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Targa tops and Targa flops - the best and worst Targas ever made

Stuart Gallagher
24 Mar 2016

Inspired by the recent MX-5 RF unveil, we list a few Targa favourites and some failings

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The Targa roof is nothing new, but not all have been successful in their execution. Here’s our pick of the good, the bad and the ugly.

1 Porsche 911 Targa - Top

The most iconic and famous Targa? Quite possibly. It came to be because Porsche was caught out when it thought a law was to be introduced in its biggest market, North America, outlawing open topped cars that didn’t feature an integrated roll over bar. 

Porsche’s answer was the Targa, a 911 with a removable roof panel that fitted between the windscreen header rail and the roll hoop linking the b-pillars. Early cars had a rear window that could be zipped out of the way but this was soon replaced with a glass window. The roof panel was stored in the car’s front bonnet. The legislation Porsche feared was never introduced but the Targa has been an ever present in the 911 line up since its 1967 introduction. 

>Read our Mazda MX-5 RF preview

2 Triumph TR250 Surrey - Top

Wildly regarded as the first production car to use a Targa top, the Triumph TR4 appeared in 1961 with a lift out centre roof panel and a wrap around rear window.

3 Fiat X1/9 - Top

Launched in 1972 the mid-engined roadster was styled by Bertone and was initially powered by a 1290cc, four-cylinder engine driving the rear-wheels through a four-speed gearbox. In 1982 Bertone took over production, inheriting the more powerful 1.5-litre engine and a five-speed gearbox. 

The original cars weighed just 880kg and 160,000 examples were built between Fiat and Bertone during the car’s 17 year life, which came to an end in 1989.

4 Nissan 100NX - Flop

Flop. Why? It was based on a Sentra (Google won’t help you, we tried), powered by wheezing 1.6 and 2-litre engines and the T-bar roof was an option although in the UK most came with it. Like many Japanese cars from this era, it was built between 1990-96, its quirky looks promised a break from the norm but the driving experience was just that. 

>Read our Porsche 911 Targa review

5 Ferrari F50 - Top

The F50’s 513bhp 4.7-litre V12 was donated from Alain Prost’s 1990 Ferrari 642 Formula 1 car, it had a carbon fibre tub and rose jointed suspension. And when it was new journalists preferred its predecessor, the F40. 

But over time the F50 has established itself as one of the great Ferrari hyper cars, winning evo’s Ferrari shoot out between the 288GTO, F40 and Enzo and one of our all time great Ferraris and great road cars. 

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Other great Targa roofed cars: Porsche Carrera GT, Lotus Elise, Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster, Ferrari Dino and F355GTS, TVR Tuscan Speed Six. Other not so great Targas? Step forward Renault Wind, Bentley Continental SC, Honda NSX-T, Toyota Supra and the Ferrari 348 TS. 

Experience the thrill of driving every month with evo magazine, devoted exclusively to the greatest performance cars in the world. If you're passionate about performance cars then evo is your ultimate monthly read.

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