Evolution of the Drop-Top

by Abigail Knowles Wolfe (BPRW)

Evolution of the Drop-Top
African-American recording artists such as Usher and Will Smith have referred to cruising in drop-tops, or highly covetable convertible cars throughout the years. The pinnacle of glamour and prestige, the convertible has long been a Hollywood favorite, with stars from all walks of life photographed driving everything from vintage land yachts to six-figure Bentley confections. As fun and fabulous as convertibles are for cruising the proverbial sunset strip, the chief complaint people have with ragtops lays in the noise present when driving 75 mph on the highway. Ragtop convertibles are also more prone to theft from any passerby with an exacta knife and often allot a poor view from a skimpy rear window.

Hardtop convertibles have become the trend in higher end models due to their ability to better accommodate weather conditions, better handling capacity and top-up rigidity than soft tops. Enter three new hardtop convertible options: the BMW 330Ci, Volvo C70 and Volkswagen EOS. These cars are currently available in the United States with 2007 models ready to be admired in a showroom near you.

The higher end BMW 330Ci is not surprisingly the most expensive of the three with a basic price tag of around $50,000. The Volvo C70 runs just under $40,000 and the Volkswagen EOS around $30,000. Both the 330 and C70 use a three-piece hardtop that lowers in just 20 seconds, cleverly stowing the top while continuing to provide decent luggage space in the trunk. The EOS roof is interesting from a mechanical point of view as it is composed of five pieces and stows itself away in about 25 seconds. Putting down the hardtop nearly halves cargo space however, taking it from 13.4 cubic feet to 7.2 cubic feet.

The BMW 330’s most interesting feature is a specially treated kind of leather that reflects sun rays and it unique to the convertible. The leather is used on seats and arm rests to lower surface temperatures even on the hottest of summer days. The EOS offers some interesting options for its price range as well boasting cornering headlights and navigation systems often reserved for much pricier vehicles. The four-passenger Volvo C70 boasts the traditional reliability and safety features the Swedish automaker is known for including a floating dash composed of brushed aluminum. Development and design of the new 2007 Volvo C70 was a joint venture between Volvo and the distinguished Italian design studio Pininfarina.

All three cars present the style and quietness of a standard hardtop coupe that with the press of a button transforms itself into an open-air cruiser, creating the best of both worlds. With one amazing choice for a range of budgets, the hardtop convertible is still not a choice to be made hastily but a little bit of everyday luxury to be relished.
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