In the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, the automotive landscape was awash with Targa-top cars. Conventional convertibles required heavy mechanisms (or worse, motors or hydraulics) to work and got rid of a major structural component—ya know, the roof. That, in turn, sapped performance from sports cars by making them less rigid, heavier, and slower. There were also very real fears among automakers that the U.S. government would ban convertibles in the name of rollover safety in the late ’60s—even though that never happened, the automakers freaked. In fact, there were zero American convertibles built from 1976 to 1981.
A solution for all of these problems was to ditch the folding fabric roof of a convertible altogether and replace it with a removable panel mounted to a sturdy roll hoop behind the driver. It helped with rigidity, especially, but also provides a margin of safety if the things go sideways (or upside down). Hence, the Targa was born in the 1960s, soon after the related T-tops and sunroof/moonroof panels became common. All provided a way to get some fresh air to the passengers without sacrificing (much) weight, structural integrity, or rollover protection…. read more >