is the right ride for these removable panels. I disagree. The Camaro which got the option of T-Tops in 1978 brought the removable roof to the masses. In 78, granted it was and is cool. Just look how much fun those people in the above ad are having. It is impossible to have that much fun in a car with a full complement of sheet metal. Best to save for a manual transmission Z car as the base 305 and straight 6 are dogs. And damn the originality, just make sure the seals in the Top have been renewed.

1984 Monte Carlo SS. Set aside $10k and you will get a top of the line Monte Carlo SS. And I really do think all original versions will creep up in value. Especially the black versions with blacked out T-Tops. They still look tough. Unfortunately, the L69 HO 305 is not that tough. What with its tire chirping 180HP and 225ft/lbs of torque. The T-Tops did add a bit of the boulevardier to the car but when you were 26 and just got back from a trip to Sandals and were going to be promoted to shift supervisor this car was it. But as a car with genuine a NASCAR link and a bad boy image, the Monte SS is a car with presence. A hard think to find at this price point.

1986 Nissan 300ZX. Use your remaining $5k and try to figure out why people love these things so much. The 240Z and 280Z are pretty cars. As a rule though, Japanese performance cars from the '80s are hideous. What Porsche got so right with the 944, the Japanese go so wrong with the Z. At least with turbo power it could get out of its own way thanks to 205HP. But if tuning is your game, the Z is the car to get as the power that is possible on this platform is amazing. Think 400HP and more. But for $5k go for a drive at night, pop out the Tops. Set the shocks to firm and sing your favorite Eddie Murphy hit. Mine is Party all the Time. Party all the Time. Party all the Time...


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