Skip to main content

Do you remember the Honda Del Sol from mid 90s? It was that little Honda coupe that looked like a cross between an El Camino and Mazda Miata. It had a weird doorstop-like shape, a two-seat configuration, and the best part about it was that it also had a removable Targa top. Although, for the Del Sols that we had in the U.S., you had to remove the roof by hand and store it in the trunk. But in the Japanese and European markets, the roof was removed via an automatic mechanism called the “TransTop.”

The Honda Del Sol’s TransTop is simple, yet complex

The “TransTop” that you can find on the Japanese Honda Del Sol is one of the most complex mechanisms that you’ll see on a car, but its purpose is so simple. The trunk of the car raises up to the height of the roof and then two arms come out of the trunk top like a forklift and insert into the roof. Then the arms retract the roof into the trunk lid, which then lowers back onto the trunk area. For a nice visual aid, check out the video below:

It’s weird, it’s complicated, and technically, it’s too complex of a mechanism for an otherwise simple purpose. It’s no wonder that the U.S. market didn’t  adopt it for the Del Sol that we got here, it probably would have cost a lot to manufacture all of those parts. Instead, we got the manual version where you have to remove the top manually and then store it in the trunk area via a tray that it attaches it to. It’s still a clever concept. But it’s nowhere near the “cool” factor of the TransTop.

When did Honda stop making the Del Sol?

In the U.S., Honda stopped making the Del Sol in 1997. It originally debuted for the 1992 model year as a replacement for the popular Honda CR-X, but it didn’t quite see the same success. Aside from its quirky looks and features, the Del Sol was also prone to quality issues regarding the Targa top. Many owners complained about excessive leaks and noise in addition to faulty auxiliary lighting. Ultimately, Honda only sold 5,603 Del Sols by the end of 1997.

1992 Honda Del Sol side shot
1992 Honda Del Sol | Bring a Trailer

Is the Honda Del Sol a collectible?

For those that are really into 90s Hondas, yes, the Del Sol can be considered a collectible, although, there isn’t a huge market for them. However, there were three different engine choices for the Del Sol during its production life: a 1.5-liter non-VTEC engine, a 1.6-liter SOHC VTEC engine, and a 1.6-liter DOHC VTEC engine.

The latter engine came in the highest-trim Del Sol VTEC model, which is currently the most sought after. But good luck finding a clean example of one now, as the Del Sol is now over 25 years old and many of them were most likely crashed or stolen over the past couple of decades.


Forgotten Fun Targa-Top Cars That Are Affordable Now