#
It is currently Fri Sep 19, 2014 10:58 am


Post a new topicPost a reply Page 1 of 8   [ 147 posts ]
Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 8  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Coach Convertibles from 77-87 (Toyota,Datsun,Mazda,Honda)
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 9:56 am 

Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:10 am
Posts: 122
Location: KC,KS
Coach Convertibles from 77-87

Hello All, I am really enjoying this web site. Since I really love the vintage japanese cars but have no brand specific loyalty, this is the type of site I like.

I have been researching a subject that seems to have had very little written on it. That's the coach-built convertibles of the late Seventies and Eighties. They made convertibles out of a ton of different cars, including: Camaro/Firebird, Ciera, CRX, Lincolns, Cadillacs, Celicas, Mustangs, Preludes, Toronados, Century, Celebrity, Skylark, Fiero, TBird/Cougar, 280ZX/300ZX and the list goes on. These cars were sent to the coach builder as a new car by a new-car dealership to sell on their lot with full warranty or could be ordered directly by the car owner from the coach builder. When ordered by the new-car dealership, the conversion was considered a dealer-installed option, like rustproofing, a sunroof or air-conditioning, even though the dealership out-sourced the installation.

I have several magazine articles from the '77-82 era from Car & Driver, Motor Trend, Road & Track etc about these custom convertibles. They were somewhat popular and I remember seeing these on occasion on the streets (even in Kansas!). The most common seemed to be the Celica and 200SX convertibles, but you would see them all from time to time. When the popularity fell for the convertible in the early '70s, production also fell. 1976 was the last year for U.S. domestic convertibles and only a few 2-seat european imports were available to U.S. consumers. This left a nitch market for coach shops to engineer and produce affordable convertibles from a variety of new cars. Some of these conversions were produced in the thousands. By '83, a few manufacturers hired these coach companies to build "factory" convertibles (mustang, lebaron, etc), but they were nothing more than factory-authorized versions of the custom convertibles. They were also shipped to the coach shop to have thier top removed. As a result of these new factory-approved convertibles, the custom coach built convertible became less popular and production fell.

Most were built very well with numerous measures taken to stiffen the chassis, so don't reply with "those cars are a death trap" or "must flex like a rubber band". I own a Straman built CRX and it is just about as stiff and rattle-free as the hardtop. The top and body/interior modifications were professionally designed to look "from the factory" on all the conversions.

I wanted to start this thread to see if any of you have one of these or have information to add to what I listed below. Though these cars are not true "factory" convertibles, they can be considered "original" since they often came from the new-car-dealer with this conversion.

What you see below is the car model and the company that did the conversion. The year in the ( ) is the year I have found reference to a documented car. These are all cars converted for the U.S. market.

75-78 Datsun 280Z Steas Industries(78)
79-83 Datsun 280ZX Belvedere Enterprises Inc(80) Steas Ind.(81,82) American Custom Coachworks(81) Giuliano Motors Ltd(82)
84-89 Nissan 300ZX Straman(83,84,85,86,88)
90-96 Nissan 300ZX (factory conv for 93) Straman(90,91)
80-83 Datsun 200SX Sparlingco(82) Intermeccanica(82) American Custom Coachworks(81,82,83)
78-81 Toyota Celica Griffith Sunchaser(80,81) California Coach Co.(81) Grandeur Motor(80) Sparlingco(81) American Custom Coachworks(80,81), Grandeur Motor Corp.(80,81)
82-85 Toyota Celica (factory conv for 84) Sparlingco(83), Griffith Sunchaser(82)
80-83 Toyota Corolla Convertible Specialists Inc.(82) Sparlingco(82,83) American Custom Coach(83) Matrix3(83) Griffith(82)
79-82 Honda Prelude National Coach(82) Solaire(82) Classic Touch(81) Tropic(Germany)(81)
84-87 Honda CRX Straman(84,85,86,87)
79-85 Mazda RX7 Pacific Avatar(79,82,83) Global Coach(81,83) Ultima
90-99 Mitsu 3000GT- (factory hdtp conv for 3000GT:95&96 only by ASC) Straman(91)
90-96 Dodge Stealth Straman(91,92) Coach Builders Ltd(92)
79-82 Mazda 626 Coupe Convertible Specialists Inc.(82) Sunset Coach(82)
80-84 Subaru GL Coupe Steas Industries(81,82,83)

I will be adding photos and new info to this thread, so keep checking in. If you have any info, photos or find one on the internet, post it here.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Coach Convertibles from 77-87 (Toyota,Datsun,Mazda,Honda
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 10:54 am 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Feb 08, 2007 8:04 am
Posts: 378
Location: Perth Western Australia
slimwhitman wrote:
Though these cars are not true "factory" convertibles, they can be considered "original" since they often came from the new-car-dealer with this conversion.


