Custom Convertible

The Rolls-Royce Phantom 4-door convertible is an original design manufacturer(ODM) by NCE that debuted in 2011.

Newport Convertible engineering is currently the only US coach builder that designs, engineers and distributes the Rolls Royce Phantom 4-door Convertibles throughout the world.

Newport Convertible Engineering creates custom convertibles, and specializedconvertible 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.
Sometimes GM chose not to offer RPO convertibles. For example, in 1987, when the first RPO Camaro ragtops became available, Pontiac wanted to have Firebird ragtops too, but they were so heavy that they would have raised Pontiac’s CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) number too high. To get around this problem, they were sold as coachbuilt special editions, and as such, their increased fuel consumption would not be figured into Pontiac’s CAFE number. Everything was done the same as the RPO Camaros except the paperwork. Instead of ordering a convertible directly from GM, the dealer would order the car as a t-top. It would be drop shipped to the coachbuilder, and converted right along side the regular production Camaros, which had also been built as t-top cars originally. So it is a subtle distinction, the only real difference being who got billed for the work, (the dealer or the manufacturer) and whether or not it was included in the CAFE calculations. It was win-win. Customers got their convertibles and Pontiac got their low CAFE rating. Pontiac eventually redesigned the Firebird, reducing fuel consumption enough to offer their own RPO convertibles in 1991.[2]
A new-car dealership could contract with any aftermarket company to add any option they wanted to add to a car, as long as it did not compromise the structural integrity or cause warranty problems on that car. Options like roof-racks, sunroofs, leather interiors, spoilers, rustproofing and all sorts of things could be done to a new car, even if the car manufacturer had nothing to do with that product or conversion. The conversion van phenomenon is a very similar process. The convertible conversion was billed as a dealer option that was ordered by the new car dealership (or could be ordered privately if you already owned the car) just like rustproofing or custom pinstriping could be ordered for a car by the dealership. As far as a car manufacturer was concerned, as long as the car was converted in a way that did not negatively compromise the car to cause warranty problems, then the new car dealership could do, or have done, whatever they wanted to do. These conversions are not considered OEM or factory options. Conversions done before the final sale to the consumer, for/by the new car dealership are considered dealer options. All coach convertible conversions sold directly to the private car owner are considered
“aftermarket” conversions.
Return of the factory convertible
As the coachbuilt convertible cottage industry continued to grow, it became obvious to the car manufacturers that it was again time for them to produce new convertibles. For the 1982 model year, the Chrysler LeBaron, Dodge 400 and Buick Riviera convertibles were available to new car shoppers as a factory option. The Ford Mustang, Chevy Cavalier & Pontiac Sunbird followed for the 1983 model year, and the Cadillac Eldorado & Toyota Celica followed for 1984. Even though these new factory convertibles were offered by the manufacturer, they were still built as hardtops, then shipped to a coach company for modification into a convertible. The cars were then sent to dealerships by the original manufacturer. Even though the conversion process was the same, because these convertibles were provided to the dealership directly from the car manufacturer, they are considered factory original. In time, the car manufacturers were able to return the actual construction and engineering of some of its convertibles back to the factory. Companies like American Specialty Cars continue to build convertibles for manufacturers, both with soft tops and with retractable hard tops. They are responsible for the Toyota Camry Solara convertible and BMW Z3, as well as countless others.

Coach-built convertible lives on
Even though the car manufacturers have gotten back into the business of building convertibles, there will always be a market for specialty coach convertibles. Many convertibles have been built to fill a niche in the market. Coach convertibles like the ’84-’87 NCE Honda CRX Spyder and the ’83-’90 NCE Mercedes SEC convertible were successful, even while competing in a market full of factory convertibles. Even today, coach builders are able to sell limited numbers of coach convertibles to customers that want something a little different.

List of known coach convertibles
Below, is a complete listing of nearly all cars converted by the U.S. coach convertible industry from the mid-1970s into the 1990s. This list does not include kit car conversions or one-off conversions. All are believed to have been series runs and no ultra-extensive cars are included.

