In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin's breast;

In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;

In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish'd dove;

In the Spring a young man's fancy is a convertible to love.

I was driving from New York to Washington in this new Toyota Solara convertible. Lovely car, V-6 power, comfortable, terrific audio, tight, no rattling or wind leaks, $31,645 on the sticker. When you are driving a convertible on a sunny day with a pretty woman at your side (wife Kate), all is right with the world.

And then I began thinking. Toyota is making this modern convertible up in Canada. They won't sell many, but they do it anyway. But General Motors, the largest carmaker in the world, doesn't have a modern convertible here. Yes, there's the Corvette 2-seat roadster, and GM still makes a few of those dated Camaro/Firebird convertibles, but that whole line is to be killed. And GM killed off its Cavalier/Sunfire convertibles in January.


Chrysler makes the Sebring - 51,750 sold in the U.S. alone last year - most popular convertible in the world, and a profit-maker for sure. Ford's got the Mustang convertible, 40,000 last year. Volkswagen makes a convertible, as do Mercedes, BMW, Volvo, Saab and Renault. Lexus will have a beauty next spring.

But GM really doesn't have a real convertible except that old Camaro-Firebird.

I suppose someone will say they aren't worth the trouble; they don't make money.

First, I believe that Chrysler and Ford make money with those convertibles. And I think Mercedes and BMW with those $50,000 price stickers make money on theirs, too. But there's the other point.

People look at convertibles. They walk around them. They think how much fun it would be to own one. They think cars. Maybe they end up buying a Taurus or a Camry or a Chrysler Concorde, but they started the process thinking about that convertible. That's why car companies build them. They are good for business.

Do I have to tell GM this? Isn't there someone at the top of the company who knows what a convertible does? OK, none of the top executives of GM knows much about the American car business.

But Don Hackworth does. Don's the manufacturing boss, and he's done about everything at GM. Don could explain it to them.

OK, Don Hackworth probably hates convertibles. Why? All man-ufacturing men hate convertibles because they are a pain in the neck on the line. But Don knows GM should have some. Tell them, Don, even if they are a pain in the neck to build. It is your duty!

They might tell you about the Buick Cielo, which GM says is a convertible that it might build. Forget about it. The Cielo has side rails, and the metal roof slides up and down those side rails. For gosh sakes fellas, that's like the 1951 Nash Rambler convertible, which was no success. A convertible doesn't have that open feeling unless it's open. The Cielo isn't a convertible. It's a car with a big sunroof.

Why do I have to tell them this?

Sure, GM will say they've got so much catching up to do that they don't have time right now.

Please! We've been hearing this for more than a decade. GM's idea of catching up is the Malibu.

And one more thing, Don. There's no one at GM who knows how to design or engineer a convertible. Hire someone from Mercedes or BMW. Get it done right.

Why am I spending an entire column on this? It's a little thing, but little things make the difference in this business.

One more thing. My son Douglas who runs a repair shop in Alexandria tells me about a lady in a Suburban that backed into somebody because she couldn't see through her rear windows: no washers and wipers, and it's a long way back.

Right. Those big Suburbans, Tahoes, even $55,000 Escalades with cargo doors (that open sideways) don't have window washer/wipers. The vehicles with lift gates have them, but not those with cargo doors.

Why? GM folks give me lots of answers.

1. We're still looking for the best way (like for five years), because the wipers could go anywhere around those square windows.

2. We haven't had any demand. Please! Demand is the boss saying, "Do it!"

3. We're cheap. We would need two washer/wipers, one for each cargo door. Costs more. Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life!

Why wait until Rick Wagoner's wife backs her Cadillac Escalade into her neighbor's Porsche because she couldn't see out the dirty rear window. Yes, I've made this accident up, but I wouldn't want to work for Truck Engineering if it happened.

No more Mr. Nice Guy.