Daily Features

WE PICK THE COOLEST HARDTOPS FROM THE 40S TO THE 60S

By on August 27, 2016
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The hardtop was around in one form or another since the early days of the automobile.

 

‘However, we want to concentrate on the post-WWII style of hardtop and pick the best of the bunch.’

 

For our purposes, the hardtop will be a North American-built car that does not have a B-pillar.

 

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There are typically 3 roof support pillars on a car. The A-pillar is the one that holds the windshield and supports the front section of the roof.

 

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The C-pillar is the one that supports the rear window and roof section. The B-pillar is the middle section pillar and supports the mid part of the roof and side glass on a car.

 

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The boys from Detroit decided to remove the B-pillar on late 40s cars so they could give the vehicles a cleaner, open air look.

 

The B pillar-less cars were sometimes called the hardtop convertible because they were supposed to give the vibe of a convertible with its roof in the up position. The fixed roof was made of metal-thus the hardtop designation in Detroit automotive lingo.

 

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The first mass production hardtops from Detroit hit the showrooms in the late 40s when cars got their first major facelift in a decade.

 

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The new look 1949 Cadillac two-door hardtop was an instant flagship for the new style from Detroit. The lack of a B-pillar and cool restyle on the C-pillar put the ’49 Caddy at the head of the class for the pioneer hardtop movement.

 

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Our question about the 1949 Caddy 2-door hardtop is very simple: how can you possibly make this ride cooler than its baby fins/ short-one-roof pillar factory style? It was our top choice for coolest 40s-era 2-door hardtop.

 

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The Fifties saw a huge increase in Detroit’s 2-door hardtop market and the choices opened up a heated race for coolest Detroit style during the fabulous 50s.

 

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The most iconic 2-door hardtop had to be the 1957 Ford retractable hardtop. The Ford retractable had a three year model run from 1957 to ’59 and was an engineering marvel in the late 50s.

 

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These cars had a conventional hardtop look with a big twist because the full metal roof disappeared into the trunk at the push of a button. A true hardtop convertible.

 

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The most notable feature of conventional hardtops in the late 50s was the C-pillar because it got thinner as the decade came to a close. The coolest non-retractable hardtop was found on the 1959 Plymouths because a thin sliver of chrome-covered C-pillar was the end point of a very stylish rear roof curve.

 

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The ’59 Plymouth’s style may have compromised the ability to survive a rollover but it was built during an era where seat belts were an option, so passengers would likely ejected before the roof collapsed in a rollover.

 

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The hardtop era continued in the Sixties and featured many stellar candidates for coolest 2-door hardtops.

 

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We could easily have picked the 1960 Ford, the 1961 Chevy bubble top, the 1963 ½ Ford Galaxie, the 1965 GTO, or the 1966 Chevelle. These 60s-era two door hardtops will win beauty contests every time they hit the street.

 

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But we picked the 1968 Dodge Charger for our coolest two-door hardtop choice from the Sixties.

 

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‘The ’68 Charger was a hardtop with a fastback roof line that oozed style. It is our runaway choice for coolest 60s-era two door hardtop.’

 

Jim Sutherland

 

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