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1997 Chrysler Dual Cowl Concept - side view

Worst Attempts at Making a Four Door Convertible

Videos Guaranteed to Blow Your Mind

Many people wonder why we don’t see more four-door convertibles roaming the streets, and the reasons are simple. The main reason is that a four-door convertible normally has issues with body integrity. Not in the sense that it has self-confidence issues or doesn’t feel sexy in that little blue dress anymore, but rather, it genuinely needs more reinforcement than a traditional car with a traditional roof. Generally speaking, convertibles handle worse, take crashes worse, and are more susceptible to a warping chassis or bending frame issues than a regular car because it is less structurally sound. Even two-door examples such as the Nissan 370z convertible suffer the same problem, and the issue is even more present when it’s a convertible sedan we’re talking about. That hasn’t, however, stopped manufacturers from attempting to make them.

Let’s take a look at some four-door convertible styles that have been available in the past, a few that never made it past the concept stage, and then a quick peek at what the do-it-yourselfer attempts resulted in. To be clear, not all of these cars are actually bad…just most of them.

Lincoln Continental Convertible

 

In 1961, the fourth-generation Continental was available as a sedan or convertible model. It also has the infamous suicide doors that hadn’t been on a Lincoln since 1951. With this layout, the convertible used a hidden pillar to support the roof structure.

What made this vehicle most famous was that it was Jackie O’s personal drop-top. In fact, you could have seen one parked at the White House garage while Kennedy was president. You might also recall it was in a modified version of this very car that said president met his end. You may have also seen it in the movie Goldfinger, starring Sean Connery as James Bond.

What was most impressive about this vehicle was the powertrain. Under the hood, you’ll find a 430-cubic-inch V8 that produces 300 horsepower. It came paired with a three-speed automatic transmission that sent power to the rear wheels.

Out of Lincoln’s history, the fourth-generation Continental is still considered to be one of the most sought after, and quite possibly the best execution of a four-door convertible to date.

VW type 181

 

You may know the VW Type 181 better as the Volkswagen Thing. This two-wheel drive, four-door convertible was available in the United States from 1973 until 74. It was dropped from the lineup for 1975 because it failed to meet strict US safety standards. One of the reasons it failed was due to the Windshield Intrusion Rule where the DOT called for a larger distance between occupants in the front seat and the glass.

The Volkswagen Thing has been seen in countless TV shows and movies over the years. Some of these include The Pursuit of Happyness, Good Burger, The Hitchhiker, Sudden Impact and American Pickers. While most four-door convertibles are a bad idea, Volkswagen actually ended up creating one of their most iconic pieces with this vehicle which is adored by many in the automotive world.

Jeep Wrangler

 

I know that the Jeep Wrangler is an SUV, but considering the roof comes off and you can get one with four doors, doesn’t that make it a four-door convertible? Okay, maybe there will be some argument related to that, but it seemed fitting to throw it in the list anyway.

Nothing says adventure quite like a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Despite many consumers claiming that the seating is uncomfortable, the fuel economy is poor and the rear seats are cramped, it continues to be one of America’s most loved vehicles.

Maybe it’s due to the unique quality of being an off-road vehicle and four-door convertible? As far as this niche is considered, the Wrangler is probably one of the sturdier offerings ever seen in the segment, and is our final example of how to do things the right way.

1997 Chrysler Dual Cowl Concept

 

This four-door convertible concept was inspired by the 1940 dual cowl Newport parade vehicle used to transport elite families and dignitaries. Chrysler planned to take a car that was meant for the wealthy and turn it into something practical, that anyone could drive.

As you and I both know, this never happened. While it may have never made it to production, you might remember the look from Gran Turismo 2 back in the day. It was offered as a special vehicle that could only be put in your garage if you won it.

Chrysler 300C Helios

 

American Specialty Cars (ASC) was an engineer of roof systems and body systems for the world’s automakers. They had been one of the main coach convertible builders over the years but ceased operations in 2016.

Prior to that, in 2005, ASC unveiled its ideas for a convertible version of the Chrysler 300C. They named it the ASC Helios 300. For quite some time, people were convinced that they were going to enter production, but it never came to be.

Given what some people have said about their ownership experience with the 300, it’s probably for the best that this four-door convertible never saw the light of day.

Do-it-Yourself Four Door Convertibles….or Don’t

Your brain might tell you that if you can’t find what you are looking for, you should create it. I’m here to tell you that your brain is wrong – because we are friends and that’s what friends do.

Making your own four-door convertible seems like it should be a simple project. The problem, you say, is easy to fix. If you have a roof that you no longer want, simply hack or cut it off. After all, the Sawzall exists for a reason, right? The tools are available at any hardware store around and it could be a fun weekend project, but you probably aren’t going to be pleased with the results.

Our main concerns for you include, but are not limited to:

1) Ruining the structural integrity of your vehicle

2) Getting soaking wet

3) Slicing your hand apart in the process

4) Being saddled with a crippling regret that no amount of welding, duct tape, or krazy glue can remedy

Of course, if you have an old car lying around you don’t care about, this could be something fun to do with your buddies! To determine if this is a good idea for you, one must only look toward others that have tried the same project. Let’s see how the results panned out for a few brave souls around the internet, shall we?

So Easy a Kid Can Do It?

What are the lessons we can learn from watching this first video? There are just too many valuable tips we’ve gleaned from watching this kid cut apart his ride.

1) Don’t stand on the top of the car while cutting it off.

