QOTD: Put a Lid on It?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
qotd put a lid on it

A bout of insomnia last night left you author with plenty of free time to mull things over, staring at the blank ceiling above. For whatever reason, the unplanned sleeplessness saw this addled mind focus on the year 2011.

Did anything exciting occur that year? Nothing on this end, if memory serves, but it did seem to mark the end of a uniquely American tradition.

We’re talking aftermarket tops today. 2011 was the final model year for two holdouts in the non-factory vinyl top/carriage roof tradition: the Lincoln Town Car and Cadillac DTS.

The recollection that kicked this off was a stay at a dumpy Providence, Rhode Island motel back in the spring of 2002, where I noticed, while returning from the store with a fresh pack of Marlboros, a green Chevrolet Corsica sporting an aftermarket black vinyl top. It remains, to this day, the only time I’ve ever seen that model so equipped.

Coating a roof in canvas gave some owners of largely pedestrian autos a silent thrill, allowing them to express a refined air to passers-by. This is no ordinary Buick Century, they telegraphed to other drivers, and no ordinary driver, either. Yet as time marched on and rooflines became increasingly less formal, and as memories of luxed-up factory models with padded scalps receded, the roof treatment faded from the landscape. The last-generation Buick LeSabre seems to have been a particularly willing host for such roofs, thought the aforementioned Town Car and DTS seemed the most likely to wear such hats, for obvious reasons. Their demise brought the end of an interesting era.

Or did it?

What’s the most-recent model you’ve spotted bearing such a roof?

[Image: Murilee Martin/TTAC]

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5 of 44 comments
  • SqueakyVue SqueakyVue on Aug 05, 2020

    My DD was a 92 Cutlass Supreme with a vinyl "brougham" top complete with limo lights. Very tastefully done. The non landaus almost looked naked in comparison. I occasionally see a last gen Chrysler 300 with similar treatments t on my morning commute. Definitely not ugly but not something I'd spend money on.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Aug 06, 2020

    I had 4 cars with half vinyl roofs (landau) and 2 of them I had to remove the vinyl because they were rusting under the roof. Just as glad that that fad is gone along with thick side chrome molding, white wall tires, and wire wheel covers. All those things required more maintenance and didn't look that good if you didn't take care of them. Less can be better.

    • Arthur Dailey Arthur Dailey on Aug 06, 2020

      Personally I wish that manufacturers would bring back the chrome or vinyl strip along the side to protect against door 'dings'. They did in fact work. But then as posted before, I also wish that they would also bring back 'drip rails' along the roofline, 'vent' windows and 'hideaway/pop-up' headlights.

  • Mark Mark on Aug 06, 2020

    On the other side of the vinyl roof coin... I think when the tops are done right as part of the total design, such as my own '79 here where I actually prefer the factory top vs slick (unless an Elegante' package), and combined with OEM stainless trim, side moldings, correct whitewalls & wires... it presents a cohesive and solid era-correct look. Zoom in & have a look. maybe you'll agree ---->> https://imgur.com/a/zxdG9so

  • Jeff Semenak Jeff Semenak on Aug 10, 2020

    My Dads 1967 Oldsmobile Holiday Coupe, Pale Yellow with Black Vinyl. He said it was a 'Speed' Roof. Apparently Nascar racers found, the surface smoothed the airflow over the roof. Like a dimpled Golf Ball?