Deciding to Go Topless

In one of his many spirited gambles, Lee Iacocca three years ago had the body of a K-car sent from Chrysler's proving grounds near Detroit to a custom auto body shop in California. There the car was rebuilt into a convertible and secretly shipped back East. When Iacocca drove it around Boca Raton, Fla., in the winter of 1981, it won instant admirers. That limited market survey helped convince him that the potential demand for a revived convertible was bigger than anyone imagined.

Though no major American automaker had built a convertible' since 1976,...

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