Conversions of Ford products
Lincoln Continental Coupe: AHA Manufacturing (1977–1979), Silcco (Ultima, 1977–1979), Hess & Eisenhardt (1977), California Coach (1978)
Lincoln Continental Sedan: 4-door (Silcco, 1977–1979)
Lincoln Mark V Coupe: Emess Coach Builders (1977–1978), Global Coach (Lucerne, 1978–1979), American Custom Coach (St Tropez, 1977–1979), Coach Builders Ltd (1977–1978), Hess & Eisenhardt (1978), L’Edition Limite’ (Cabriolet, 1977–1979), Bradford Motorcars (Cabriolet, 1978)
Lincoln Mark VI Coupe: Coach Builders Ltd (1981–1983), Carelli Autoworks (1983), American Custom Coach (St Tropez, 1980–1981)
Lincoln Mark VII Coupe: Coach Builders Ltd. (1984–1989)
1977 Mustang conv by Emess
Lincoln Mark VIII Coupe: Coach Builders Ltd. (1993–1995)
Lincoln Versailles: Global Coach (1979)
Ford Mustang II: Emess Coach Builders (1977–1978)
Ford Thunderbird: American Custom Coachworks (1977–1979)
Mercury Cougar: American Custom Coachworks (1978–1979), Coach Builders Ltd. (1982,1984–1986,1987–1988), Car Craft (1985–1986)
1980 Mustang conv by Milan
Mercury Capri: AHA Manufacturing Lmtd (1979–1983), ASC McLaren (1984–1986, 552 built), Bivouac Industries (1981–1982), Classic Marketing Group (1980)
Ford Mustang: Coach Builders Ltd. (1981–1982), Steas Industries (1981–1982), Bivouac Industries (1982), Convertible Specialists Inc. (1982), National Coach Engineering (1980–1982), Intermeccanica C’abrio (1980–1982), ASC McLaren (2-seat, 1987–1990, 1,806 built), Tomaso (Swift, 1979–1980), American Convertible Corp. (National Coach 1980), Milan Coachbuilders (1980), Elan Convertible Ltd. (1981), Silcco (1980–1981), Barrows Ent. (Compliment, 1981–1982), Grandeur Motor Co (1981), AHA Manufacturing (Pony, 1980–1983), Armbruster/Stageway (1981), Con-Tec (1981–1982), Capital Coachworks (1981), Munich Motor Works (1981), American Pullman (1981), Note: Factory convertibles built by Cars & Concepts started in 1983.
Ford Escort/Mercury Lynx: Steas Industries (1981–1982), National Coach Engineering (1981)
Ford EXP: unknown (1982)

