A targa top is a type of semi-convertible car roof. Originally designed to help race car drivers get in and out of the vehicle quickly, this car body style has a roll bar that runs behind the seats across the width of the car, with the roof section above the driver's head being removable. The removable section may be completely taken off in some older models, but was retractable in later cars. In some models, the rear window may also be removed, creating a more complete convertible style.
This style was first introduced in 1961 on the Triumph TR4, but wasn't known as the targa top until it appeared on the 1966 Porsche 911. The name was chosen after the Targa Florio, a long-distance road race along the coast of Sicily, that Porsche was a part of in 1962. This body style quickly became popular with other race car manufactures, including Ford and Ferrari.
In 1966, the targa top underwent a redesign, with the introduction of a glass roof that was retractable on the Porsche 993 Targa. Earlier models had a removable top section. The new design of car body with the glass roof kept the same side-on profile as previous cars but removed the problem of having to store the top section when removed.
The targa top became popular with consumers in the United States in the 1970s as a safer alternative to the full convertible. Due to the fixed roll bar, this style was less likely to cause serious injury in a roll-over accident. Technological improvements in the convertible style helped make those cars safer, however, but the popularity of the targa top started to decline slowly when the 1989 Mazda MX5 was introduced.
There is a difference between a targa top and a T-top. Although both are semi-convertible car styles, the T-top has a solid non-removable bar between the windshield and the rear roll bar. The 1990s saw the introduction of the glass retractable targa top in the Porsche 993 Targa.
A number of classic cars featured the targa top, including some models of the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird. Although it has declined in production, the targa top is sometimes still produced when the style of a convertible cannot be integrated. It is also possible to use a conversion kit to give a car a targa top, although this can be a complicated process.