Unique Option: 1998 Corvette Retractable Hardtop

You can count on one thing when you purchase a Corvette: options.  New Corvettes have traditionally offered a laundry list of factory options to make your car anything from a beautiful pussycat to a fire breathing monster on the road.  The long list of options doesn’t stop at the dealer either.  Aftermarket modifications range from cupholders to complete transformations of every variety.  Take for example this 1998 Corvette for sale on craigslist out of Minneapolis, Minnesota.  This Fairway Green Corvette is unlike any other drop top you have seen.  Have you ever come across a Corvette with a retractable hardtop?  Does this conversion make this twenty one year old emerald beauty worth the $26,000 asking price?  Thanks to Patrick S. for the tip!

Retractable hardtops are pretty rare.  The most famous of all retractable hardtops was the 1957-1958 Ford Fairlane Skyliner.  Ford built around 35,000 of the cars during that two year period, despite the fact that they sold for hundreds more than a similar conventional convertible.  The many drawbacks of the design eventually made customers shy away.  While the novelty of having a convertible with a solid top has benefits such as reduced noise, a more secure passenger area, and a certain sense of exclusivity, there are drawbacks.  Most prominent are the added complexity and resultant reliability problems, and the loss of valuable trunk space.  Corvettes aren’t exactly known for their trunk space. While it has long been a Corvette design rule that the car must be able to hold a full bag of golf clubs, there isn’t a lot of room for much else.

The company that completed the conversion, Drop Top Customs by Convertible Builders LLC, seems to be quite established and professional when you look at their website.  They currently build convertible versions of the Cadillac ATS, Dodge Challenger, and even a four door convertible version of the Dodge Charger.  While they do not offer a convertible conversion for Corvettes at this time, they claim to stock parts for all the cars they have offered.

Other than the retractable top, this car is a typical C5 Corvette in cream puff condition.  The car has around 48,000 miles on the odometer, and boasts a leather interior, automatic transmission, and a Bose stereo system.  Based on the condition of the interior and exterior as documented in the photographs, you can assume that this car lived a garaged and pampered existence.  Corvettes are either found like this or beaten to death.  There seems to be little middle ground.

The abbreviated picture of the engine compartment reveals no modifications or signs of tampering.  While one might tolerate speed parts if the seller gives off the air of being a gentleman racer, pampered cars like this often have chrome and/or custom parts plastered all over the engine compartment to “dress them up a little.”  Thankfully, this one was kept in stock condition.  The 5.7 liter V-8 of that year put out 345 horsepower.  More than enough horsepower to make these Corvettes a blast to drive.

Is the retractable hardtop worth the extra cash?  Maybe if you live or work in a high crime area.  Then again, if you lived or worked in a place like that you wouldn’t want to sport around in a flashy car.  Likely this car was converted by a Corvette lover that just had to have something different.  Some Corvette people love to take newer Vettes to car shows, and they want something to set them apart from the crowd.  This car certainly does that.  However, does that uniqueness still warrant a large price difference over a convertible in the same condition?


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    Great party (cruise in) trick but it looks cumbersome but because it is rare and in fine condition it may bring close to the money. Ford also offered the Skyliner in 1959. Also I do like the Fairway green color on those C5 Vettes.

    Like 7
  2. KeithK

    Definitely a fair weather cruiser for a person with a garage. I work at a new car dealership that includes VW. It seems that there is an endless parade of VW EOS under the water leak test apparatus. The old adage still stands. If you buy a car with a hole in the top,you get a car with a hole in the top.

    Like 5
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      Keith, how can you say that about the VW EOS?!?!!? My brother has one that he bought (used, cheap!) for his daughter-it doesn’t leak anymore than my ‘76 Spitfire did with its ripped top and lack of weatherstripping anywhere! ⛈
      VW really showed their engineering prowess with that one, and no assistance from the company for an updated fix.

      Like 4
      • KeithK

        I just call em as I see em. I drive by the “rain booth” 4 times a day 6 days a week. Not a week goes by that an EOS isn’t in there with a VW tech sitting on his butt watching it get rained on. I work on the Honda side and we joke that VW techs get paid in cigarettes while watching for EOS leaks.