Conversions of GM products
Cadillac Seville (1st Gen) Milan Coachbuilders (1976–1979), Coach Design Group (San Remo, 1978–1979), Carelli (Casino, 1979, 1983), Global Coach (Innsbrook, 1980–1983), American Custom Coachworks (Paris, 1980–1983), Grandeur Motor Co (1979), Auto Classic (in Mexico, 1978)
Cadillac Seville (2nd Gen) Carelli (Casino, 1983), Global Coach (Innsbrook, 1980–1983), American Custom Coachworks (Paris, 1980–1982), Bradford Motorcars (1981–1982), Grandeur Motor Co. (1982), Coach Builders Limited (1984)
Cadillac DeVille (1977–1984) Hess & Eisenhardt (LeCabriolet, 1978–1983), American Custom Coachworks (Paris 2dr, 1977–1979), American Custom Coachworks (Paris 4dr, 1978–1979), Car Craft (1978), Bradford Motorcars (1978)
Cadillac DeVille (1985–1993)/Cadillac Fleetwood (1989–1992) Car Craft (1986–1991), Coach Builders Limited (1989–1991)
Cadillac Eldorado (1977–1978) ASC (1978), Custom Coach Co. (1977–1978)
Cadillac Eldorado (1979–1985) Mark Doyne Coach (1981), Coach Builders Lmtd (1981–1983), Armbruster/Stageway (1980–1983), Hess & Eisenhardt (1980–1985), Coach Design Group (San Remo, 1979–1981), Global Coach (Alpine, 1979–1984), American Custom Coachworks (Paris, 1979–1983), National Coach Engineering (1982), Chicago Coachworks (Cabochon, 1983), Grandeur Motor Corp. (1981), Carriage Works (1981), Milan Convertible Co (1979–1985), Steas Industries (1982), American Sunroof Corp./ASC (1979–1983), Con-Tec (1981–1982), Bradford Motorcars 1980–1982. Note: Factory convertibles were built by ASC for the 1984–1985 model years.
Cadillac Eldorado (1986–1991) R. Straman Company (1987–1988), Coach Builders Ltd (1989), Car Craft (1986)
Cadillac Eldorado (1992–2002) Coach Builders Ltd (1992–2002), Don Massey Cadillac (1997–1998), Quality Craft Ind. (1996)
Buick Riviera Coach Builders Ltd (1981–1982, 1996–1997), National Coach Engineering (1982), Armbruster/Stageway (1981), Con-Tec (1981–1982), Steas (1982), Hess & Eisenhardt(1981), West Wind (Magnum, 1980) Note: Factory convertibles were built by ASC for the 1982–1985 model years.
Oldsmobile Toronado Coach Builders Ltd (1981–1982, 1988–1990), National Coach Engineering (1982), Hess & Eisenhardt (1982–1985), American Sunroof Corp./ASC (1985), R. Straman Company (1987), Armbruster/Stageway (1981), Con-Tec (1981–1982), Steas (1982)
Pontiac Firebird (2nd Gen) National Coach Engineering (1979–1981), Steas Industries (1980–1981), Custom Coachworks (1980), American Convertible Corp. (NCE, 1980–1981), Con-Tec (1981), Elan (1980–1981), Munich Motor Works (1981), American Clout (NCE, 1980–1981), A.H.A. Manufacturing (Pony, 1980–1981)
Chevrolet Camaro (2nd Gen) National Coach Engineering (1979–1981), Steas Industries (1980–1981), Elan (Carizma, 1980–1981), Munich Motor Works (1981), American Clout (NCE, 1980–1981), Con-Tec (1981), American Conv Corp (NCE, 1980–1981), A.H.A. Manufacturing (Pony, 1980–1981)
Pontiac Firebird (3rd Gen) National Coach Engineering (1982), Steas Industries (1982), R. Straman Company (1982–1990), Autodyne Corp (1982), Auto Form Corp. (2-seater, 1982–1986), Matrix3 (1984–1985), International Coach (1982–1984), Convertible Concepts Ltd. (by Straman on West Coast or Auto Sunroof Inc on East Coast 1982–1987), John Greenwood (by others,1983–1986), Choo Choo Customs (by others, 1985–1986), Hi-Line Customs (1983–1986), ASC Inc (1986–1989, approx.610 built), Coach Builders Ltd (1982–1983), A.H.A. Manufacturing (1983), California Convertible Co (1984–1989), Coach Conversions (1983–1985), Auto Sunroof Inc, (1983), Griffith (1982–1983), Note: Factory convertibles were built by ASC starting in the 1991 model year and no 1990 ASC convertibles are known to exist.
1989 Pontiac Firebird 20th Anniversary Turbo Trans Am Indianapolis 500 Pace Car Replica Convertible (TTA)
