I picked up a lot of muscle car “picture books” when I was a teenager—oversize hardcover volumes filled with beautiful studio photographs of Mustangs, Camaros and Chargers, and some captions and blurbs of text.

Randy Leffingwell’s new book Wide-Open Muscle: The Rarest Muscle Car Convertibles technically falls into this genre, too, but stands out for its focus on ragtop factory street rods from the dawn of the Disco Era.

Whereas the books I used to read would cover the basic already-know-them histories of the Corvette, or the Mustang, or whatever particular marque they happened to be about, Leffingwell’s zooming in on a less-explored niche allows for some real education.

Don’t get me wrong, some words are wasted on the birth-of-the-genre scripture that most muscle car enthusiasts have read a thousand times before, but most of it explores what set these roaring roofless machines apart from their coupe cousins.

Leffingwell also runs the numbers, citing engine specs and period HOT ROD Magazine reviews. What he doesn’t do? Very often get into too much detail about the particular examples photographed for the book.

Tom Loeser supplies the undeniably gorgeous full-page full-colour photography for the book, which all feature as subjects cars from the famous anonymous Brothers Collection.


The cars are all factory-appearing, and while reading about production numbers and compression ratios is all well and good, I felt compelled to hear more about the history and details of the Brothers’ ’69 Road Runner convertible specifically, or their ’69 Cougar XR7 ragtop.

As the name suggest, as with other “picture books,” the words are overtaken for space, here, by the photography, so while you can look forward to some details, don’t pick up this volume expecting a convertible-muscle-car encyclopedia.

Wide-Open Muscle: The Rarest Muscle Car Convertibles is available in hardcover format in bookstores and via Amazon.ca.