Richard Straman Coachworks - 1980s - Costa Mesa, California


R. Straman Co. - 350 McCormick - Costa Mesa, California

Ferrari ended the production run of NART Spyders after ten cars. But the demand in the US market for them launched the career of Richard Straman. As a young engineer and coachbuilder, he was commissioned in the early 1970's to convert a GTB/4 coupe into a Spyder. The quality of his work was so exceptional that other Ferrari owners came forward and several more cars were completed. Over the last three decades Straman has made countless cars into ragtops. One of the most recent was a Ferrari 550 Maranello, a car with strong styling and heritage links to the GTB/4. It is as spectacular as you would imagine. But once again Ferrari seems unconvinced that there is a substantial market for a ragtop grand tourer.

The first convertible Avanti was built the same year by Richard Straman in California

1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 Conversion from Coupe to Spyder by Richard Straman.

A black German-owned 365 GTB/S4 Daytona Spyder conversion by Richard Straman changed hands in the aftersale for 245.743,-SFr and will stay in Germany.

1992 Dodge Stealth R/T Convertible Conversions by Richard Straman in Newport Beach. 

This is a 1991 R. Straman custom convertible Stealth R/T... Let us all observe a moment of silence for this beautiful automobile... wow... I've read that it was a $14,000 conversion, and due to that, only about 2 dozen were ever made. THAT'S a rare car...

Richard Straman started chopping Ferraris roof 30 years ago with the 275 GTB , then the daytona , then he did some BB spiders , Testa Spiders and apparently he did a very nice 550 Maranello spider which i would love to see ..

Straman Supercharged 456 Convertible - I think it's Mr Straman's personal car .

i think he was based in cali but he retired last year ..

He also did custom job with Mercedes SEC , 300 ZX , Bentleys etc... amg tuned Mercedes 560 sec convertibl

I saw a Bmw 740i chopped by them on eBay once

1991 r/t twin turbo stealth convertible conversion.     conversion done by r. straman company of costa mesa, ca at a cost of $14,000 in 1991

This car was built in 1984 by R. Straman in Costa Mesa, California. Straman built convertible conversions for many different cars, including Ferraris, the Dodge Stealth, the Z32 (1990-1994) 300 ZX, new Beetle, etc. Apparantly he did a number of these before the factories did, and they either bought rights to or copied his designs. The previous owner told me that this car is one of eleven 300ZXs that Straman modified.


Straman Spider Conversions

A company setup by Richard Straman and located in Newport, California. This company is the best known Testarossa Spider Conversions specialist. 



More flash and dash per unit cash. by Kevin Smith - Car & Driver, Oct 1990

Nissan's new-for- 1990 300ZX rewrote the performance rules for Japanese sports cars. It isn't a cheap ride, with the twin-turbo version zinging through the $30,000 barrier like a bullet through peach fuzz. But we can't complain. That's because no previous car--at anything near the price has combined acceleration, grip, stability, lightness to the touch, and unapologetic comfort in the levels the new ZX does.

It was inevitable that retrofitters would add the pleasures of open-air motoring to that list of appealing characteristics. And equally inevitable that one of the first to do so would be Richard Straman, of the Costa Mesa, California, design-fabrication-restoration firm bearing his name. The R. Straman Company's reputation for quality metalwork has expanded its business from top-drawer restoration of collectible cars into specialty engineering and prototyping for major manufacturers. But through it all, the creation of convertible conversions has been a mainstay. The previous 300ZX was a popular candidate, so the new car went under the torch as well.

For a conversion price of $8500, Straman craftsmen turn your squat and menacing 1990 NIssan 300ZX coupe into a convertible that retains an aggressive look--top up or down. The roof is cut off, the rear hatch is unbolted, and the interior is completely gutted. Then begins the process of restoring most of the structural stiffness lost in the removal of all that steel overhead. A U-shaped bulkhead is welded in behind the cockpit, to close off the trunk. This provides a well for the folded top and ties together the car's right and left sides around the rear-suspension pickup points. A roll bar (the lawyers might prefer it be called a "stiffening hoop") is also part of the deal, since the ZX doors have to keep those funny stand-up ears to locate the upper seatbelt anchor points and the side windows' guide pins. Underneath, of course, is the usual bracing running the length of the rocker panels. Various other bits counter any local flexing that Straman has identified.

In addition to the power-operated folding top, Straman constructs and installs a steel trunk lid and some filler pieces at the beltline above the rear wheels (the one area of the conversion that looks a little unsettled). Then he reinstalls the interior, crafting new trim as required, and sends the car on its way.

And the car gets on its way smartly. Performance is essentially unaffected by the rework, which adds only about 25 pounds to the car s curb weight and controls chassis flex remarkably well. In fact, we were impressed with how like the standard coupe the convertible feels: the same solid stance on the road, responsive steering, pleasant ride, and blistering acceleration. (Straman engineered the conversion for the twin-turbo car, which, of course, is the worst-case scenario in terms of stress.) There is a touch of the cowl flutter that every ragtop this side of the 911 suffers--evident as a mild lateral waggle in the steering wheel over very uneven surfaces--but only a touch. If reduced rigidity has degraded the Straman 300ZX's handling, it isn't detectable--at least not on Southern California roads.

As a convertible, the Straman ZX works beautifully. The close-fitting soft top might make some drivers feel claustrophobic, but we've heard that complaint about the coupe's low roof as well. And this canvas top can be struck in a few seconds. Wind flows smoothly over the steeply raked windshield, allowing almost normal top-down conversation on the highway. A turbulent "curl" starts to blow in the driver's left ear at speeds above 70 mph.