        Like 4
      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        My point was in total agreement with yours, Keith-German engineering (or perhaps the actual construction of the German Engineering) is nothing of what it was 60 years ago..
        But still marginally better than a Spitfire.
        And yes-Convertibles are vastly more prone to leak!

        Like 3
  3. Frank Sumatra

    Never an option.

    Like 1
    • Rx7turboII

      Nobody said it was ever an option…

      Like 5
      • Frank Sumatra

        Headline says “Unique Option”. This garbage was never on a GM option list for this Corvette. The headline should read “Another Stupid Thing To Do To A Corvette”

        Like 5

        OK, nobody said it was a FACTORY option. :-)
        It’s always an option to pay someone to modify your car.
        BTW, the color was pretty unique, as only 223 1998 Corvettes were painted Fairway Green.

        Like 1
    • JimmyinTEXAS

      Aftermarket option, for the man with money he doesn’t know what else to do with. But it is cool, and I do like that color.

      Like 3
  4. JamesHank

    So I pay for a can opener of my top and now it’s rare ?
    It’s nice but the same theory could apply if I scraped the side of my Vette against an odd object that is not recreatable 😏

    Like 1
  5. Frank Sumatra

    Headline says “Unique Option”. This garbage was never on a GM option list for this Corvette. The headline should read “Another Stupid Thing To Do To A Corvette”

    Like 1
  6. Andre

    I don’t think it’s awful. At least in closed position it follows the lines of the FRC/C5Z cars pretty well.

    Like 4
    • moosie moosie

      Andre, it deviates from the looks of the FRC ever so slightly but just enough to make it look odd. I’d probably be happier with a true convertible, with or without the optional hardtop. Those fixed roof coupes are nice also, The appearance of this one just turns me off.

  7. Mark Evans

    Never been a Corvette guy, but this appeals to me. Don’t hate on it if it’s not for you. It looks well executed.

    Like 13
  8. Jay S.

    Ford offered the Fairlane Skyliner in 1959 also.


      Correct. BTW early in the ’59 model year they then changed the name from Fairlane to Galaxie.

      Like 1
      • Jay S.

        The Galaxie line was added in ’59, and the name appeared on the right and left rear quarter panels. The Fairlane name was still on the trunk lid. The Galaxie had thick C pillar and flat rear window, similar (intentionally) the ’59 Thunderbird.The Fairlane 500 series also had the Fairlane name on the trunk lid, and had Fairlane 500 on both rear quarter panels. The 500 had a thinner C pillar and rap around rear window.
        Ford sold over 460,000 Galaxies, including 12,900 Skyliners.

        Like 1
    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      No, Jay, not TMI-you corrected my younger brothers assertion that they were one and the same, despite my unsubstantiated belief to the contrary of his. Thanks!!! I O U 1👍🏻

  9. ACZ

    Does a rain coat come with it?

    Like 1
    • JimmyinTEXAS

      Nah, you pick those up down at the Rexall.

  10. Sal

    I’m not a vette guy, but I like it.
    I think the rule should be: If you don’t have a garage, don’t buy a convertible.

    Though not all convertibles are created equally. My wife’s 95 mustang doesn’t leak a drop. My 96 camaro on the other hand…..

    Like 2
  11. Al

    Have the good fortune to own an 01 Vette convertible and a 07 Mustang convert. Neither leak a drop, course when you never drive a Vette in the rain you minimize the chance of leaks.

    Like 1
  12. RP

    I’ve driven my C5 drop top in some pretty wicked thunderstorms and heavy squalls and I discovered if you put the top up you have less of a chance of getting wet.

    Go figure.

    Like 5
    • moosie moosie

      I’ve heard that if you drive fast enough with the top down in the rain you wont get wet ?

  13. Ron

    I don’t see this adding any value to the car, it’s an aftermarket modification, they rarely increase the value of a vehicle.

    Like 1
    • moosie moosie

      Ron what about Motion Corvettes/Chevys, Yenko cars, Mr Norms MOPARS, Hurst Oldsmobiles ETC, ETC. But in the case of this Corvette I agree.

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