Convertibles aren't as numerous as they used to be, but they still exert a timeless magic. Though difficult to define, the appeal of a classic convertible is part environmental, part visual, and part fantasy.
For example, sunroof sedans and T-top coupes may let in breezes, but they're still essentially closed body types. In a convertible, you can be virtually one with nature, feeling the wind in your hair, the sun on your face, or the coolness of a shady lane while viewing the passing scene with no obstructions except a couple of windshield posts.
The following links will take you to picture-packed profiles of 70 classic convertibles. You'll find about the history behind each car, see engine information, and get production details. Here are the convertibles we profile:
In a convertible, you can raise the top and roll up the windows. By the way, it's those two features that distinguish a convertible from a roadster, which typically has clip-in side curtains and a top not permanently attached to the body.
Which brings us to aesthetics. Somehow, top-down car almost always looks prettier than a counterpart sedan or even a coupe. Maybe it's the "lighter" look that results in not having a roof. Or perhaps it's the promise of adventure that comes from lowering the top and throwing caution to the wind.
Learn about the 1969 Plymouth Road Runner and other classic convertibles.
See more pictures of classic convertibles.
Image notwithstanding, the convertible story is pretty much the story of the automobile itself. Indeed, the earliest "horseless carriages" were mostly convertibles, built like open horse-drawn buggies with bodies compromising a wooden frame-work covered in fabric or leather.
That was enough for a time when cars were expensive playthings and too cranky for trips longer than a Sunday drive. But cars were fast made reliable and cheap enough to become daily transport for millions, and buyers began demanding studier bodies with "all season" comfort. Thus the rapid rise of steel construction and the popularity of closed body styles in the 1920s. By World War II, convertibles were no longer significant to the auto business, a situation that prevails today.
Still, "ragtops," were not forgotten, becoming more practical thanks to steady engineering improvements. Tops, for example, are not only more durable than they were in the '50s, but seal much better too. Many even have heated glass rear windows instead of flimsy plastic that always turned cloudy. Power tops? Available since the late '40s, though still not universal.
For more information on all kinds of cars, see:
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