Is this C5 Corvette retractable hardtop brilliant or bogus?

Sometimes you didn’t even know you needed something until it manifests before your very eyes. This retractable hardtop Corvette we spotted on Minneapolis’ Craigslist might be just that for a C5-generation fan. After all, if one-of-one is what you search for, this stands to be the only retractable Corvette at your local cruise-in. On the other hand, Corvette purists might prefer to kill it with fire.

This might come as a shock to you, but the retractable hardtop is not Chevrolet equipment. No production Corvettes have ever left the factory with a retractable hardtop. Of course, if drivers want it, the aftermarket will happily oblige. The listing claims the conversion was completed by Convertible Builders LLC, an operation based in High Springs, Florida.

Oddly enough, though, the beheading this ‘Vette received is not the only rare thing about it. The Fairway Green Metallic paint was a color that just 223 Corvettes received in 1998, accounting for less than one percent of total annual production.

1998 Corvette Convertible

The top is power-operated, and the included photos show how it works. It looks impressively designed, to be honest. No roll bar is fitted, though, which yields a sleek top-down silhouette but a considerable question mark in terms of rollover safety. According to the Convertible Builders website, each conversion gets a specifically designed heated glass rear window along with a proper headliner to match the interior. Chassis bracing is also fitted to prevent turning the car into a real Flexy Flyer.

I spoke with Larry Moran, sales executive at Convertible Builders, and he confirmed that the shop engineered the entire retractable setup in-house, installing it on approximately a dozen C5s. He confirmed, too, that the shop provides ongoing repair or replacement support for previous conversions.

If the repair is anything like the initial $18,000, though, your wallet probably shudders at the thought.

While elegantly executed, I think the kit over-complicates a great budget-friendly sports car. A C5 convertible represents attainable performance and V-8-powered cruising, and I can’t imagine the retractable hardtop is much quieter on the road. Still, even I have to admit the roofline looks pretty close to a fixed-roof C5 coupe, which is by far my preferred modern Corvette variant.

Is this retractable hardtop Corvette the hack you’ve been waiting for? Tell us why in the comments. You might change my mind.

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