The one thing that most of us can agree on is that convertibles look way cooler than regular cars. Take any car, hack the roof off, and it instantly looks better and more desirable. Well, a Kia dealership in Florida did just that with a Stinger GT and it looks just as cool as we hoped it would. The Kia Stinger convertible dubbed the “Stinger GT-C” by the dealership is a one-off build by Drop Top Customs who has made several other unconventional convertibles over the years including a Chrysler 300 convertible, Cadillac Eldorado convertible, and more. After launching in 2017, you can easily find a used Kia Stinger for sale if you want a custom convertible of your own.
The Stinger GT-C was unveiled at the Festivals Of Speed car show in Orlando back in March 2021. Other than the convertible roof, the Stinger GT-C also featured an updated exterior with a multi-piece body kit, carbon fiber accents, 20-inch Axe forged alloy wheels, and a carbon fiber hood. Some performance enhancements were also done including a tuned intake, upgraded exhaust, and Eibach lowering springs.
Under the hood, the GT-C continues to get the standard 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engine that produces 368 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque, but improved performance is expected with this particular example thanks to Velossa Tech ram air intakes, AEM filters, and an upgraded Mishimoto intercooler. The exhaust is also swapped out with Ultimate Performance downpipes and mid-pipes along with a custom cat-back setup. RaceChip software further improves throttle response and performance.
But, the added weight of the reinforcements and roof mechanism will certainly hamper performance to a certain limit. The regular GT model with the V6 engine sprints to 60 MPH in 4.4 seconds and crosses the quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds.
For 2022, the Stinger also gets a new 2.5L turbocharged Inline-4 engine that produces 300 hp. Both engines are paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission that works well with quick response and shifts. The GT model also gets high-performance Brembo brakes as standard along with grippy tires like most performance sedans. Because of the new engine, efficiency has also improved significantly and the new powertrain is expected to return 22 MPG in the city and 32 MPG on the highway.
Kia has also played with the styling for 2022 and includes several updates like upgraded lights, wheel designs, exhaust tips, and more. The interior also gets its fair share of updates including new metallic trim pieces, ambient lighting, and a larger 10.3-inch infotainment system.
The custom design of the GT-C also extends to the inside with black leather upholstery that matches the overall design theme of the car.
The dealership also explained that it is just a concept for now, and there are no production models planned in the near future. The company did talk about real-world testing, so there is a possibility of the Stinger GT-C reaching showrooms, or at least we hope so. Unfortunately, it’s still unclear whether the roof is operated electronically or manually. It’s also unclear whether modifications were made to the chassis to improve structural rigidity like a regular convertible.
Usually, the roof plays a major role in the structural integrity of a car, and if it is removed without any extra reinforcement, the body will twist a lot and even become dangerous when driving fast. To avoid this, most manufacturers improve the bottom part of the chassis with heavy reinforcement brackets, making convertible models weigh more than their regular counterparts even with a soft-top roof. Convertibles are also limited in terms of aerodynamics since there’s no smooth roof over the car for air to flow.
While 4-door convertibles were common in the US back in the 1950s and 60s, they had a lot of shortcomings. Because of the larger openings, 4-door convertibles will need a much longer roof and a more complicated mechanism for stowing it away, bringing in a lot of complex engineering and cost. Because of this, all modern convertibles are based on 2-door coupes except for models like the Jeep Wrangler which gets a removable hardtop or soft-top design. Even Mercedes-Benz failed to release a 4-door convertible model of the S-Class dubbed the “Ocean Drive Concept” back in 2007 due to its complexity.
To bring 4-door convertibles to the modern era is a lot more complex than you may think. Since they require complex engineering and stronger structural rigidity, manufacturers will have to reinforce the A, B, and C pillars for optimal safety. Convertibles also limit safety features like curtain airbags and rollover protection unless there’s an exoskeleton structure like a Jeep Wrangler. All this reinforcement will add a lot of weight to the car, decreasing efficiency and performance. Because of all the extra complexity, manufacturers don’t build 4-door convertibles anymore.
Drop Top Customs, the company behind the Kia Stinger GT-C is known for converting regular cars into convertibles and is well known for building custom convertibles for over 4 decades. The company sells around 60 models each year, and has converted several models including a Dodge Challenger, Cadillac ATS, Chrysler 300, and more.
Converting a car will cost around $20,000 depending on the model, and involves various processes. More than 200 pounds of steel reinforcements are added depending on the model to keep the chassis rigid and communicative. This is especially important for performance models like the Stinger GT and Challenger. All the other components like doors, windows, seat belt mechanisms, and more are modified to accommodate the convertible roof.
The Kia Stinger GT-C cost the dealer around $20,000 for the conversion. With the regular model starting at $44,735, expect to pay well over $50,000 if the convertible model is released. In all probability, Kia might launch a coupe version of the Stinger, and that will get a convertible roof option.
As of today, less than 1% of new cars being bought are convertibles, which is a steep decline from 60% back in the 1960s. Because of modern safety standards and complex roof designs, convertibles have also become a lot more expensive. Because of this, most manufacturers are focusing on regular models. But, for now, let’s just admire the Stinger GT-C in all its pomp and glory.