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TopsandSeats.com :: Automotive News

Automotive News

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Karmann receives Ford award

The award recognizes outstanding performance in product quality and service. Since May 2007, Karmann USA has produced convertible tops for the Ford Mustang at its Keel Street manufacturing facility in Plymouth Township, Michigan.

"Our employees take a tremendous amount of pride in their work and this award from Ford confirms our dedication to the manufacture of quality products," says Erik Roeren, president & CEO of Karmann USA. "With more than 100 years of experience working with convertible top systems, Karmann has a deep and long-lasting commitment to quality in all facets of its business."

Karmann USA's Plymouth Township facilities also have earned ISO/TS 16949 certification - the industry's highest international quality standard.

Founded in 1996, Karmann USA is based in Plymouth Township, Mich., and is a subsidiary of the Karmann Group. As the world's leading Tier-1 supplier of convertible tops, the Karmann Group also has been the contract manufacturer of several complete vehicles, including the VW Karmann Ghia, the VW Beetle convertible and most recently the Mercedes-Benz CLK convertible. Karmann USA supplies many of the world's major automakers, including Chrysler, Ford, General Motors and VW. With a 2008 sales volume of $1.8 billion (€1.3 billion), the Karmann Group also operates facilities in Germany, Poland, Portugal, the U.K., Mexico and Japan.

At its Plymouth Township campus, Karmann USA employs more than 300 people. In addition to the manufacture of convertible roof-top systems, Karmann USA provides OEMs with world class engineering solutions and recently launched a new aftermarket unit - Karmann Classics.

SOURCE : http://aftermarketbusiness.search-autoparts.com/aftermarketbusiness/Distribution/Karmann-receives-Ford-award/ArticleStandard/Article/detail/597965?contextCategoryId=41884

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lotus Evora Convertible Planned for 2011

Lotus is currently preparing for the launch of the 2010 Evora, and it's already planning to expand the model range with a convertible version.

Given the Evora's price point, one might expect an electric top for the convertible, but that's not likely to see production. Lotus has been working hard to develop an electric unit that does not compromise on the company's values of lightness and chassis rigidity.

"The open-top will need to have a light roof. It's most likely going to be a soft-top as a hard-top system is very heavy and complicated; that really doesn't belong in a sports car, and is not a Lotus way of working," Evora designer Steve Crijns told Autocar.

"It's not going to be easy to fit the roof in. It will have to go in front of the engine, where the rear seats are now," added Crijns. "The rest of the car has been designed with the cabrio in mind; the doors, for instance, are styled so that they can accommodate the system without any changes."

Expect to see variations on the Evora to start appearing within two years. The supercharged models are planned to launch in around two years and the convertible is planned for a 2012 launch at the latest.


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Friday, May 22, 2009

Review: 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible

Chopping the top off a car isn't as easy as it sounds, especially when the fixed roof is replaced with a folding one of the steel variety - the panels and system of motors and hinges add significant weight. Worse, in order to get the whole mess to fit in the trunk, a folding hard top often requires a bubbly, arching roofline and an ungainly, long rear deck. If you've had the displeasure of studying a Volkswagen Eos, you know what we're talking about.

Now, Infiniti - which hasn't produced a droptop in ages - has created a hardtop convertible G37 that has lost almost none of its elegant coupe sibling's visual appeal. And although the retractable roof and robust structural bracing add some 450 pounds to the car's mass, the G37's driving experience also has been largely preserved. That means blistering acceleration, brilliant ride and handling, and a cockpit that's among the prettiest in the business.

Even though the G37's chassis is new from the A-pillar rearward, the experience from behind the wheel is identical to that of the coupe. The familiar VVEL 3.7-liter V-6 carries over, but it produces five fewer horses due to a slightly more restrictive exhaust. Transmissions migrate over as well - buyers can choose a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic. We prefer the automatic, which dampens much of the V-6's roughness and provides better off-the-line acceleration, thanks to delightfully short gear ratios. A sport package that mirrors the coupe's - although without the limited-slip differential - is available with the automatic (and standard with the stick), but all-wheel drive is not offered.

Lowering the roof requires nothing more than the press of a button and a somewhat lengthy thirty seconds. Air movement is very well controlled inside the cabin, especially with the optional wind blocker. To ensure year-round comfort, you can order heated and cooled seats, and headrest-mounted Bose speakers are available, too.

What's so difficult about making a convertible, you say? Deciding what compromises to make for the sake of beauty, that's what. In order to keep the G37's sexy silhouette, Infiniti had to relocate the rear suspension's upper mounting points so the top would fit in the trunk. It does - but it leaves almost no room for cargo. With the top down, you'd be hard-pressed to fit two Ziploc freezer baggies back there. That is, if you can get the trunk open in the first place - the heavy lid lacks any kind of handle and is difficult to open.

Asking rear-seat passengers to hold your luggage will be an exercise in the art of persuasion. They have almost five inches less legroom than they would in the back of a BMW 3-series droptop, so they won't be happy. Just reassure them that they look fabulous in the G37, and drown out their complaints with that trademark Infiniti exhaust song.

SOURCE : http://www.automobilemag.com/reviews/driven/0906_2009_infiniti_g37_convertible/index.html

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Miata Convertible Tops

Did you know the Mazda Miata is celebrating it's 20th birthday this year? That's right... this car first made its debut in 1989. Although it has came a long way, the car still holds true to many of the fundamental Miata features is was built upon - delivering a great roadster convertible for an affordable price.

However with so many older ones on the road, the need for Miata convertible tops has been on the rise. This is especially true in many areas with extreme weather; snow, sun, and everything in between. But how does one go about replacing their soft top and how much should the expect to pay?

Fortunately, this can be done for a very affordable price. It is possible to buy a high quality Miata replacement top for under a $1,000. Considering that this investment makes your car instantly look newer and increases its resale value, it's a wise decision for many people.

However, count on paying up to $100 to $150 or so more for professional installation. Don't do this through the dealership unless you want to pay an arm and a leg! You should be able to find a local mom and pop body shop that will install it for next to nothing.

The other easy fix you can do on your Miata is a good application of premium wax. There are some waxes which can rejuvenate the shine of your paint. Spend $25 on a bottle of wax, some terry cloths, and a couple hours of your time, and you can instantly shave a few years off your car's age.

SOURCE : http://www.autoscraze.com/miata-convertible-tops.html

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Friday, May 15, 2009

2011 Nissan Murano Convertible Will Reportedly Hit Dealers by Summer 2010

A Nissan Murano convertible made news tickers nearly 9 months ago, but little has been heard about it since that last summer. Reportedly, it is still in the works and is slated for a release by the summer of 2010 as a 2011 model. It will be released in limited numbers and is targeted at empty-nesters who want a fun ride for the grandkids with all the amenities. Similar to the current 370Z, the Murano convertible will use a soft top to keep the weight and cost down.

2009 Nissan Murano Front Driver Side Rolling View

In addition to the soft top, the 2011 Nissan Murano convertible will use a two-door configuration, and be powered by the current 3.5L V-6 with 265 hp and 248 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is expected to be Nissan's CVT, which will be linked to either front or all-wheel drive.

SOURCE : http://www.trucktrend.com/features/news/2009/163_news090514_2011_nissan_murano_convertible/index.html

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How to Restore an Old Car: Interior And Convertible Top on our 1967 Chevy Camaro

The smartest--or luckiest--part of this entire Camaro restoration project was choosing a Camaro in the first place. If we had been working on some ancient Bugatti, for example, at this point we'd have been sitting with a $10,000 stack of cowhides, trying to figure out how to turn them into an interior. Naturally, there would have been no patterns to follow.

By comparison, restoring a Camaro is a snap. We ordered an interior and received a box via UPS containing: One Interior, Deluxe, Camaro, 1967, Parchment. All we had to do was install it.

Well, there's a little more to it than that. We started with the dashboard-which had already been sprayed the proper semigloss black. We cleaned up the stock gauges, reset the odometer to zero and reinstalled the instrument panel.

While we were in that corner, we put new pads on the brake and throttle pedals, new knobs on the dash controls and a reproduction urethane dash pad across the top edge of the dash. We also installed reproduction sun visors, a reproduction interior rearview mirror and the chrome trim that covers the inside of the windshield pillars.

We also got a modern radio with a faceplate and controls that replicate the original, a model USA-04 with AM/FM/cassette stereo and built-in 40-watt amplifier. We fit a pair of small stereo speakers beneath the stock dashtop 6 x 9-in. cutout, and a pair of Pioneer TS/TRX40 3-way speakers in the trunk beneath the well for the convertible top. The result? A completely hidden stereo system that provided 1993 sound quality in our classic 1967 car.

We progressed to the power top. These Camaros used a standard General Motors top mechanism with a hydraulic cylinder at each side, a pump/reservoir in the center behind the rear seat and clear plastic lines filled with ATF connecting the pump and cylinders. It's a simple and relatively foolproof design.

The convertible top frame needed to be bolted in before the interior trim panels were installed in order to hide the top frame pivots. We cleaned and repainted the top frame gloss black before installation. The surprisingly heavy top frame bolts to the car in three spots on each side-it's easier to install if two people put it in position.

You start by bolting the fixed pivot on each side to its mount. Then you swing the frame forward until you can bolt the front pivot to the extended hydraulic piston on each side. Finally, unfold the top frame and bolt the adjustable pivot to its mount on each side. Adjust the top frame fit by moving this pivot point up or down as needed.

Wise restorers stay away from convertible top work on these old General Motors cars. Fools rush in. After we'd tested the hydraulic mechanism, we put the top frame up. Then we ran new padding pockets from the front bow to the rear, stapled them in place and added two layers of padding.

