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Instant Convertible

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In chase scenes, there comes a time when the trailer of a Mack blocks the driver's path. And, there isn't time to avoid a collision. What does one do?

Answer: DUCK.

If the car is low enough and/or the trailer high enough, most of the car will pass under it safely. Except for the roof and windows. The car is perfectly drivable afterward. The driver may even remark, "I've always wanted a convertible." Hence, the name of the trope.

Sometimes, if the car's low enough, it might just fit Under the Truck.

The MythBusters show this trope is Truth in Television: their tow cable-guided test car kept going until it left the test site and crashed into a ravine. A Sub-Trope of Low Clearance.


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  • This insurance ad gives us a runaway BMW passing under a truck and thus being cropped into a convertible.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Durarara!!, Shizuo pulls this off on Horada's car by slicing the top off with a highway sign.
  • Episode 6 (second half) of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt has this happen to See-Through by another vehicle. Chuck didn't duck of course.
  • In Soul Eater Giriko complains the limousine Arachne's Butler arranged to pick them up with after she was resurrected was too cramped and invoked this trope while it was still stationary. Being an Ax-Crazy guy with the ability to turn into a chainsaw does that.

    Comic Books 
  • Played often for laughs in Mortadelo y Filemón, where a random driver may wish to have a convertible instead of his tin can... and get his wish fulfilled thanks to them, but certainly not as he expected.

    Film — Animated 
  • Happens to Cruella de Vil's car at the end of 101 Dalmatians, while she is chasing the moving van the titular dogs were traveling in. Her car was already a convertible, though the top was up at the time.
  • Done in The Bad Guys (2022) by Shark to Wolf's car during the armored truck chase when he throws Piranha at the trucks by tearing off the roof. Wolf is less than amused by this.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the 1987 film Cyclone the scene is shown four times in rapid succession. Watch here.
  • Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez: One of the earliest known examples on film was done by Sister Clotilde with a wooden barrier, during one of her Drives Like Crazy moments. It's only part of the complete trashing she proceeds to inflict on her poor 2CV.
  • James Bond
    • 007 shears the top off a doubledecker bus by going under a low bridge in Live and Let Die.
    • This is one of many mishaps that happens to Bond's Renault in A View to a Kill, as seen in the page image.
  • In Jurassic Park, a small version of this happens to the Jeep when Muldoon, Sattler, and Malcolm are fleeing from the T. rex and hit a tree limb that has fallen across the road. The Jeep was already a convertible and had the roll bars and roof removed, but the branch still breaks the windshield off and would have decapitated everybody if they didn't duck to avoid it.
  • Happens to an Opel Admiral driven by a henchman through a crossing bar, during the chase scene in 1972's The Master Touch.
  • In The Mummy Returns, the heroes have to hijack a double-decker London bus in order to escape from some of Imhotep's undead minions. It's pretty much inevitable that they'll drive under a low bridge and scrape off the bus's upper deck in the process.
  • A particularly comedic example occurs in The Naked Gun when the car in question broadsides into a tanker truck, provoking a large explosion. When it emerges from the other side of the conflagration, the top of the burning vehicle is indeed sheared off, and the unfortunate driver is sprawled on the hood, still holding the severed steering wheel. Things only get worse for him after that.
  • Happens to a police car in the live-action Disney comedy No Deposit, No Return.
  • Averted in Red 2 when the protagonists are driving a Lotus Exige S with such a low profile they can literally drive sideways under a truck, coming out behind the vehicle that's chasing them.
  • The long chase scene in The Seven-Ups ends with one of these. Only the front half of Roy Scheider's car gets sliced off, though.
  • In Smokey and the Bandit, Sheriff Buford T. Justice has this happen to him when he can't avoid a truck carrying a concrete I-beam. He continues to drive the roofless police cruiser at high speed across several states for the rest of the movie, in varying states of disassembly.
    Junior: Daddy, the top came off.
    Buford: No shit.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), during the highway chase, a tiny Robotnik drone cuts off the top of Tom's truck with a laser cutter.
    Sonic: Aww, this one is cute. Let's keep him! [tiny robot activates its laser cutter, and begins burning its way around the top of the car] WHOA!
    Tom: OH, COME ON!
    Sonic: How can something so adorable be so terrible?! ...You've got car insurance, right?
  • The 1996 movie The Sweeper has this when the main character's Ford Crown Victoria drives under the trailer of a gasoline tanker, prompting an obvious "convertible" remark from him after driving under it.
  • Terminator
    • Terminator 2: Judgment Day: As the T-1000 pursues John Connor down the L.A. River basin in a stolen tow truck, at one point they come across a bridge with very low clearance. The bridge ends up shearing the roof off the tow truck's cab, though the T-1000 is able to duck in time.
    • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines does this with a hearse, badly damaging the T-X actively trying to cut through the roof in the process.
  • In The Toxic Avenger Part II, during the final chase scene Toxi's cab driver is unable to avoid this fate. After a moment of silence, everyone in the cab freaks out and when the driver starts ranting about how his cab's been ruined, Toxi tells him to chill out 'cause he now has a convertible and hands him a pair of sunglasses (and he does!). Oddly enough, the little Jesus statue in the back is unharmed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Alarm für Cobra 11: At the beginning of the "Die Braut" episode, a drowsy driver crashes his truck in front of Semir's car and he is unable to stop before the impact of the trailer rips off the roof.
    Semir: My Car!
    Ben: You always wanted a convertible.
  • Averted in the Bugs episode "All Under Control". The villain attempts to drive under a truck, only for the car to come to a complete stop.
  • The Mythbusters clip mentioned above begins with footage from the CHiPs episode "MAIT Team".
  • Doom Patrol (2019): An accident of this nature kills Cliff’s wife and results in him becoming a Brain in a Jar. His daughter is the only survivor.
  • It happens to Roscoe's cruiser in a few episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard.
  • The opening credits of The Fall Guy included a shot of Colt Seavers (Lee Majors) driving a car as it skids under a truck trailer and loses its roof.
  • This happens in the Miami Vice episode "Stone's War" to a car driven by the CIA which is chasing Crockett and Stone.
  • This happens in the final episode of Perfect Strangers.
  • It happens in Top Gear with a Citroen sedan driven by The Stig as part of a test on vehicle height in sports cars (it failed).
  • Mr. Lahey's car in Trailer Park Boys loses its roof in a Noodle Incident between seasons, chalked up to Mr. Lahey's drunk driving (the roof was actually destroyed during filming of The Movie). The roof of his police cruiser is also torn off after he's reinstated to the police department.

