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You don't have to wait until 2011 to go topless in a Camaro

Rafay Ansar

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Newport Convertible Engineering will open up a Camaro for you. Cost of the conversion starts at $16,000.

Spending $16,000 or more to make a Camaro into a Camaro convertible isn't a rational decision, but we can certainly understand people wanting one.

We drove the concept version of this car from Chevrolet two years ago ("Top This!" AW, July 2, 2007) and loved it. Back then, Chevrolet planned to release a convertible version of the new Camaro in November 2009, but an economic cliff intervened, pushing production to the second quarter of 2011. You could die of Camaro lust by then, or you could buy your Camaro convertible from Newport Convertible Engineering in Placentia, Calif.

Newport Convertible has always done a solid engineering job (fit and finish being another matter). They reinforce the windshield frame, the roof pillars, the rear seatback area and the undercarriage to compensate for the loss of the top structure. Newport claims that all of that reinforcement doesn't increase the curb weight of the car. We didn't have a scale when we drove one.

Regardless, we took this one over railroad tracks, parking-lot speed bumps and the worst asphalt Placentia had to offer. While there was a fair amount of higher-frequency movement through the windshield frame and the body at speed, the lower-frequency, bigger bumps did not translate into cowl shake. We found it to be a fundamentally solid car. The top stayed in place well, secured by two manual latches. Visibility was good, and wind intrusion was minimal inside the cabin.

Not everything about an aftermarket Newport Convertible will be quite as buttoned-up as the car coming from the manufacturer in 2011. But if you're willing to put up with such inconveniences, contact Newport at www.newportconvertible.com, and the company will happily accept your deposit.



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