WHO INVENTED THE CONVERTIBLE?

The earliest automobiles were modeled after horse-drawn buggies. They had open tops (and no windshields or doors). The first automobile design featuring a closed top was introduced in 1910. Vinyl or cloth roofs were typical in the 1920s, with steel mostly replacing the fabric roofs in the 1930s as automotive manufacturers worked to make cars sturdier and safer.

But people missed the open-roof feeling of those early cars. The first manual retractable hardtop convertible was invented in 1922, although that design was never actually produced. In 1927, manufacturers like Buick, Cadillac, Lincoln, and Chrysler brought multiple convertible models to the eager American public. The first power-operated retractable hardtop came out in 1934. And the American love affair with the convertible was underway.

Convertibles in California Culture

Convertibles hold a special place in American culture, especially in California. Convertibles are glamorous, driven by movie spies and Hollywood superstars alike. Advertisers use the image of the convertible to sell freedom, glamour, speed, and sex appeal.

Everyone remembers the iconic driving shots in the 1967 movie The Graduate: Lovesick Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), in his 1966 Alfa Romeo Spider 1600 Duetto, speeding over the winding roads from Pasadena to Berkeley. Or the titular characters in Thelma and Louise (1991) in their 1966 Ford Thunderbird Convertible.

Convertibles remind us of the open road, sunshine, beaches, and adventure. Convertibles, with their aura of freedom and glamour, are the perfect vehicles for California. No wonder California is one of the top five American states (along with New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Texas) for owning convertibles.

Modern convertibles can be status symbols, like those designed by Bentley, Aston Martin, or Mercedes. People who want better gas mileage and more accessible parking might drive a FIAT 124 Spider Classica or a MINI convertible Cooper. Modern convertibles can be hard-top or soft-top, affordable or luxurious, manual or automatic. Luxury features can include automated climate control and heated seats, keyless ignition, even built-in wind deflectors. Cars had come a long way since those early days when they didn’t also have windshields!

Not every California driver dreams of owning a convertible, of course. But whatever type of vehicle you own, make sure it stays in tip-top shape by scheduling a service with The Auto Experts. We care dearly for each and every customer, so let us take care of your vehicles. Proudly serving downtown Sacramento, Midtown, and East Sacramento, you can find us at 505 30th Street. See you soon!

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