Convertible Conversions

Convertible Conversions

Newport Convertible Engineering (formerly Newport Car Conversions)

Magazine Article #1

A Topless, Turbo NSX – Teaming up to make an exoticar even more exotic

 by Steve Statham - Autoweek, March 6, 1995

Most "tuner cars" spring from the vision of one person and are the product of one shop, but sometimes competing visions can be combined to great effect. Recently, Bell Engineering in San Antonio, Texas, maker of turbo kits, and Newport Car Conversions Inc., in Norwalk, Calif., which specializes in convertible conversions, worked together for a customer who wanted both for his Acura NSX.

Newport’s efforts are the most visible. The company has been doing convertible conversions for nearly I I years, and the NSX fits right in with the prestige cars on which the company built its reputation. "People have really responded well," says Newport’s Mathew Kahn, who estimates his company is converting 20 to 25 NSXs a year. To do the job, Newport needs the car for about four weeks. The convertible top consists of a targa roof section and a rear piece made from canvas. The roof and canvas fit in the trunk, while the overhead top support bar folds up neatly under a fiberglass boot. The chassis, naturally, is reinforced.

Ragtop conversion costs $14,500, uses slots and velcro to attach to support bar.

Even though Acura has an NSX with factory targa top waiting in the wings, Kahn figures that few NSX owners will trade in their still-newish cars on an expensive new targa model, but they might be enticed to pop for his targa conversion at $8,500, or the full-boat convertible conversion at $14,500.

Invisible externally, but certainly noticeable from behind the wheel is Bell’s twin-turbo conversion. Corky Bell has been creating turbo kits for 20 years, the last three under the Bell Engineering name. So far, the company has sold 12 of the $7,850 NSX twin-turbo kits. CARB certification is pending for the NSX system, but since the turbos and intercoolers are located aft of the catalytic converters and no emission controls have been disconnected, the company anticipates few problems with legality.

Twin Aerodyne turbos fit behind the rear wheels and carry their own oil reservoir. Variable vane design lets turbos spool up quicker, providing improved power at low speeds.

During our brief ride-and-drive we found the thrust from the turbos intoxicating, not to mention license-threatening. The power delivery was smooth, with no hiccups or glitches, and there was only slight shushing sound to let us know the turbos were in use. The convertible too seemed well-made and was reasonably quiet at speed, but headroom will be tight for a six-footer. Still, there’s little arguing with the visual, and visceral, impact this car makes. Perhaps two tuners are better than one.

Magazine Article #2

SIDEBAR: Running Wide Open – Honda’s supercar goes convertible.

 In one respect, Acura's NSX is exactly like any other exotic sports car: someone,  somewhere will want to heighten its appeal by lopping off its top. Doron Izakov made the rounds of conversion shops,  looking for one willing to cut into the NSX's unique aluminum structure. Newport Car Conversions in Norwalk, California,  agreed to use his car as a prototype to develop an NSX convertible.
 The result is an intriguing open-air car with handsome, well-integrated lines, an  easy-to-operate top, and decent chassis rigidity. Newport can duplicate Izakov's car for about $15,000.
 This conversion is something of a targa/soft-top hybrid. A hard, canvas-covered-fiberglass  roof panel unbolts--using the Corvette's cute little ratchet wrench and four screws--and stows in the trunk. The car  can be driven that way. In fact, for those who prefer the targa configuration, Newport offers that conversion as  well. (And Honda will release its own targa option late this year.)
 But a pop-top doesn't give the same open-air driving experience as a full convertible. To  get that from the Newport conversion, just pull off the rear canvas panel. It has snaps around the lower edge and  hook-and-loop strips across the top on an overhead bar. This bar (to which the targa panel's rear edge bolts, when  everything is buttoned up) then unlocks and folds down. It hides under the hinged, black-fiberglass boot lid that  nicely fills the hole left by the sloping back glass of the original roof.
 Extensive bracing, using welded-in aluminum tubing, replaces much of the structural  integrity lost along with the original roof. So cowl flutter on bumps and rough pavement is minimal. And there is even  fairly good control of drafts and buffeting in the open cockpit. It is, in the end, a brilliant car made breezy. 

Owner’s Impressions


[BL – 99/1/19] This was my old Red twin turbo convertible NSX which I ran at Honda’s TRC test track at NSXpo ’98. While at TRC I did notice some flex with the convertibles body while doing the skidpad and the mini-track. The convertible chassis was reinforced with an aluminum (maybe steel?) sub-frame to keep the car from flexing. In my opionion, the car looked great but definately was not as rigid as a factory car. The $15,000 "chop-job" was done by Newport Conversions in southern California.


[A/H] You can call it sour grapes from the factory but please be careful when cutting the top off. I have photos of the reinforcement that Newport did to an NSX. REALLY SCARY. I went to their shop to ask what reinforcements they did and they wouldn’t talk to me (surprise surprise). I did try to help.

My fear is that a hardtop that is chopped and then involved in a front end collision will fold the dash down on someones legs. Please be careful.