December 1998 by John Pearley Huffman
Volkswagen has already shown a prototype convertible version of its market-quaking New Beetle. So it’s not surprising to see aftermarket companies trumping the factory by decapitating Beetle before VW can get around to producing its own chop tops. The first one to reach MT’s attention comes from Special Vehicle Concepts.
Designed by Newport Convertible Engineering, the Beetle drop top is much more than a frivolous hacksaw attack. Beneath the floor pan, the structure is reinforced with a large X-frame, while steel beams are also added just behind rear seat, under the dash, and along the doorsills. The seatbelts get repositioned upper anchor points, and a manual canvas top is installed. The top itself stacks neatly when folded back, with its edge mimicking the curvature of the Beetle’s newly hinged trunk lid. The extensive reinforcement is substantial enough so that the doors slam with as much authority as any roofed Beetle’s.
Because the canvas top replaces not only the roof but the rear and side windows, and its rear window is a smaller plastic unit, outward visibility is compromised. But that’s what they make side view mirrors for, isn’t it? If you’ve got $11,995 lying about and a Beetle whose steel lid is wholly unsatisfactory, contact Newport Convertible Engineering.