I'd like to see you argue that point with a car show official. :D

Dealer options like Air-con on cars where it wasn't installed at the factory will loose you points.

Anyway that aside, looking forward to seeing some pics and reading more about these 'verts that I never knew existed. Especially the Z/ZX convertibles.

_________________
...................www.nostalgictrio.com...................


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 11:10 am 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 5:33 pm
Posts: 90
Location: NYC
Welcome!

The 1992-94 Nissan 240SX convertible was built by ASC. There was also a JDM convertible but built by a local company and much cleaner than the ASC conversion.

Please post some pics of your CRX!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 5:14 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2007 11:22 am
Posts: 275
Location: Baltimore, MD
Ive seen a few converted honda n600, but they are all 70-71.

_________________
Andrew Thornton
71' Honda n600, 87' Acura Integra, 64' Honda C102, 88' Honda Hawk GT


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 5:33 pm 
JNC Enthusiast
User avatar

Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2007 10:02 am
Posts: 875
Location: The OC
This is an excellent topic! I commend you for taking on such a project.

Over the years we at TORC have received a number of inquiries regarding the various Toyota conversions that took place, especially the Celica Sunchaser. Just recently we had one member asking about his Matrix3 Corolla convertible. Alas we never had much info regarding any of these conversions and usually couldn't help people very much.

Have you researched into what has become of the companies that performed these conversions? Do any of them still exist? It would be a benefit to owners if you had any info to share, such as if any of the companies are still around, or if there are any companies that specialize in repairing or that stock replacement parts for these convertibles.

_________________
Michael - Collector of Toyotamobilia ~ www.toyotageek.com
Tomica Fan Club ~ www.tomicafanclub.com


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Celica Sunchaser
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 6:42 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:10 am
Posts: 122
Location: KC,KS
I will start with the most recognizable conversion. The Celica Sunchaser seemed to be THE most common of all the conversions. It was built by Griffith. The only other cars converted by them were the '82 Celica and the '81-82 AMC Eagle known as the Sundancer. They got plenty of press from the major magazines for the early Sunchaser and orders rang up quickly. Records are not available, but it is reported that several thousand Sunchasers may have been built for '80-81. There happens to be one on ebay right now. The Griffith built cars are the only ones using roll bars.

Image

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/1980-Toy ... dZViewItem

Also, here is a Celica on ebay right now built by American Custom Coach. This may be the second most common Celica conversion. This is a full convertible, without the rollbar. Several hundred of the ACC Celicas were built.

Image

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/JT2RA43C ... dZViewItem

More to come on the Celica conversions as I get time to load them to my Flickr account....


Last edited by slimwhitman on Mon Sep 17, 2007 10:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: 1982 Mazda 626 Convertible
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2007 6:57 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:10 am
Posts: 122
Location: KC,KS
This is a conversion I know little about. The owner knew very little about the car's history, too. (That is a common problem!) It is likely that well under 100 were built, but several dozen completed cars is probable. The "sunsetter" edition....whatever that means. The builder is listed as Sunset Coach by a sticker in the door jamb.

Image



http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/1982-Maz ... dZViewItem

In a 1982 article in Motor Trend, they listed a company called Convertible Specialists Inc building a 626 convertible, as well as many other convertibles. I have never seen any cars built by them, so it is possible that they designed the conversion but it was installed by other companies?

I bet you could make a decent offer on this rare car and own it yourself.

Image


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 3:51 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2007 1:12 am
Posts: 177
Location: Melbourne, Australia.
Image
Image

_________________
Image


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Z-Car
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 5:46 am 

Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:10 am
Posts: 122
Location: KC,KS
Alfadog - What is the story about the Z-Car convertibles? They look to be one-off custom cars, not series run conversions when the car was new. Do you know anything about the cars in the photos? What year are they and who converted them. Since I see no convertible top mechanism, they look to be one-off customs and not very practical when a thunderstorm pops up.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 6:00 am 
JNC Fanatic
User avatar

Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 7:58 am
Posts: 979
Location: Lake Worth, TX
I use to have a 82 Celica convertible built by Griffith conversions. I took pictures of it including the door ID plate. I will post them when I find them.