Chevrolet Camaro (3rd Gen) Autodyne Corp (1982), Coach Builders Ltd (1982–1983), American Custom Coachworks (1982–1984), John Greenwood (by others, 1982–1985), Auto Form Corp. (Stilleto, 2-seater, 1982–1987), ascMcLaren Inc. (1985–1986), ASC Inc.(1985-early-1987), ChooChoo (by ASC, 1986), Matrix3 (1984–1986), International Coach (1983–1984), Coach Conversions (1983–1985), Griffith (1984), Convertible Concepts Ltd. (by Straman on West Coast or Auto Sunroof Inc on East Coast 1982–1987), Hi-Line Kustoms (1985), R. Straman (1982–1990), AHA Manufacturing (1983), Buffalo Conversion Corp (1984), California Convertible Co (kit, 1984–1989), Custom Cars of Minnesota (1985), Auto Sunroof Inc. (1983), West Wind (1983) Note: Factory convertibles were built by ASC starting midway through the 1987 model year.
GM A-Body Special (1977 Pontiac Grand Prix/Chevrolet Monte Carlo/Buick Regal/Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme) Emess Coach (1977)
Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme/Calais Steas Industries (1981–1983), National Coach Engineering (1982), Classic Marketing Group (1980), Classic Group of Companies (1982), Coach Builders Ltd (1981–1982), Viking Coach (1983–1984), Coachman (1982–1983), Con-Tec (1981–1982), Auto Sunroof Inc. (1983), Texas Ragtops (1983)
Pontiac Grand Prix Steas Industries (1981–1982), National Coach Engineering (1982), Classic Group of Companies (1982) Coach Builders Ltd (1981–1982), Hess & Eisenhardt (1984), Con-Tec (1981–1982), American Custom Coachworks (1983), Auto Sunroof Inc. (1983)
Chevrolet Monte Carlo Steas Industries (1981–1982), National Coach Engineering (1981–1982), Hess & Eisenhardt (1983), Classic Group of Companies (1982), Coach Builders Ltd (1981–1982), Car Craft (1983), ASC (1983), Con-Tec (1981–1982), Matrix3 (1985–1986), Barrows (1981), Auto Sunroof Inc. (1983), West Wind (Magnum, 1983), Sun Valley Coach (1984), Many conversions were available with a choice of manual or electronically operated top.
Buick Regal Steas Industries (1981–1983), Convertible Specialists Inc. (1982), National Coach Engineering (1981–1982), Classic Group of Companies (Tiara, 1981–1982), Coach Builders Ltd (1981–1982), Coach Conversions Inc. (1981), Con-Tec (1981–1982), Auto Sunroof Inc. (1983)
Oldsmobile 98 Regency Hess & Eisenhardt (1980–1981), Car Craft (1986)
Buick Electra Park Avenue Hess & Eisenhardt (1980–1981), American Custom Coachworks (1980), Car Craft (1986)
Buick Skylark Coach Builders Ltd (1981–1982), American Custom Coachworks (1980–1982), Barrows (Compliment, 1981–1982)
Oldsmobile Omega Coach Builders Ltd (1981–1982), Curtis Campers & Coach (1981–1982), American Custom Coachworks (1980–1982), Barrows (Compliment, 1981–1982)
Pontiac Phoenix Coach Builders Ltd (1981–1982), American Custom Coachworks (1980–1982), Barrows (Compliment, 1981–1982)
Oldsmobile Ciera Hess & Eisenhardt/Car Craft (814 built, 1983–1986), Coach Builders Limited (1982–1983)
Buick Century Hess & Eisenhardt/Car Craft (124 built, 1984–1986), Coach Builders Limited (1982–1983)
Chevrolet Celebrity Hess & Eisenhardt/Car Craft (200 built, 1984–1986), Coach Builders Limited (1982–1983)
Pontiac 6000 Hess & Eisenhardt (13 built, 1984–1985), Coach Builders Limited (1982–1983)
Chevrolet Corvette Flint Corvettes (by Intermeccanica 1980–1982), American Custom Industries (1979–1981), Greenwood-Duntov (1980–1981), Perfection Auto (1981), California Custom Convertibles (1980), Sports Cars Unlimited (1981)
Chevrolet Cavalier/Sunbird/Firenza/Skyhawk Coach Builders Ltd (1982). Note: Factory convertibles for Cavalier/Sunbird: 1983 by ASC in limited numbers, full production for 1984.
Pontiac Fiero Conversion Concepts (Carrozza, sold by Holland Pontiac, 75 built, 1987), California Convertible Co (kit, 1984–1988), L.A. Machine (kit, 1984–1988), Automoda (kit, 1984), Brisa (kit, 1985)

