Classic Convertible Cars

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:

1930 Oldsmobile F-301933 Ford Cabriolet1934 Pierce-Arrow Salon Twelve1938 Oldsmobile L-38
1939 Cadillac Series 901941 Lincoln Continental1941 Packard One Twenty
1942 Dodge Custom1946 Hudson Super Six Brougham1947 Cadillac Series 62
1947 Chrysler Town & Country1948 Buick Roadmaster1949 Cadillac Series 62
1949 Frazer Manhattan1950 Oldsmobile 881951 Chrysler New Yorker
1951 Lincoln Cosmopolitan1951 Rambler Custom Landau1953 Oldsmobile Fiesta
1954 Hudson Hornet Brougham1954 Packard Caribbean1955 Buick Century
1955 Cadillac Series 621955 Chevrolet Bel Air1955 Mercury Montclair
1956 Ford Thunderbird1956 Lincoln Premiere1956 Packard Caribbean
1957 Chevrolet Bel Air1957 Chrysler New Yorker1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner
1957 Lincoln Premiere1957 Oldsmobile Super 881958 Continental Mark III
1958 Edsel Citation1959 Cadillac Series 621959 Dodge Custom Royal
1959 Ford Thunderbird1959 Pontiac Bonneville1960 Dodge Polara
1960 Edsel Ranger1961 Ford Galaxie Sunliner1962 Dodge Polara 500
1963 Chevrolet Impala1963 Ford Falcon Futura1963 Plymouth Sport Fury
1963 Studebaker Lark Daytona1965 Chrysler 300L
1965 Rambler American 440
1966 Chevrolet Corvair Monza1968 Mercury Park Lane1969 Shelby GT-500
1973 Buick Centurion1973 Mercury Cougar XR-71975 Chevrolet Caprice Classic
1975 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale1975 Pontiac Grand Ville1976 Cadillac Eldorado
1983 Buick Riviera1988 Chrysler LeBaron GTC1990 Buick Reatta
1996 Chrysler Sebring JXi1998 Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car Replica1999 Pontiac Trans Am 30th Anniversary Special Edition
2000 Panoz Esperante2000 Plymouth Prowler2002 35th Anniversary Chevrolet Camaro SS
2003 Dodge Viper
2004 Cadillac XRL

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.

Classic Convertibles Image Gallery

Learn more about the 1969 Plymouth Road Runner and other classic convertibles.
Learn about the 1969 Plymouth Road Runner and other classic convertibles.
See more pictures of classic convertibles.

Advertising has long played on that promise. In a convertible, after all, you can be exposed not only to the elements, but the public gaze, ready to see and be seen come what may. Glamorous Hollywood stars drive convertibles, presidents parade in them, college homecoming queens ride down Main Street in them. It's exhilarating to be so "accessible," and ads still drive home the point that driving a convertible is the next best thing to being a celebrity yourself, an instant ticket to admiration, even romance.

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: