Frank A. writes:
It’s been a while since you advised me on Town Car engine cleaning. I’ve still got the TC, but I’ve got an itch to add something less practical to the fleet–a retractable hardtop. Probably anybody who is old enough to have been frightened by a Ford Skyliner as a child has had this impulse now and then.
I’m interested in the Pontiac G6. They were made ’06-’09 and are percolating down into a practical price range. I can’t spend the bucks on a high dollar retractable, so the VW Eos and Chrysler Sebring would be my only other choices.
Gee whiz: Pontiac quality, Volkswagen quality, or Chrysler quality: what are you gonna choose?
So, what do you think, of retractables in general and the G6 in particular? Are they reasonably reliable? What kind of maintenance does the top require as it ages? (Assuming Pontiac dealer support is going to recede into the past.) And how loopy an idea would buying one be?
Before you reply that this is too bizarre a kink for a Panther guy to take up, just remember–the Skyliner is a direct ancestor of the Big Cat. It must have left a few retractable genes in there somewhere.
Having recently spent time in a restored 1958 Skyliner, these systems aren’t exactly the stuff of rocket science. And my goodness, the Skyliners are one of the high points in Detroit’s history: when you consider the historical implications of Panther Love. It is a truly stunning machine.
I get it. You need a folding roof.
And a few unique hinge pieces, custom rubber bits and the appropriate electrics is all that’s in play. That said, retractable tops will be a nightmare if a greenhorn with a wrench and a shop manual gets their hands on it. As time goes by, the rubber bits are my biggest concern. Unlike most droptops, I suspect the G6’s folding hard top has a fair bit of unique molded rubber that will be tough to find. But this won’t be a problem if Steele Rubber Products stays in business for the next 30 years. If they go away, start crying: I know I will.
But go for it, life’s too short to drive nothing but a Lincoln Town Car. Compared the out-of-warranty repair costs of a VW and the stunning crappiness of Chrysler, the Pontiac G6 is a smart move. If any vehicle shall be blessed with an overabundance of replacement bits and service expertise, it will be a GM product. But that’s discounting the G6’s unique folding roof.
Whatever. Just do it, but much like your Town Cars dirty engine, be proactive about cleaning the hardtop’s moving parts. Get the dirt out of the rubber and finish them off with a touch of silicone spray lubricant. Clean and lubricate the hinges, conservatively. Overdoing it might let more dirt and grime build up. Buy the GM factory service manual, read the specifics about the folding top and learn how the experts tune and tweak these things as the ravages of time do their duty.
And if you get into a significant accident, don’t get too attached: I suspect any insurance company will total a depreciated G6 with a jammed roof. This ain’t a valuable Mercedes SL, as you well know.
Good luck, the Town Car and the G6 will be a fun Detroit pairing.
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