SOURCE : http://www.popularmechanics.com/automotive/reader_rides/1271241.html

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

'Four-season' G37 extends top-down cruising
Feel the breeze in Infiniti's 2009 G37 Convertible

Arriving in showrooms this June, the 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible is derived from the G37 Coupe, sharing the same basic platform, drivetrain and interior. You can definitely see the family resemblance, though since a car's roof is a major structural component, the body was engineered from the beginning with extensive reinforcements to fight flexing.

John Weiner, director of product planning, says the hard-top G37 Convertible was designed as a "four-season car" with features that "extend the convertible driving season." Available adaptive climate control works when the top is down, increasing fan speed at low vehicle speeds when it's hot and at high speeds when it's cold. Seats can be heated and cooled, and a new Bose stereo system compensates for noise and has speakers in the headrests.

The retractable hard top completes up or down operation in less than 30 seconds. Infiniti uses a "clamshell" configuration to fold it up rather than stacking the sections similar to other hard-top convertibles. This is more compact and allowed Infiniti to retain the coupe's proportions.

The rear suspension is reconfigured to allow room for the folded top. Ironically, the flat, usable trunk is actually larger than the G37 Coupe's with the top up, though you're left with pretty much a mail slot with the top down. Weiner admits this was a "compromise to keep the short overhang and low deck." We'll give Infiniti that one.

The semifunctional back seat has plenty of room for some bags if you feel the need for a longer trip with the top down. And really, while the back does have more room than the rear seats of some convertibles out there, if you're taking a trip long enough to need luggage, it's too long for a grown human to survive back there anyway. Weiner says the rear seat was intended to accommodate "a full-size adult for a short drive."

Two models are available, but several option packages offer some variety. The base car has a seven-speed automatic that's new for 2009 and 18-inch wheels. Step up to the sport model and you get 19-inch wheels, a sharper steering gear ratio, six-speed manual transmission, as well as appearance items like unique front fascia and aluminum-trimmed pedals. If you want a sport with the automatic, you can have it as a base model with a sport package, which basically gives you everything on the sport plus paddle shifters for the transmission.

Recent Infiniti vehicles I've driven continue to impress me. The G37 Coupe was a surprise addition to my on-track favorites list at last year's Midwest Automotive Media Association Spring Rally at Road America. What I like about Infiniti is that while it builds luxury vehicles, it tends toward the sporty handling and driving dynamics side of the spectrum rather than the purely cushy ride. I wasn't expecting the comfy G37 Coupe to be such a hoot to toss around the track.

The G37 Convertible Sport has even more of a split personality. It'll happily burble down the boulevard all day long while you work on your tan, but mash the go pedal at the first twisty road sign and you'll be rewarded with a nice throaty exhaust note and the well-balanced handling for which Infiniti's rear-wheel drive front-midship platform is becoming known. It coddles you too much to be considered a sports car, but the cornering agility is there.

I came in a little hot on a couple downhill curves in the hills outside Los Angeles fully expecting the stability control to intervene, but the Bridgestone Potenza RE050A's never squeaked, and I realized I was still well within the limits. Humongous brakes (largest rotors in its class) on the sport give a rock hard and high pedal with lots of feel.

A lower rear axle ratio accompanies the six-speed manual to help keep things interesting in the acceleration department, and perhaps to make up for the convertible's 453-pound weight penalty over the coupe. It's at the expense of fuel mileage versus the automatic. I didn't get as much time in the seven-speed auto, but I liked it its DS mode, which held shifts longer for more spirited driving, and gives a little blip of the throttle on downshifts to make you sound like a pro. Manual shifting is available via the stick or aforementioned paddles.

Wind buffeting up front is minimal with the top down, allowing conversations at interstate speeds. The extra wind deflector you prop up behind the headrests helps even more. Top up, it's very quiet and there's a nicely finished headliner making you forget you're in a convertible.

Pricing for the Infiniti G37 Convertible will be announced this month. Expect it to run in the mid-$40,000s.

SOURCE : http://searchchicago.suntimes.com/autos/news/1535463,AM042209_infiniti-g37-convertible.article

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Audi R8 Convertible Confirmed for 2011

Audi insiders have confirmed that a convertible version of its stunning R8 supercar is on the way.

Details are sketchy, but our sources tell us that the new model should reach showrooms during 2011.

We understand that it will have a full-length convertible roof. This is likely to be made of fabric, in sympathy with the R8's mid-engined layout - which restricts the use of hard-tops - and Audi's preference for soft tops.

Audi hasn't confirmed whether the R8 Cabriolet will use the V8 or V10 engine from the car's current line-up.

SOURCE : http://www.autospies.com/news/Audi-R8-Convertible-Confirmed-for-2011-43582/

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Copyright © 2007-2008 TopsandSeats.com
r car's replacement soft tops, auto interior seat covers, and other related car accessories. With nearly 30 years of experience we have become the premier online source when searching for automotive tops and interior products. Our success and longevity is directly the result of satisfying the needs of our customers through a wide range of products with unbeatable quality, attentive service and highly competitive prices.

Copyright © 2007-2008 TopsandSeats.com Copyright © 2007-2008 TopsandSeats.com