Thursday, September 17, 2015

Our Favorite Notable Convertibles by Decade: Part Two

Last time, we took a look at our favorite convertibles of each decade from the 1920s to the 1950s. We now follow up on that by taking you through our favorite notable convertibles by decade for the second half of the 20th century, a time when convertibles were all over the big screen and became a true status symbol.

1960s – Ford Mustang

The Ford Mustang exploded onto the American sports-car scene in mid-1964, and the vehicle forever changed what convertibles were all about: stylishly sleek yet within reach of the average person. In the first three months of production, more than 126,000 units were sold, and after a full calendar year, about 418,000 were being driven on U.S. streets. Of the original 1964 sales, 28,833 were convertibles. The 1964 Ford Mustang sported an inline six-cylinder engine with 210 horsepower, but it could be upgraded to a 289-cubic-inch Hi-Po Windsor V8 with 271 horsepower. With the Hi-Po motor, the car could accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, and it could hit the quarter mile in 15.7 seconds at 89 mph.

1970s – Alfa Romeo Spider Series 2

The Italian sports car manufacturer Alfa Romeo introduced the Spider in 1966, but the car was not perfected until the first Series 2 Spider, the 1750 Spider Veloce, was released in 1970. Its design gave British manufacturers a run for their money, and engrained itself in American popular culture with a number of movie and television appearances The first change was a redesigned body that dropped the elongated boat-tail of the Series 1. The 1750 Veloce is also notable because it was the first Spider to be directly imported into the United States, which made it much easier to acquire. In 1974 and 1975, two new models were introduced, which increased their versatility by adding two small seats in the rear. Engine choices ranged from a 1.3-liter twin cam I4 to a 2.0-liter I4.

1980s – Mazda RX-7

Like the Alfa Romeo Spider, it took Mazda a few years to get the RX-7 just right. It was originally introduced in 1978, but it wasn’t until the second generation, beginning with the Series 4 in 1985, when a convertible model would become available. The Series 4 Mazda RX-7 offered a brand new engine, a fuel-injected 13B-VDEI with 146 horsepower, and it could be turbocharged up to 182 horsepower. This model also had the benefit of an external makeover based on the Porsche 944, which was also very popular at the time. James Garner helped to promote this convertible through a series of television ads, and the car was known for offering the first integral wind blocker, which took the form of a panel that unfolded from behind each front seat.

1990s – Dodge Viper

The Dodge Viper was first introduced at the North American International Auto Show in 1989, and public feedback was so overwhelmingly positive that development and production began immediately afterward. At the time, both Dodge and Lamborghini were subsidiaries of Chrysler, so the latter was given the task of casting a prototype block for building an entirely new engine. The following year, a pre-production model was chosen as the pace car for the Indianapolis 500, and in 1992, it was finally released on the retail market. The Dodge Viper was a sports-car enthusiast’s dream. It could accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and hit 100 mph in 9.2 seconds. The Viper was a notable part of more 90’s bedroom posters and video games that everyone coming of age in the day of the Viper still holds a special spot for it in their heart.

Did we forget one of your favorites? Do you have any special memories of driving your convertible? Share with us in the comments or on our Facebook page!

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