While Chrysler ponders a mass production green light, convertible PT Cruisers have begun rolling out of Newport Convertible Engineering in Placentia, California, this week, reported the Orange County Register (OCR).
The newspaper said that the little company is already shipping the drop-top PTs to dealers from Arizona to New Jersey, according to its president and chief engineer Al Zadeh.
So far, the OCR said, the company which employs only about 10 people has produced 20 convertible Cruisers and hopes to do hundreds more by the end of the year.
Chrysler has so far only shown a ‘concept’ PT Cruiser convertible
It takes three weeks to turn a stock tin-top Cruiser into a convertible, a car Chrysler has shown as a ‘concept’ but (so far) doesn’t offer ex-factory.
The OCR said that U.S. dealers wanting to sell drop-top PT Cruisers send cars to Zadeh, retailing the finished convertibles for $6,900 to $9,900 more than standard tin-lid models.
The conversion process is complex, the OCR said. Zadeh’s staff reinforce the body by adding inch-square steel bars along each vehicle’s 14-foot underside and to the body between the front and back doors.
The front windscreen is also reinforced, and a roll bar is installed for greater safety and stability, the newspaper added.
The Orange County Register said that the conversion adds close to 100 pounds to the car, which weighs 3,123 pounds.
Zadeh has given the drop-top look to expensive vehicles for two decades, the newspaper added.
The company custom-converted about 65 cars last year for $20,000 to $40,000 each, the OCR said.
The newspaper said that, two years ago, Zadeh won praise and “a mountain of orders” for his convertible VW Beetle. He was about to open a second factory when Volkswagen North America began voiding warranties on his converted cars.
Zadeh and another local Beetle converter are suing Volkswagen North America for $150 million, the OCR said.
But this time, the newspaper added, he wants to work with the manufacturer.
However, so far, Chrysler has produced all its convertible models in-house, the Orange County Register said.