Best Convertibles of All-Time: Ford Design Chief Picks 'Em

Image source: Jaguar Land Rover

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 J Mays, group vice president for design and chief creative officer, Ford Motor.

1932 Ford Roadster
Introduced during the depths of the Great Depression, this one-year only design became the single-most desirable basis for the American (and now global) hot road genre and remains so some 80 years after its introduction.

1930s Mercedes 500K/540K Roadster/Convertible
It was the ultimate statement of the most desirable German automotive brand of the 20th century and is now among the most highly priced collectibles of all the time.

1955 Porsche 356 Spyder
Purity in design even in today's context, it was a stunning design departure from nearly every other 1950s convertible design across the world.

1957-59 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider LWB
Three of the most desirable Italian convertibles of all-time were introduced in the late 1950s-1960s by Ferrari (250 GT Spider, 275 Spider and 365 GTB Daytona Spider). Of the three, my pick is the 250GT, now ranked amongst the most highly valued automotive collectibles in the world.

1961 Jaguar XK-E/E-Type Convertible
A permanent exhibit at the New York Museum of Modern Art—kind of says it all, doesn't it?

Image source: Ford Motor Company

1961 Lincoln Continental Convertible
A brave new statement in luxury automobiles, it completely reset the clock for American automotive design. The four-door convertible design and center opening doors were merely the icing on the cake.

1966 Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider
Widely regarded as a design classic, the Italian firm of Pininfarina was responsible for the design. The Duetto was the last project with which founder Battista Pinin Farina was personally involved.

1966 Mercedes SL Pagoda
The 250SL W 113 "Pagoda" is considered a highly desirable collectors car. It is the most desirable of the three "Pagoda" models (230SL, 250SL, 280 SL) with the 250 SL being quite a bit rarer.

1999 Audi TT Roadster
The TT is often regarded as the vehicle that made people take a second look at Audi. The TT's styling is regarded by many as a watershed moment in automobile design. From its introduction as a concept car in 1995 and as a production car in 1998, the design was regarded by many as bold, innovative, and revolutionary. (Editor's Note: Mays worked on the design of this car.)

2004 Aston Martin DB9 Volante
The Volante has been designed, engineered and built from the outset as a convertible. It's not a coupe with just the top taken off. It's very elegant and perfectly proportioned from every angle, while subtle embellishments help create a powerful-looking sports car. (Editor's Note: Mays worked on the design of this car.)

2014 Ford Mustang Convertible
For its 50th year of production, the 2014 Ford Mustang continues to deliver performance, style, substance, technology and driver tools. This is the car I am driving this summer! (Editor's Note: Mays worked on the design of this car.)

J Mays is group vice president, design, and chief creative officer, Ford Motor.

Want to find out the cars others top designers picked as their favorite convertibles of all-time? Click below!

Walter de Silva—head of group design, Volkswagen AG

Ralph Gilles—president and chief executive officer, SRT brand and motorsports and senior vice president, product design, Chrysler Group LLC

Adrian van Hooydonk—head of design, BMW Group

Ed WelburnGM vice president, global design

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