    Music Videos 
  • Happens to the girl's car in the music video for Twisted Sister cover of "Leader of the Pack".

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Authority", the Watterson family car gets its hood torn off when Richard drives it under a semi-truck. The same thing happens in "The Name", this time because Gumball's Split Personality Zach cut the brakes.
  • In the American Dad! episode "Dungeons and Wagons", when Stan, Francine, and Roger are fleeing the street racing kidnappers, Roger dumps everything to reduce the car's weight leading to one of the kidnappers driving under the tanker truck and becoming a convertible.
  • In one episode of Extreme Ghostbusters, the gang is being chased by the metal-eating Jersey Devil, who blasts the roof of Roland's car. Eduardo then makes the comment.
  • Slight variation in an episode of Garfield and Friends when Jon drives under a truck and Garfield makes the comment. And to make it worse, the episode closes with rain (though Garfield and Odie have an umbrella to cover themselves).
  • Happened in an episode of Megas XLR when Coop was taking a driving test at the DMV.
  • Variation in X-Men: The Animated Series, when Cyclops pisses off Wolverine.
    Wolverine: Tell Cyclops I made him a convertible.

    Real Life 
  • The Double-Decker Bus vs Low Bridge variant happens frequently in Britain, and occasionally with low-hanging tree branches. One such bus had its roof sliced off near Parliament; even the magic of Harry Potter (advertised on the bus) did not save it.
  • The Norfolk Southern–Gregson Street Overpass in Durham, North Carolina. This was a railroad bridge you're more likely to know of by its alternate nickname, the 11 foot 8 Bridge, owing to its (initially) low vertical clearance of 11 feet 8 inches (3.56 m). Raising this bridge was difficult, because nearby grade crossings would also have to be raised, and the street cannot be lowered as a major sewer line runs right under it. Despite the obvious yellow warning signs and lights, there's always at least one overheight truck per month that ends up getting its roof sheared off in spectacular fashion. Jürgen Henn, who runs a nearby office, mounted two video cameras to record the crashes and post every instance of this to YouTube. The frequency of overheight trucks trying to go under the bridge much so that the locals have nicknamed it the "Can Opener Bridge" and gained it international attention. There is even a website dedicated to hosting the videos of these crashes, guaranteeing that these unlucky drivers will never forget. Near the end of 2019, they were finally able to raise it eight inches, so technically "the 11 foot 8 Bridge" is now a misnomer... but overheight trucks still continue to lose chunks of roof to it.
    • Similar "can-openers" exist in Westwood, Massachusetts; South Melbourne, Australia; Victoria, British Columbia; and Saint Petersburg, Russia that see the occasional truck getting sandwiched or having its roof sheared off despite the signs urging drivers to take a detour.
  • While a teenager, future actor Richard Harris was delivering a massive haulage truck to Dublin. Being somewhat drunk, he tried to drive under a low bridge in the belief that he could get through if he drove quickly enough. He then unsuccessfully tried to convince a policeman that the bridge was on the back of his truck because he was delivering it to Limerick.
  • In April 2018, a truck carrying a Range Rover Velar was passing under a bridge when the Velar's roof was ripped off. News sources jokingly stated that the truck driver accidentally created the Range Rover Velar Convertible.
  • Austrian Heinz Meixner smuggled his German bride Margarete Thurau (along with her mother) from East Berlin that way. He modified the rented car so that its windshield (the car was a convertible already) would easily detach, and let some air from the tires to make the car even lower. Then he simply drove under the checkpoint bar. Although, according to some accounts, he did remove the windshield himself just before it would collide with the bar by punching it. After this trick was repeated by some other escapees, East Germans modified their checkpoints, adding vertical bars under the checkpoint bar and making the path after the checkpoint zigzagged.
  • With modern monocoque cars, a collision of this nature will fatally compromise the structural integrity of the vehicle unlike the older "body on chassis" construction, so the car is likely to be utterly undriveable immediately following an accident of this type.


Video Example(s):


The Toxic Avenger Part II

What was once a cab is now an instant convertible.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / InstantConvertible

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