Honda Designed An Absolutely Brilliant Powered Convertible Top For The Civic Del Sol

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Honda Designed An Absolutely Brilliant Powered Convertible Top For The Civic Del Sol

The Honda Civic del Sol (also marketed as CR-X del Sol in other markets) was a great little two-seat roadster that left us way too soon. First introduced to the U.S. for the 1993 model year, the del Sol was only sold for four years before it was discontinued in 1997. While the U.S. did get the del Sol in Si trim — a droptop two-seater with 160 horsepower weighing just over 2,400 pounds sounds fun as hell — we didn’t get all the good stuff.

Here in the U.S. all del Sols came with a targa-style aluminum hardtop that could be manually removed — there was no option for a powered roof. At just 24 pounds the roof could be easily stowed in the trunk, at least, and it only took up 2.2 cubic feet of the 10.5 cubic feet of trunk space. Japanese and European versions of the del Sol, meanwhile, got a power top option that was really something special.

Honda Del Sol TransTop Operation Video

Called TransTop, it featured a mechanism that automatically removed and stowed the top in the trunk at the touch of a button. First, the driver unlocked and unlatched two handles on either side of the roof from the interior. Then, once a dash-mounted button was pressed and held, the trunklid would rise vertically on two bars. At the same time, the rear part of the roof would unlatch. Once that was done, the driver would then depress the button and switch another roof-mounted latch from “close” to “open” before pressing the dash button again to continue the process.

Then, a short arm extended from the raised trunk deck lid and attached to the roof panel, lifting it up, pulling it back and stowing it inside the trunk lid — it essentially acted as a large drawer for the roof panel. The trunk lid then lowered back into place. It’s brilliant packaging, both cool and baffling at the same time, and it speaks volumes about Honda’s engineering expertise and the sense of fun its designers and engineers possess. What would otherwise be a cute and simple two-seat roadster was built with such a cool, complicated piece of machinery, and that rules.