They’re all I live for. I’m not sure I know why. If I do it’s surely not reasonable.
Apology: in my last post I accidentally used the word “targa” to refer to “t-tops”. I do know the difference, I’m just dumb. I love both.
Exhibit A: Smart Roadster
There’s been a lot of posts about that wacky little guy on here lately. Someone is looking to buy one I think. I’m aware of these and we had some in Australia, but I could be more aware so I had a good read about them last night.
And I see them for what they are. They’re radical and rear engined and small, which are all things I love. But they’re also terrible. Smart was a stupid brand with a stupid name that never achieved any of its goals. The roadster is:
- Ugly - just look at it from the front...
- Overpriced - apparently almost as much as a bigger/faster/more practical/better built/more reliable MX-5
- Poorly built - production was actually halted due to warranty costs per-vehicle being incredibly high
- Impractical - the rear engine placement means shockingly small storage in both front and rear of the car
It also massively missed its projected sales. The thing sucks.
But. But look at it. Look at the rooflessness. Look at how it’s accentuated by the two-tone rollover bars. Who cares that the plastic top turns to shit within a couple of years? If I buy a new top, hang it in my garage and never let it see sun maybe it’ll be fine. Maybe I can throw on some shades and go toss the thing through some roundabouts, see what that rear engine is all about.
Dammit what am I
Exhibit B: Nissan EXA
I always liked these. I wanted one when I was younger. I never found a good one, I ended up with enough money for something better. Maybe there’s nostalgia in this one.
But it’s still a shitty 80s-Pulsar-based FWD economy car. They were never fast, they never got the turbos. And they’ve aged accordingly - they’re all used and abused and broken by now. I don’t even like FWD and I don’t know what I’d do with one of these if I owned it.
But own it I would. It’s on the list. The short list. The cars I actually plan on owning if I ever get the flexibility. I can’t explain it, I just think it’s cool, and it isn’t.
Exhibit C: Lancia Beta Monte-Carlo
I don’t even know what these are. I don’t know what kind of engine or drive type. I’m assuming it’s a RR? Who cares. It’s a Lancia. That ain’t me. We don’t have many in Aus, so I’ve none of the affinity for them I see on Top Gear. It just seems like an especially poorly built European car - the sort of thing I use as an excuse for owning Japanese cars.
But. But that roof! It’s not even quite a targa. It’s a glorified soft sunroof thing and I bet it leaks like a sieve. It’s like one of those Esprits, which I like. But I don’t like this. Except I’d totally own it. Every time that one guy posts his one I get weak. I don’t understand.
This is where I try to explain myself and disgust you all. I suspect I know what’s causing all this behavior. It’s this man’s fault:
I don’t want to be him, it’s not like that. And the show was cancelled shortly before I was born, it’s not a nostalgia thing.
Magnum PI showed a targa top in the right light. The ideal situation. It was a convertible in an ideal world.
It wasn’t about fumbling with an awkward roof panel and clasps. The roof is almost always off, indeed he takes it off in the pilot episode (and the intro sequence for every episode after season 1) and just throws it on the ground. It wasn’t about worrying about leaks in the rain. It wasn’t about rain at all. And it certainly wasn’t about a bulky folding roof and brittle mechanisms resulting in a car that’s desperately trying to hide its hideousness and weight and hoping you won’t notice.
In Magnum, the fiddly stuff happened off-screen. And the car was beautiful, completely uncompromised for being a convertible.
The show sold us the idea that a convertible could have no down-sides. And I lapped it up. And I’ll never be the same.
Next week I move to a house with no garage and we’re coming into Winter. My MR2 is sitting right now in my garage with the roof off, that will no longer be an option, I’ll have to put the roof on whenever I park it. I’m going to be doing a lot less top-down driving, pray for me.