As part of our Business of Design special report, we asked leading car designers to give us their all-time favorite convertibles. Here are the picks from Ralph Gilles, senior vice president for product design, Chrysler Group LLC.
Porsche 356 Speedster
I love its simplicity. Its iconic influence in pop culture is hard to ignore (James Dean owned and raced a version of the 356, car #23F)
Ferrari 250GT California SWB
One of the most beautiful convertibles of all time; it has incredible proportions with its long hood that houses the V-12 engine and a wonderful tapering belt line that marries beautifully into the rear fender.
1935 Alfa Romeo 8C – 2900b
I only see this beauty at car shows like Pebble Beach, which it has won. In my opinion, it is the most elegant of its era because it wasn't ridiculously long and ostentatious. A restrained design with a very low profile and very clean lines, it still takes my breath away. It's cousin of that era, the 6C, is a close runner-up!
1957-1959 Cadillac Biarritz
This could be one of the most conspicuous cars ever made. It is so outrageous with its outside fins and gigantic presence that it charms all who behold it. A symbol of Americana with a penchant for arriving in style!
Shelby Cobra 427
Its roadster shape has changed lives and hearts forever. It has remained a benchmark in performance and beauty for nearly five decades.
1960s Jaguar E-Type
The E-type, in my book, is in a dead heat with the Ferrari 250GT as likely one of the most beautiful convertibles ever made. My heart still skips a beat when I see one in person. It is so elegant with its continuous fuselage shape and bullet-like aerodynamic profile. It has clearly inspired the new F-type that is beautiful as well
Aston Martin DB9 Volante
In contrast to most of the others on my list, the modern Aston Volante is more elegant as a modern car than its predecessors. In 2006, Aston perfected its shape vocabulary and created something that will be special for years to come. This Brit is simply stunning.
1968 Lamborghini Miura
While more of a targa than a true convertible, it is a timeless beauty. Its (at the time) unique transverse mid-engine layout gave it unique proportions that would inspire a whole generation of supercars!