CBS News recently aired a segment titled “The up-and-down history of the convertible” — which provides a fantastic overview of how and why convertible tops have teetered back and forth between being immensely popular and not very popular at all.
Below is an excerpt from the clip
Matt Anderson, curator of transportation at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., says the convertible has had more ups and downs than the car’s top on a partly cloudy day.
“In the beginning open cars are about affordability,” said Anderson. “But you start to see things change as enclosed cars get mass-produced and become more affordable. And then the convertibles become more the domain of the rich. So everything kind of turns around 180.”
By 1936, the open-top car accounted for less than one percent of automobile sales. By then, the convertible was essentially dead. “Dead or on the way out,” said Anderson. “There’s still wealthy drivers who could afford to get whatever they want.” […]
The next shift in the popularity of the convertible came when many young Americans went to Europe during World War II.
“They see in England and France and other countries these little roadster cars with soft convertible tops,” said Anderson. “They’re cars just for fun.”
In fact, by 1950, every American car maker had a convertible in its lineup — 33 models in all.
Nowadays, only a tiny number of convertibles are sold in the U.S. annually.
To read more, or watch the video itself, click on the image below…