Straman Convertible Conversions
This article discusses the rare Dodge Stealth and Mitsubishi 3000GT soft-top Straman convertibles, not to be confused with the later Spyder.
Most articles on these cars state that there were 12 Stealth conversions done in both 1991 and 1992, and all the known photos of documented Straman Stealth conversions have been of the Stealth R/T Turbo model. However, a white 1991 R/T, non-turbo, with the rare automatic has now been found.
Mr. Straman himself, however, recalls doing approximately 75 Stealth and 3000GT models in total. Capistrano Dodge offered the convertible as a 'dealer' option; they ordered the vehicle then shipped it to Richard Straman's Cosa Mesa, California shop for the conversion. Some were evidently done by private contract, as the white R/T may have been.
The quality of the conversion is remarkable. Much care has been taken to re-engineer the former hatch area so it appears seamless and "factory" made. The conversion has an actual trunk, behind the wing, which looks and feels indistinguishable from a "stock" creation. Interior trim pieces have the outer surface rolled under the cut, giving them a finished, designed look. Rear panels along side the rear seat have been custom fabricated to replace the factory covers, and speakers relocated into this panel. The thermostat, previously mounted on the interior roof, is relocated to the driver's side rear panel, under the speaker. According to Richard Straman, these cars were relatively easy conversions, as they required a minimum of structural bracing due to the inherent rigidity of the body, and the design of the hatch and rear body engineering.
A three layer Kartex top, custom made for the car, contains a layer of neoprene, which not only keeps it dry, but retains heat in the car, so even in the winter the car stays cozy and warm. Headroom in the rear seats is actually better in the convertible with the top up, than the standard car, due to the design of the top. The switch to raise and lower the top in the stealth conversions is mounted in the "coin tray" area in front of the CD player. The exact place the Spyder's control would be located, five years later. The vr-4 conversions top switch is located in the console cup holder area. This was done to accommodate the active aero switch which resides where the stealth top switch was placed.
Structural rigidity was maintained by adding reinforcements along the frame. Even though the car feels just as sound and rigid as the standard hardtop, the additional bracing adds a net gain of only 25 pounds to the curb weight of the car.
A small silver placard in the doorjamb authenticates a genuine Straman conversion. Reportedly, a few conversions were done by Coachworks in Florida, and there are unsubstantiated reports that a couple were done by ASC, a company known for converting GM products.
After speaking with a representative from Coachworks. It has been confirmed that Coachworks in Florida did 2 3000gt conversions they could not confirm how many stealth conversions they completed.
--93RTTurbo 10:02, 22 January 2007 (EST)
--3000crazy 1:57p, 25 January 2010 (CST)[EDIT]