2) Wear protective gear so you don’t chop off a leg.

3) Don’t touch the sharp, jagged metal top with your bare hands.

4) Don’t use an actual woodcutting ax.

Obviously, this car is not a project, and he’s certainly not trying to rip the roof off his ride for a sweet custom sunroof or anything. No, it appears this is just some poor car in a scrapyard that got scalped by a bored teenager. Which is probably the best point of all:

5) Taking the roof off a sedan is something a bored teenager would do, so it probably shouldn’t be done in any serious capacity.

Get out from Under the Roof

I guess when you own a Lexus LS you can opt to do whatever you please with your vehicle. This guy chose the setting of StanceWars Belgium 2012 to stop living below his sedan’s roof any longer. With the help of his Sawzall, he gets the sheet metal off in less than eight minutes. Not too shabby!

So what lessons did we learn from this gentleman?

1) When you have more money than you know what to do with, you can destroy perfectly good vehicles and be okay with it.

2) Chop the top of the windshield and the supporting beams instead of cutting a square out of the roof like that last kid.

3) Prior to removing the roof on a luxury sedan, it might be a good idea to check the weather conditions.

4) Removing the roof of your vehicle is best done with a crowd of onlookers, which, again, should tell you a lot about the practicality of a four-door convertible.

Maybe the rain was his karma?

If You Have Too Much Time on Your Hands

In the next video, our host proudly tells us in the description that he has no trouble chopping apart this Audi 100 while his wife is out making the bacon. I guess if you have a lot of time to kill, turning your vehicle into a four-door convertible just makes sense…wait…no, no it still doesn’t make sense. But we’ll be damned if this guy isn’t gonna do it anyway.

So, what valuable lessons can we gather from this?

1) Use a handsaw to mark the spots you actually want to cut in to.

2) Have two extra vehicles minimum so you’re not required to drive a monstrosity as your daily.

3) Actually think about the seatbelts, how they attach to a part of the car you’re probably going to saw off, and where you’re going to reattach them after the fact.

4) Once you take off the top, force the lady who makes all the money to go for a “joy ride” in the car you hacked apart.

Wow, there was actually some almost useful information in that one, actually…maybe this isn’t such a bad idea after all…

Why Just Chop off the Top When You Can Do So Much More?

Chopping off the top of the Honda Civic wasn’t enough for these guys, they had time to do far more. Here are the valuable lessons we gathered from them.

1) Before you do anything at all, smash the rear window with a sledgehammer, because you can.

2) Record yourself removing the roof of your car so you can go back and make a bitchin’ 80’s montage with it.

3) Don’t mask anything with tape and spray paint the crap out of it in your driveway so the overspray picks up in the wind and gets on all of your neighbors not-shitty cars.

Could You Get Rich Making a Four Door Convertible?

In all fairness, these guys took their time to do the job as best as possible. Kudos to them for that! This SUV was rescued from the salvage yard with the sole purpose of becoming a four-door convertible. Let’s see what we can learn about making an open-top SUV.

1) Gut EVERYTHING.

2) DO NOT try to remove the roof on your own.

3) The job is easier if the parts are falling off by themselves.

4) Pick a vehicle that you might actually use at a ranch or for off-roading instead of your actual daily driver.

I’m not gonna lie, this one isn’t bad. I could definitely see this being a great ranch vehicle with a few more additions and adjustments. Some all-weather seat covers would be nice, too.

Get Your Dirty Toothbrushes Ready?

In this next video, you find out just how important having those dirty toothbrushes on hand can be. You’ll also learn:

1) It’s much easier to remove the top of a car if you have a helper.

2) You don’t need to scrap that old roof; instead, upcycle it into a coffee table.

3) The nuances of how to actually remove the roof of the car.

Honestly, this video is great because it’s the first one that features anyone actually even talking about what’s going on at all instead of the video just being some dude decapitating some poor vehicle. It’s also equal parts informational and bullshit, which is both helpful and entertaining.

Tips for Making Your Own Four-Door Convertible

If you are still convinced that making a four-door convertible is the way to go, here are some tips to help you out.

Avoid the Windshield – You need to know how close you can get to that glass without cracking it. Mark off three inches from the frame before sawing to be safe.

It will be Sharp – Remember that everywhere you cut will be sharp. Grab yourself an angle grinder to smooth the plastic and steel as much as you can.

Don’t Forget Those Seatbelts – When you take out the B and C pillars, you lose the anchor points for the seatbelts. You will need to come up with a plan for your safety. However, you’ve cut apart your vehicle yourself, which tells us that safety isn’t your first concern.

Flying Debris – Those Cheeto crumbs on the floor are going to experience their first round of wind power ever. When you go out for the first spin, expect insulation and debris to come flying from everywhere.

Consider the Doors – If you are serious about driving this car, you may want to just weld those doors shut. They probably aren’t going to open and close properly after the sawing anyway.

How about you? Have you made a homemade convertible and have tips to share with us? We’d love to hear them. If you haven’t yet designed a four-door convertible of your own, all you need to do is grab a few friends, a few brews, a willing car and a reciprocating saw and you’re good to go! Just make sure you record the ordeal so we can all enjoy a good laugh when it’s all said and done.

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Brian Jones
About Brian Jones

I am an ASE Certified Master Tech, but spend more time with my awesome family now than I do on cars. In my spare time, you'll still find me playing with tools, cars and many other "manly" gadgets.

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