_________________
Jeff "Kingtoy" Brown
King of Toyotas
Sophisticated Toys - Toyota club

81 TE75 Corolla SR5 Sport Coupe modified
Custom 93 Toyota minitruck


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: '80-81 Celica Sunchaser
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 11:37 am 

Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:10 am
Posts: 122
Location: KC,KS
Since we are on the subject of the Celica convertibles.....let me finish up including photos of some '80-81 Griffith Sunchasers:

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Griffith Sunchasers
PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 8:08 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:10 am
Posts: 122
Location: KC,KS
Need to learn more about the Celica Sunchasers? Go here:

http://www.pitt.edu/AFShome/c/h/chirdon ... tory1.html


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Sep 06, 2007 7:39 am 
JNC Fanatic
User avatar

Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 7:58 am
Posts: 979
Location: Lake Worth, TX
The main difference between my old car and the Sunchaser was that it was a full convertable and only had 2 seats in it.

_________________
Jeff "Kingtoy" Brown
King of Toyotas
Sophisticated Toys - Toyota club

81 TE75 Corolla SR5 Sport Coupe modified
Custom 93 Toyota minitruck


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Z-Car
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 1:25 am 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2007 1:12 am
Posts: 177
Location: Melbourne, Australia.
slimwhitman wrote:
Alfadog - What is the story about the Z-Car convertibles? They look to be one-off custom cars, not series run conversions when the car was new. Do you know anything about the cars in the photos? What year are they and who converted them. Since I see no convertible top mechanism, they look to be one-off customs and not very practical when a thunderstorm pops up.

No I don't know about the cars I posted. There were actually a few different "kits" around - most using the existing tailgate for the "boot". I realise this doesn't fit to your specific thread topic but just that after seeing the cars already posted, I had to post these beauties to show convertible conversions CAN look good. There are actually a fair few convertible Z's around the world.

In other news, one of the original "option" designs for the 240Z was indeed a convertible version. Also a Targa and a 2+2 version. Only one made it to production.

_________________
Image


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 3:24 am 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Feb 08, 2007 8:04 am
Posts: 378
Location: Perth Western Australia
Bad Alfa. You shouldn't be diluting this thread with random after-market convertible pictures. :mrgreen:

_________________
...................www.nostalgictrio.com...................


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Sunchaser on ebay
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 7:26 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:10 am
Posts: 122
Location: KC,KS
I said they made a bunch of the Celica Sunchasers.....here are 2 more on ebay.....

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Toyota-C ... dZViewItem

Image

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Toyota-C ... enameZWDVW

Image


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: '82 Celica Conv by Griffith
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 7:47 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:10 am
Posts: 122
Location: KC,KS
I don't have too much information on the Celica convertibles built on the new '82 body style. Few were built because demand was way down now that the LeBaron/Dodge 400 and Mustang convertibles were now available by thier respective corporate parents. Here is info on the Griffith '82-'84 cars. A few were built, maybe up to 100.

Image

Image

Other companies converted these '82-'84 Celicas, check the top of the thread for the full list that I know about. If you know more, please let me know!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Other '80-'81 Celica convertibles
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 7:58 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:10 am
Posts: 122
Location: KC,KS
Other FULL Celica convertibles were built for '80-81. They were not as common as the Griffiths, but nice because they omit the targa bar. Here are some photos...

These are by American Custom Coach:
Image

Image

Image

Here is one built by Sparlingco:
Image

This one is by California Coach Company:
Image

Do you have photos of some more? I want to see them!!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Old Magazine article
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 8:35 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 02, 2007 5:10 am
Posts: 122
Location: KC,KS
Here is an article I pulled out of a magazine many years ago (and wasn't very careful). It is an interesting read...to understand the era.

Image

Image

Image

Sorry....I can't find the last page....but I will keep searching.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2007 7:43 am 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 8:15 pm
Posts: 321
Alfadog wrote:
Image


I'm bearish on a lot of convertible conversions because a) I generally prefer the original hardtop lines and b) the added weight and loss of structural rigidity seems too detrimental to me.

That said, this Z looks amazing. It gets the look of an early-70's Italian drop top. Very nice. :tu:

Awesome thread. Holy research materials!!! :shock:

_________________
PM me if you need your classic detailed in RI/Southern MA


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post a new topicPost a reply Page 1 of 8   [ 147 posts ]
Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... 8  Next


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  


Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group
610nm Style by Daniel St. Jules of Gamexe.net