Convertible (sometimes called cabriolet in British
English) is a car body style with a folding or retracting
roof. The collapsible roof section is typically made from
flexible canvas or vinyl, although plastic, aluminum and
steel have occasionally been used in elaborate folding
When the top is made of a rigid material such as steel it is
often referred to as a "retractable hardtop" instead of a
Unlike a roadster, which may also have a soft folding top, a
convertible has roll-up glass windows in the sides, and so
the entire vehicle is "convertible" to an enclosed
Convertibles are usually 2 door models, only a few 4 door
models exist e.g. the 1960s Lincoln Continental.
In Europe this body style is frequently called cabriolet or
cabrio. When the model has a rigid folding top, the body
style is called Coupé Cabriolet ("CC") or coupé convertible.
In the vintage car era, the convertible was the default body
style. It was not until 1910 that Cadillac introduced the
first closed-body car. A combination of weak engines and
public expectation that a car was analogous to a wagon meant
that steel roofs were not in demand until then.
Later, convertibles were made less often, possibly due in
part to an unfulfilled threat made in the mid-1970s by the
United States government to increase rollover safety
requirements that may have made auto manufacturers hesitant
to manufacture cars that would be unsaleable under those new
By the 1970s they had almost disappeared and in 1976 the
Cadillac Eldorado was advertised as "The last convertible in
America". During this period of very low convertible
production, T-tops became a popular alternative to
convertibles, especially in muscle cars.
It was not until the 1980s and cars like the Chrysler
LeBaron and Saab 900 convertibles that the body style made a
Also in the 1980s, small sporty family cars such as the
Escort xr3i and Golf gti were selling a high amount of
cabriolets, and in the 1990s, the Mazda MX-5 again cemented
the convertible as the sports car body style of choice.
Today, there are scores of convertible cars offered by
nearly every manufacturer.
Above text from wikipedia.org This text is available under GPL.