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AMG Mercedes-Benz GT c wins SAMA's 9th Annual "Topless in Miami" +VIDEO

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Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster wins top honors at annual convertible competition

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (May 23) — Sporting a 550-horsepower biturbo V8 engine and a top that opens or closes at speeds up to 31 mph, the 2019 Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadsterearned top honors Thursday at the annual Topless in Miami Presented by Haartz convertible competition conducted by the Southern Automotive Media Association (SAMA).

It is the third time in nine years that a Mercedes-Benz model has earned top honors in the annual competition, joining the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster (2012) and Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG (2016).

The AMG GT C was one of six class winners in the event headquartered at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne Resort. It also was recognized as the winner in the Luxury Class.

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Other class wins went to the 2019 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS (Sporty), 2019 Rolls-Royce Dawn Black Badge (Exotic) and 2019 Mazda MX-5RF (Compact).

The competition also included vehicles that offer occupants an “open air” driving and riding experience via the new, popular sun- and moonroof found on many cars, SUVs, and crossovers on the market, with the 2019 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio selected as the top Panoramic Utility Vehicle and the 2019 Genesis G70 the No. 1 Panoramic Car.

Jeep’s new 2020 Gladiator Rubicon 4X4 was recognized the Pickup Truck Class winner.

“Over 40 members spent the day behind the wheel of 19 vehicles to determine the best ofthe best convertibles on the market today,” SAMA President Paul Borden said. “Vehicleswere scored on their overall styling, performance, and top and general appeal to the South Florida community.

”The Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster carries a base MSRP of $158,850 with standard features such as an AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7-speed automatic transmission, a carbon-fiber composite driveshaft, AMG Adaptive Sport suspension, AMG High-Performance Compound braking system, AMG Performance exhaust, AMG Dynamic Select with RaceMode, AMG Performance seats and Performance steering wheel, power-retractable soft top, and numerous safety features that include Driver Attention Assist and Adaptive Brake Technology.

Other vehicles in the competition were the Maserati Grand Turmismo convertible, BMW 850i convertible, Ford Mustang GT convertible, the Mini Cooper Florida Edition convertible, Volkswagen Beetle Final Edition convertible, Acura RDX, Honda Pilot Elite, Hyundai Kona, Kia Telluride, Nissan Murano, Nissan Maxima, and the Volkswagen Jetta GLI.

“The 2019 Topless in Miami was another great display of the variety of open-air models in the industry,” said Doug Haartz, international sales manager at the Haartz Corporation.“The array of materials topping these vehicles is a true showcase of our product offering. This is a great event year after year that we are proud to support.

”Convertibles from the competition will be featured in a special exhibit at the annual Miami International Auto Show Nov. 1-10 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

The Haartz Corporation (Haartz) is a world leader in highly engineered and uniquely designed convertible toppings and interior surface materials. The company’s world headquarters and North American manufacturing operations are located in Acton, Massachusetts, with additional manufacturing in Mannheim, Germany and Pune, India. Beyond these manufacturing locations, Haartz maintains offices in Detroit, Munich, Tokyo, Irapuato, Mexico, Shanghai and Chongqing, China. Employing over 400 people worldwide, Haartz has been a trusted automotive supplier since 1907, and continues to beprivately owned and operated by the Haartz family. For more information, visit . Join the conversation on Twitter, @Haartz.

SAMA is an organization of automotive journalists, representatives of media organizations, corporate communications specialists, marketing and advertising representatives, and auto manufacturers related to South Florida’s dynamic automotive industry. Based in Miami, it was formed in March 2007 and has grown to include more than 140 members from around the South and country. For more information, visit its website

By Len Ingrassia Automotive columnist

This year's Topless in Miami event included a “dressed to the nines” gala dinner and awards banquet and, coincidentally, was all about 19 cars hitting the pavement at 9 a.m. with temps in the 90s to mark our 9th annual competition to select winners.

Topless attendees were welcomed by President Paul Borden during a pre-event briefing with remarks by Doug Haartz, International Sales Manager for Topless title sponsor Haartz Corporation.

In operation for more than a century, Haartz is the leading global supplier of automotive topping fabrics with a wide range of constructions and designs. It has grown to serve widening market needs with manufacturing facilities in Mexico, Germany, India, China and Japan with corporate headquarters and manufacturing in Acton, MA.

Their outreach extends to automotive interior trim, Cure In Place Pipe (CIPP) rehabilitation, soft-sided luggage and handbag applications as well as rubber coated fabrics for applications as diverse as machine gear belts and non-destructive pipeline testing. This is the fifth year they have been the title sponsor for Topless.

Judging rules were tweaked this year to aid in scoring categories including Styling, Performance, Top (convertibles) and Panoramic.

Following a continental breakfast, journalists, bloggers, videographers and social media experts got underway with test drives around the picturesque village of Key Biscayne, home to two large tropical parks and fashionable boutiques.

It turned out to be a race for the participants too — reviewing the assembled carsin the time allotted. Seven hours later the mission was accomplished and judges began the tallying process. The Prestige team carried out the logistics of moving cars through the makeshift pit area keeping wheels turning throughout the event.

Preparation for the days' events started well before dawn with Prestige and DriveShop personnel readying their respective auto lineups for the day.

The association and its members owe a big thank you to fleet personnel and staff for making Topless a big success again. Kudos to Nissan, breakfast sponsor; Mazda, lunch underwriter; Genesis, cocktail reception and Jeep, Alfa Romeo (FCA) and Hyundai as dinner sponsors.