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Friday 10th December 2010


OPEN SEASON: MORE T (TOP), VICAR?

PH picks out some more convertibles-that-aren't

A few days back, as part of our celebration of top-down winter motoring - the PH 'Open Season' - we brought you a random selection of nearly-but-not-quite convertibles.

But we deliberately ignored the whole realm of those semi-convertibles known as Targas or T-tops. So now, following huge public pressure (sort of), we've had a rummage through the PH classifieds, and we have gathered for you a small (and non-exhaustive) collection of topless cars with roofs that have a 'T' in their name.

First, however, a little clarification. According to that unimpeachable source of all that is accurate and true, Wikipedia, A targa-style top is a "semi-convertible car body style with a removable roof section and a full width roll bar behind the seats. The rear window can be fixed or removable, making it a convertible-type vehicle."


The same font of internet knowledge also says that "Targa tops are different from T-tops, which have a solid, non-removable bar running between the top of the windscreen and the rear roll-bar."

And by the way, we do know that Porsche has the trademark on the Targa name and so, in deference to the Porsche enthusiasts among you, we shall do our best to call non-Porsche Targa roofs targa-style tops. Honestly, there hasn't been this much difficulty over a 'T' since that problem with the colonials over in Boston...

Porsche 911 Targa


You can't write about targa-style open-roofed cars without including Porsche 911s, so this is where we kick off. Although Porsche wasn't actually the progenitor of this type of roof (the Triumph TR4 Surrey Top and the wonderfully named Saab Catherina both did the targa-style thing before Porsche), the boys from Stuttgart were one of the pioneers of the genre, as well a giving the Targa roof a name (and a trademark).

Fuelled by fears that full-on convertibles would be outlawed due to safety fears in the US, Porsche decided to take the roof off its 911 by fitting a removable piece between the A-pillar and B-pillar, and leaving the B-pillar as a roll hoop.

The Porsche 911 carried on with this style of roof right from the mid-1960s until the mid-1990s, so there are plenty to choose from. We merely picked this 1983 3.0-litre SC Targa because it looks in decent condition, and is up for a mouthwateringly affordable £11,495.


In 1996, Porsche switched tack with its Targa, creating a full-length glass roof that retracted into the rear window (we're not explaining that particularly well, but you probably know what we mean) a style that continues to this day. Early 993 Targa values are relatively soft (in 993 terms) as well - this 993 3.6 manual Targa is up for a notably reasonable £19,990, albeit with a fair chunk of miles under its belt.

Ferrari GTS
Of course it's only fair to also include at this point the Italian arch-nemesis of the Targa Porsches, the 308 GTS. These are perfect if you fancy a Ferrari from the late 1970s or early 1980s and, like Tom Selleck, you are improbably tall.


You see Ferrari 308s hail from an era when the Italians didn't believe in making cars beautiful and convenient, so the only way for a tall person to be genuinely comfortable in a 308GTS is to have that roof panel out. Plus you can hear the sonorous 3.0-litre 255bhp V8 all the better that way.

You can indulge your Magnum PI fantasies in a rather perfect-looking 308 GTS like this one for around £25k.

But Ferrari did the targa-style thing in the 348 and F355, too, so if you want to head back to the 90s rather than the 80s you can pick up an F355 GTS like this - an early example of the now-ubiquitous F1 gearbox - for something in the region of £40k.

Corvette


We move into T-top territory with our next choice - a meaty-looking 1974 C3 Corvette Stingray with a 350cu V8. This one, finished in a delicious metallic blue could be in your drive for fifty quid less than £10k.

If you want something a bit more modern, there are targa-style versions of the later C4 and C5 Corvettes - but they'll set you back a little more.

Toyota MR2 T Bar
At the proper budget end of things, there's always that Tokyo Ferrari, the Mk2 Toyota MR2 T-bar.


This - if you squint - will give you Ferrari-esque looks for a fraction of the cost. But be careful - it's becoming increasingly difficult to find UK examples that haven't received the misguided attentions of 'modders'.

They are still out there, though, as this rather lovely-looking £2495 94 M-plate MR2 T Bar - we hope - proves.

Author: Riggers