“Convertible cars are often seen as a status symbol, owned by fun-loving, adventurous people who motor down the road, top back, the wind blowing through their hair…”–Paul Ebeling
…but most people do not know the beginnings of these iconic rides.
Convertibles were the 1st roadworthy cars essentially self-propelled former horse carriages without an enclosed seating area. The tops of these vehicles, if they had one, were removable.
With the introduction of mass-produced steel bodies in the 1920s, the industry’s 1st retractable top came in Y 1922. However, it would be another 5 yrs before people had the option to retract their top as the !st concept convertible, a Hudson coupe, never made it to production.
As the yrs went on, hardtops became more practical and considered the luxury option. However, after the WWII returning soldiers wanted cars similar to those they saw overseas. This desire would drive convertibles to become a trend again. That continued until hardtops reclaimed the Top spot thanks to sunroofs and air conditioning.
The last popular convertible was the 1976 Cadillac Eldorado. After it too went hardtop, Americans had to import their convertibles as domestic manufacturers stopped producing them, fearing the government would ban them over safety issues.
This halt in traditional convertible production led to the emergence of T-tops, a popular alternative for an open-air experience. However, these required more work to remove and store in the trunk. Not only did this take time and space, but they had an issue with leaking.
Conversely, convertibles, which saw a resurgence in the early 1980s, offered power-retractible tops, allowing people to convert to an open-air experience at the press of a button. This technology has helped them remain a staple in the automotive industry to this day.
The Big Q: Would you drive a convertible?
The Big A: Me, my 1st car was a 1949 Ford Deluxe convert. I have driven them since…especially Ferrari.
Have a super weekend, Keep the Faith!