Little about the 300ZX's performance is compromised by the Straman convertible conversion. Some ultimate rigidity may have been lost, but not enough to dissuade an enthusiast from indulging the car's ability to generate gratifyingly high dynamic loads. It's still a big, fast, high-performance heavyweight. And if the car's flash and dash per unit cash brought sweat to the brow of Porsche and Corvette loyalists before, watch out: it really turns up the heat as a racy roadster.

Car & Driver, Oct90, Vol. 36 Issue 4, p152,


Back to the open top spirit of the sixties

The retro-inspired new VW Beetle gave the auto industry a breath of fresh air when it was introduced little over three years ago. Its fresh design and engineering is said to be leading the auto industry into the second millennium.

However, the excitement is restricted to one form only. And like the old times, many diehard Beetle lovers would like to have a whiff of fresh air while driving their all-time favourite. Though VW hasnít got that option in mind for now, thereís help at hand from a very well-know name in the business in the US.
Reputed automobile designer, coach and convertible builder, Richard Straman Co. Design and Coachbuilding lets the sun shine in this great new and fast selling automobile by offering a very attractive cabriolet model as an alternative to the production 2-door coupe.

Designed and engineered by Richard Straman, this new Beetle Cabriolet will be the industry standard for quality design and workmanship.

The cabriolet offers traditional open style driving, easy operating manual or power top - just detach the latch on each front pillar, push the toggle switch or simply pull back and the top neatly folds down.
The Straman designed cabriolet is the only one to feature standard, large, power rear quarter windows for added light and ventilation in the rear seating compartment. Mechanically, the chassis is converted and stiffened. A steel rod located over the boot acts as the backbone. The floor pan is stiffened with 1/3-inch steel tubes in addition to rectangular steel tubes in the A-pillars and boot sides.

On the inside, the rear interior sides are covered by a plastic, colour keyed trim moulding. On the centre console are either two or three toggle switches, one is for the power top and two are for the rear quarter windows.

It takes less than half a minute to open or close the top manually or with power. There is no loss of space for the rear occupants and cargo space can be increased substantially when the rear seats are folded down.

The top has a fully-lined insulator headliner that shields the occupants from wind noise and a big plastic window for rear viewing. The boot lid is wide enough to take in the spare wheel and other items of luggage.

The top can be had in several colours: black, tan, white, brown and white, with a matching soft canvas trunk. Body colours can be customised say Straman and so can be the engine, transmission according to the customerís wishes.

Straman assures its customers that in terms of fit and finish, their workmanship stands up to VWs stringent standards. As a measure of confidence, Straman offer a one-year warranty on the top covering, its mechanism, power rear windows and structural rigidity.

Sounds impressive. So whatís the price tag going to be like? Expect to cough up $9,995 for the manual top and $11,995 for the powered version. All you have to do is provide the donor Beetle. Under normal circumstances, Straman will deliver your converted beauty in 3-4 weeks.

In terms of volumes, Straman assures us that their existing set-up allows them to produce up to 20-cabrios per week. And the response? So far, 200 inquiries have been handled, claim Straman.

Driving impressions speak for themselves. The claims that Straman had mentioned about structural rigidity, noise, vibration or harshness all fall in place and there is virtually nothing to complain about except that when you drive one around town, youíll be the centre of attention!



For more information please read:

Kevin Smith - Straman 300XZ Convertible - Car & Driver, Oct 1990

Beverly Rae Kimes - The Classic Car

Beverly Rae Kimes - The Classic Era

Beverly Rae Kimes - Packard: A History of the Motorcar and Company

Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark Jr. - Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942

Richard Burns Carson - The Olympian Cars

Raymond A. Katzell - The Splendid Stutz

Marc Ralston - Pierce Arrow

Brooks T. Brierley - There Is No Mistaking a Pierce Arrow

Brooks T. Brierley - Auburn, Reo, Franklin and Pierce-Arrow Versus Cadillac, Chrysler, Lincoln and Packard

Brooks T. Brierley - Magic Motors 1930

Nick Georgano - The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile: Coachbuilding

John Gunnell - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975

James M. Flammang & Ron Kowalke - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1976-1999

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Michael Lamm and Dave Holls - A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design

Thomas E. Bonsall - The Lincoln Motorcar: Sixty Years of Excellence

Fred Roe - Duesenberg: The Pursuit of Perfection

Arthur W. Soutter - The American Rolls-Royce

John Webb De Campi - Rolls-Royce in America

Hugo Pfau - The Custom Body Era

Hugo Pfau - The Coachbult Packard

Griffith Borgeson - Cord: His Empire His Motor Cars

Don Butler - Auburn Cord Duesenberg

George H. Dammann - 90 Years of Ford

George H. Dammann & James K. Wagner - The Cars of Lincoln-Mercury

Thomas A. MacPherson - The Dodge Story

F. Donald Butler - Plymouth-Desoto Story

Fred Crismon - International Trucks

George H. Dammann - Seventy Years of Chrysler

Walter M.P. McCall - 80 Years of Cadillac LaSalle

Maurice D. Hendry - Cadillac, Standard of the World: The complete seventy-year history

George H. Dammann & James A. Wren - Packard

Dennis Casteele - The Cars of Oldsmobile

Terry B. Dunham & Lawrence R. Gustin - Buick: A Complete History

George H. Dammann - Seventy Years of Buick

George H. Dammann - 75 Years of Chevrolet

John Gunnell - Seventy-Five Years of Pontiac-Oakland


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