It is no secret that I like convertibles a lot. It is also no secret that convertibles (like their sedan counterparts) are rapidly disappearing from the automotive landscape (at least affordable ones) as automakers pivot towards pickups, SUVs, and EVs.
Some manufacturers have just recently stopped making convertibles (like Buick, who stopped making the Cascada after the 2019 model year). Others have gone decades since last producing their last open car, and a few have never sold one in the US. Which brands have gone the longest without making a convertible? Let’s dig in.
First some ground rules: I’m only going by models for sale in the US since that is what I am the most familiar with. I’m also only counting brands that are still presently for sale in the US as an active drought (sorry, Studebaker). I’m also only counting factory offerings, not aftermarket conversions. Lastly, I’m going to ignore brands that have made convertibles within the past few years (like Buick) to focus on brands with convertible droughts of a decade or longer.
Mitsubishi – 10 Years
Mitsubishi’s last convertible was the Spyder version of the Eclipse, last sold in the 2012 model year. With a lineup currently consisting of SUVs and the econobox Mirage, Mitsubishi appears unlikely to offer another soft-top model any time soon.
This is too bad because Mitsubishi has a brief, but interesting history with convertibles. Think the 1996 Mercedes-Benz SLK was the first modern retractable hardtop convertible since the 1950s Ford Skyliner? Nope, that honor actually belongs to the 1995 Mitsubishi 3000GT Spyder.
Cadillac – 13 years
Cadillac’s last open-top car was the C6-based XLR roadster, sold between 2003 and 2009. I always felt like the XLR deserved better, but it was handicapped by the need to keep the price well above the already expensive C6 Corvette to avoid cannibalization. This pushed the price of the full-zoot XLR-V to over $100K, which was a lot of hay back in 2009. Unless you were a diehard Cadillac aficionado, it would have been difficult not to consider some of the other alternatives at that price point, like the SL and 911.
Honda – 13 years
While Honda has sold many convertibles in Japan over the years (the Beat and S600 Kei cars, among others), Honda’s first, last, and only convertible model offered in the US was the S2000 (although the targa-roofed 1990’s del Sol comes very close with its roll down rear window). The S2000 was last sold in the US in 2009, starting Honda’s 13-year convertible-free streak.
Toyota – 14 years
Toyota’s last convertible model, the Camry Solara, rode off into the sunset (presumably with the top down) after the 2008 model year.
Kia – 30 Years
OK, now we are getting into serious losing streak territory here. Kia first started selling cars in the US through a network of four dealers in 1992 and has never offered a convertible for sale here.
Kia did offer a rather interesting convertible in its native South Korea – the Kia Elan. When Lotus ended production of the Elan in 1995, Kia bought the tooling and continued to produce and sell the car in South Korea as the Kia Elan until 1999. However, it was never sold in the US, where we have been waiting 3+ decades for an open-top Kia.
Acura – 36 Years
Acura first started selling cars in 1986 and has never sold a convertible model. Acura has teased a convertible second-generation NSX for nearly a decade now, with one appearing as a prop in 2012 in The Avengers. 2022 is set to be the final year of the second-generation NSX, and alas there appears to be no convertible model in sight.
Hyundai – 36 Years
Acura and Hyundai have at least two things in common (and probably little else): They both started selling cars in the US in 1986, and neither has ever offered a convertible model. On April 1, 2019, Hyundai dropped fake pictures of a Hyundai N Roadster as an April Fool’s joke on the automotive press. However, the joke is on Hyundai, as the N Roadster looks fantastic, and could be a viable Miata competitor if it were actually real.
Subaru – 54 Years
Subaru first started selling cars in the US in 1968, and joins Hyundai, Kia, and Acura among the ranks of brands never to have offered a factory convertible. It does seem odd that a brand synonomous with outdoor lifestyles has never offered a vehicle to let you truly experience it while driving. Still, that hasn’t stopped some enterprising individuals from trying.
American Sunroof Corporation did convertible conversions of various Subaru coupes over the years, from the humble GL to the wedgy XT, some of which have been posted here in the past.
Subaru did tease at least one convertible concept over the years, the 2003 B9 Scrambler, a roadster with a surprisingly Fisker-like front end and a yellow(!) windshield.
Lincoln – 55 years
OK, I tipped my hand with the lede photo. Still, I did a spit take when I figured out that the last convertible produced by Lincoln was the 1967 Continental. At least they went out on a high note.
How exactly did Lincoln manage to snooze through every convertible fad of the past half-century, from the convertible renaissance of the ’80s, to the roadster revivals of the ’90s (Miata, Boxter, Z3, SLK, and TT), and the retractable hardtop craze of the 2000s (Volvo C70, Chrysler 200, BMW 4-series, Lexus IS250)? Were the product planners too focused on the task of moving Town Cars to an increasingly geriatric audience?
That is not to say there haven’t been glimmers of hope over the decades. Ford did contract with Custom Coachbuilders Unlimited to chop a handful of Mark VII convertibles in the 1980s.
Lincoln has teased a factory convertible model over the years, most recently the 2004 retractable roofed Mark X concept, based on the 11th generation two-seater Thunderbird.
For decades now it seems that rumors of a Mustang-based Lincoln Mark coupe would circulate every so often, with the even more remote possibility of an open variant. A quick Google image search will reveal dozens of renderings of what such a car could or should look like. Still, I wouldn’t hold my breath for this one – like all legacy brands with EV aspirations, Lincoln seems to be focusing on semi-autonomous rolling living rooms and utility vehicles, and not vehicles for driving enjoyment.