Conversions of Chrysler and AMC products
Chrysler Cordoba Emess Coach Builders (1977), American Custom Coachworks (1977), Global Coach/Innsbrook Manufacturing (1980–1983)
Dodge Charger American Custom Coachworks (1977)
Dodge Mirada Global Coach/Innsbrook Manufacturing (1980–1983)
Chrysler Imperial Carelli Autoworks (1983), Global Coach (1981–1983)
Dodge Aries-K/Plymouth Reliant-K National Coach Engineering (1981–1982), Grandeur Motor Co(1981–1982), Con-Tec (1981–1982), Steas (1982). Note: Factory convertible for LeBaron & Dodge 400/600 for mid-1982 on, were built by Cars & Concepts.
Dodge Challenger/Plymouth Sapporo Sparlingco (1981–1982)
Dodge Omni 024/Plymouth Horizon TC3 Classic Group of Companies (1981–1982), AHA Manufacturing (Pony, 1980–1983), Coach Conversions (1983)
Dodge Daytona Auto Form Corp. (1985)
AMC Concord/AMC Eagle Griffith (Sundancer, 1981–1982)

Conversions of Japanese products (for the U.S. market)
Datsun 280Z/280ZX Steas Industries (1978, 1981–1982), Belvedere Enterprises Inc (1980), Steas Ind. (1981–1982), American Custom Coachworks (1981), Giuliano Motors Ltd (1982), Global Coach (1981), Griffith (1978), National Coach Engineering (1981), Silcco (1981), California Custom Convertibles (1983)
Nissan 300ZX Newport Convertible Engineering (1984–1988,1990–1991). Note: Factory convertible was built by ASC for the 1993 model year.
Datsun 200SX Sparlingco (1981–1983), Intermeccanica (1981–1982), American Custom Coachworks (1980–1983), Magic Marketing (Merlin, 1980), Silcco (1981), Steas (1981), Convertible Specialists, Inc (1983)
Toyota Celica Griffith (Sunchaser, 1980–1981,1982–1983), California Coach Co. (1981), Grandeur Motor Corp. (1980–1981), Sparlingco (1981,1982–1983), American Custom Coachworks (1980–1981), Matrix3 (1983–1984), American Sunroof Corp/ASC (1983), Convertible Specialists (1983), Sunset Coachbuilders (1983), Note: Factory convertibles were built by ASC starting in the 1984 model year.
Toyota Corolla Convertible Specialists Inc. (1982), Sparlingco (1982–1983), American Custom Coach (1982–1983), Matrix3 (1982–1983), Griffith (SunRunner, 1981–1983), Sunset Coachbuilders (1982)
Toyota MR2 Newport Convertible Engineering (1986–1987)
Honda Prelude National Coach (N.Vancouver, Can, 1981–1982), Solaire (1981–1982), Classic Touch (1981), Con-Tec (1981–1982), Silcco (1981), Steas (1982)
Honda CRX Newport Convertible Engineering (1984–1987)
Acura Legend Newport Convertible Engineering (1988–1989)
Acura NSX Newport Convertible Engineering (1991)
Mazda RX-7 Newport Convertible Engineering(1984-1985), Pacific Avatar (Ultima, 1979–1985), Global Coach (1981–1983)
Mazda 626 Coupe Convertible Specialists Inc. (1982), Sunset Coach (1982)
Mitsubishi 3000GT/Dodge Stealth Newport Convertible Engineering (1991-1992), R. Straman Company (1991–1992). Note: Factory hardtop convertible for 3000GT built in 1995 & 1996 by ASC.
Subaru GL Coupe Steas Industries (1981–1983), Matrix3 (1983–1984), Silcco (1981)

Conversions of European products (for the U.S. market)
Mercedes 280CE/300CE Coupe Newport Convertible Engineering(1984-1991), R. Straman Company (1984–1988, 35 built), Carelli Autoworks (1983), Auto Graphic Design (1981–1982), Automobile Exchange International (1981), American Custom Coachworks (1981), Niko-Michael Coachworks (1979), Note: E320 Cabrio was built by M-B during 1993–1995 for U.S.
Mercedes 380SEC/500SEC/560SEC Coupe Newport Engineering (1984–1991), R. Straman Company (1983–1990)
Mercedes 380 SEL 4door Carelli Autoworks (1983)
Porsche 924 Newport Convertible Engineering (1984-1987), Carelli Autoworks (1983)
Porsche 928 Newport Convertible Engineering (1984-1987), Carelli Autoworks (1980)
Volvo Bertone Coupe Silcco (1981), SolAire (1981)
BMW 3-Series Bradford Coachworks (Coach Builders Ltd., 1982–1983)
BMW 8-Series Newport Convertible Engineering (1992)
Volkswagen New Beetle Newport Convertible Engineering (1998-1999).
Rolls Royce Silver Spirit/Silver Spur Convertible Newport Convertible Engineering (1984–1989).

Conversions for the Australian market
Chevrolet Camaro Newport Convertible Engineering (1983-1988)
Toyota Celica Griffith (Sunchaser, 1980–1981,1982)

Conversions for the European market
Mercedes 380SEC/500SEC/560SEC Coupe Newport Convertible Engineering (1982–1991)
Toyota Celica Griffith (Sunchaser, 1980–1981,1982)
Honda Prelude Tropic (Germany, 1981–1982)

Current conversions
Cadillac DTS Newport Convertible Engineering (2001–2009)
Cadillac CTS Newport Convertible Engineering (2008–2009), Newport Eng. (2003)
Chevrolet Camaro Newport Convertible Engineering (2010)
Chrysler 300 Newport Convertible Engineering (2005–2009)
Dodge Charger Newport Convertible Engineering (2007–2009)
Dodge Challenger Newport Convertible Engineering (2008–2011)
Toyota Prius Newport Convertible Engineering (2008–2009)
Toyota FJ Cruiser Newport Convertible Engineering (2007–2009)
Mini Cooper S Newport Convertible Engineering (2002)
Chrysler PT Cruiser Newport Convertible Engineering (2002)
Subaru Impreza WRX STi Newport Convertible Engineering (2011)

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