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The Pontiac G6 Had a Retractable Hardtop -- Just Like Mercedes and BMW!

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author photo by Aaron Gold October 2016

For a while, retractable hardtops were all the rage. You'd find them on cars like the Volvo C70, the Mercedes-Benz SL and SLK, the BMW Z4 and the Cadillac XLR. The Ferrari California had one, as did the Spyker C8 Spyder.

And so did the Pontiac G6.

What could have possessed Pontiac to fit such a complex and expensive-to-engineer top to the humble G6? Perhaps it was an attempt to regain some of the Pontiac brand's lost excitement. Remember, this was a time when they were also offering the G6 as a handsome 2-door coupe and in (supposedly) exciting GXP form, all exclusive to the Pontiac brand. Besides the Saab 9-3, the G6 was the only vehicle based on GM's Epsilon platform to offer a drop-top version. (And yes, Pontiac G6 owners, you are free to use that tidbit in a vain attempt to keep people from walking away at car shows. You're welcome.) Whatever they were doing, it ultimately didn't work -- proven by the fact that we must now refer to Pontiac in the past tense.

Back to our story: The G6 Convertible was a pretty neat piece of kit, at least as far as the top was concerned. I reviewed one back around 2007, and I recall that the top mechanism worked well and that the car looked good, no matter which position the top was in.

Unfortunately, those are the only nice things I can say about the Pontiac G6 convertible.

The complaint list is so long that it would overload our servers, but here are the highlights: The transmission was an old-tech 4-speed, the interior plastics were of the sort from which cheap Chinese toys are made, and the trunk was nearly impossible to pack with the top down. GM's build quality was suspect at the time, and I'm sure many potential owners had a moment for pause before committing to the purchase of such a complicated piece of engineering from the General.

But the worst problem -- the unforgivable sin -- was the way the body quivered and quaked when the top was stowed. It's not like the phenomenon of cowl shake was unknown. It's not like General Motors hadn't been building open-top cars for, oh, a century or so. It's like they just couldn't be bothered.

A friend of mine put it best: "Great top. Too bad about the car underneath." You could do much worse than the Pontiac G6 convertible, and I can say that with confidence only because Chrysler offered a retractable-hardtop version of the Sebring.

Still, it was cool that this car even existed in the first place, as it shows a genuine (if ultimately not well-executed) plan to bring the Pontiac brand back to prominence. It failed, but the G6 Convertible will no doubt be an interesting collectible in a few years time... assuming any of them last that long.

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The Pontiac G6 Had a Retractable Hardtop -- Just Like Mercedes and BMW! - Autotrader