In less than 30 seconds the new Cadillac XLR transforms from coupe to a rocket roadster. GM selected the German based Car Top Systems to engineer and produce the retractable hardtop system and it is nothing short of an electro-hydraulic marvel.

The precisely programmed choreography of body panels calls upon eight hydraulic cylinders powered by an electric pump " />

Issue: Sep 2003


Bright Ideas: Retractable Hard Top



2004 Cadillac XLR Retractable Hard Top

by Rob Wilson

In less than 30 seconds the new Cadillac XLR transforms from coupe to a rocket roadster. GM selected the German based Car Top Systems to engineer and produce the retractable hardtop system and it is nothing short of an electro-hydraulic marvel.

The precisely programmed choreography of body panels calls upon eight hydraulic cylinders powered by an electric pump to complete the opening or closing cycle. The opening sequence begins with raising the rear decklid with sturdy scissor arms. Because of the XLR styling, it was impractical to simply hinge the rear of the decklid just above the rear bumper as CTS has done with other systems for other carmakers.

With the decklid raised, the roof top and back window fold back in a clam shell manner into the trunk cavity. The quarter windows then fold inward followed by three separate tonneau panels which function to conceal the entire retraction mechanism and roof related panels.

The XLR is a high profile, high price automobile and all parts have tight tolerances to ensure proper sealing under all weather conditions. And they also must have a class A finish.

Sweating the details on the tonneau panels, for example, a special new ultra violet (UV) sealer is being applied to prevent gassing on the edges of these panels.

The UV processing is done by Meridian Automotive Systems using a coating supplied by Ashland Chemical.

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