The Mercedes-Benz SLK may have been the most eagerly awaited roadster at Geneva, but Maserati, Lamborghini, Chevrolet, Rolls Royce, BMW and others displayed flashy droptops of their own.

The Mercedes-Benz SLK may have been the most eagerly awaited roadster at Geneva, but Maserati, Lamborghini, Chevrolet, Rolls Royce, BMW and others displayed flashy droptops of their own.


The Italian complement of the Geneva Show droptop brigade comprised the Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster and the Maserati MC12, the road-going Grand Tourer version of the company’s GT racer. Styled by Giugiaro and based on a design by Ferrari/Maserati design chief Frank Stephenson, MC12’s bodywork consists entirely of carbonfibre, including its removable hard top, and rides on an all-aluminium chassis.


The car is powered by a mid-mounted 470 kW six-litre V12 (borrowed from the Ferrari Enzo, no doubt) linked to a six-speed paddle-shifted auto-manual gearbox. Maserati says it will build about 25 examples for road use, and five more for the racing program. In 2005, they’ll build another 25.


Fitted with the same 432 kW 6,2-litre V12 as its coupé sibling, Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster intends to remain true to the legacy created by the 350 GTS, Miura Roadster and the Diablo Roadster. The production Murcielago Roadster goes on sale in the second half of 2004.


Meanwhile, the Rolls Royce 100EX was one of the unexpected stars of the show, not least because it has been 46 years since the last EX (experimental) Rolls Royce was produced.


Created to celebrate 100 years of Rolls Royce, and to prepare the market for the forthcoming production car of a similar type, the 100EX is based on a slightly shortened version of the Phantom’s aluminium space-frame and is powered by a nine litre V16.


The most striking aspect of the car is from the front where the traditional upright Rolls Royce grille has been reclined slightly and leads seamlessly into the polished aluminium surface of the grille surround and bonnet. Dramatic forward opening doors lead into an interior which features materials inspired by luxury yachts, reported recently.


Designed in California at BMW’s Designworks, the 100EX is, in the words of interior designer Charles Coldham, “1930s extravagance in feeling, not in form”. If you say so, Mr Coldham.


The convertible version of the 300 kW, V8-powered sixth-generation 2005 Corvette will be unleashed on the US market in the fourth quarter of the year, hot on the heels of the late-summer showroom debut of the new coupe. Its has an optional power-operated soft-top —last offered on a Corvette in 1962, claimed. Designed at the outset with a droptop in mind, the open-air Vette retains the C6 coupe’s ride, handling and performance—with its top up or down—claims chief engineer Dave Hill.