Newport Convertible Engineering was the first US coach builder that designed, engineered and distributed limited Mercedes Benz CL Convertibles throughout the world!
Newport Convertible engineering is currently the only US coach builder that designs, engineers and distributes the Mercedes Benz CL Convertibles throughout the world.
Newport Convertible Engineering is an original design manufacturer(ODM) that designs and engineers authentic convertible tops on all brands of automobiles. NCE has recieved world wide recognition for their original convertible designs, especially on Mercedes Benz convertibles.
Newport Convertible Engineering creates custom convertibles, and specialized convertible tops for Hummer, Chrysler, Dodge, Limousines, Coupes, Sedans, …
American car manufacturers stopped making convertibles in-house in 1976. As fewer and fewer convertibles remained available to U.S. buyers (mid-1970s to mid-1980s), an aftermarket cottage industry grew for new cars to be converted into convertibles because there were still buyers who wanted them. The few European convertibles that were available was not enough to placate demand. Everything from Firebirds to Celicas, Continentals to Cutlass Cieras were modified into convertibles. Tens of thousands of cars were converted by several dozen coachbuilders across the country.
Why were they called coachbuilders? Because it was a big job, and these modern cars did not have enough structural integrity to withstand the loss of the roof structure. The coachbuilder would have to re-engineer the structure of the car, often adding hundreds of pounds of steel, prior to removing the roof and fitting the convertible mechanism. They would then have to make new interior and exterior trim for all the places that they had to cut, and make it look, feel, and drive like it was meant to be a convertible. It would also have to be safe. It was no small task. Coachbuilding was a trade that had been around for centuries. Before there were cars, there were horse drawn coaches, and they were all made by hand. With the advent of the automobile, the coachbuilders adapted to the changing times, and made bodies for cars. These car bodies were made by hand, out of wood and later steel, and mounted on to the automobile frame. The coachbuilder would be responsible for the interior as well. Eventually car companies started making their own pressed steel bodies. The only remaining market for coachbuilders was the very expensive cars like Duesenburgs, Rolls Royces, and the biggest Packards. This work eventually died down too, but there would always be coachbuilders around. The firm of Mulliner Park Ward, for example, would build Corniche bodies for Rolls Royce and Bentley until 1995. Most modern day coachbuilders are in the business of modifying car bodies. They modify cars into hearses, ambulances, flower cars, stretch limousines, and of course convertibles.
These coachbuilding companies often marketed to new car dealerships, but they usually did not work for, or in conjunction with the car manufacturer. There were exceptions, however. Newport Convertible Engineering (NCE), a company which has converted over 10,000 cars, has had official relationships with many car companies. NCE’s products are of such high quality that many manufacturers retain them to create convertibles. The volume of convertible sales is low enough that these manufacturers can’t justify the cost of tooling up their own factories to make convertibles in-house like they used to. For example, General Motors sold Camaro and Firebird Convertibles from 1987 to 1992, which were sold in Chevrolet and Pontiac dealerships. In this case, it was handled in two different ways. Some of them were sold as regular production “factory convertibles.” GM handled the logistics of these “factory” conversions and sold the cars to dealers under the RPO system (regular production option). Even though the car was bought from Chevrolet directly as a convertible, it was in fact a converted car, and had a placard from the coachbuilder in the door jamb.