Saturday, November 1, 2014

I miss it and I want it now especially in the season called Fall. Hmnnn to be able to take the top off, slide it in the back, feel the gentle breeze surround it and put the heat on. Yessss  I am talking about the convertible car. Most people if they can, like to drive one in the summer but I like the Fall better. It is just too hot in summer. With a nice sweater on and the heat on your legs you get the benefit of fresh air all around you, great views but still warm and toasty legs. Not to mention the sex appeal of a convertible.
I remember that old movie with the handsome Cary Grant and Grace Kelly driving in a cool 2 seat convertible along the winding mountain roads of the Riviera in the movie To Catch A Thief. Now we can try to perhaps relive the experience by driving a Mustang convertible but where? Most of our romantic roadways have been turned into super highways where people can drive 80 miles per hour with no problem. You don’t want to drive that fast in a convertible. Not good for your ears, hair or skin. You would need the masks and goggles they wore in the turn of the century .

Back then the convertible car was less glamorous. In fact they would charge you more money to put a hard roof on the car. The earliest cars were all convertibles. The Model T by Ford was mostly driven with the top off.  It had to be fun though since you couldn’t go any faster than 40 miles per hour on any roads then. Matt Anderson is the Curator of Transportation at  the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan and he says that everything turned around in car history. In the beginning you couldn’t afford to pay for a top on the car. As there was upward mobility and people could afford it, more cars had tops on them. Now you have to be rich to be able to afford a topless car.

By 1936 the open top car accounted for less than 1% per cent of automobile sales. There are still wealthy drivers who could afford the large six seat convertible luxury car. They were big cars with 8 or 12 cylinder engines.  The convertible was still useful for politicians like FDR who toured around in a Lincoln Convertible.  We all know what happened to John F. Kennedy in his convertible. By the end of World War II we start seeing more fun cars and by 1950  every American car maker had a convertible. There were 33 models in all to chose from.

From 1962 to 1966 the convertible accounted for 6% of all car sales But by the 1970’s convertibles were out of style. Matt Anderson said it was for three reasons, safety, security and the faster pace of life. At 70 miles per hour on the highway it became a hurricane on your head. Now only a small number of convertibles are sold each year.  I don’t think the open top car will ever really die because there will always be someone who likes to drive for fun. I admit it , I am a man going through a mid-life crisis. Give me that topless fun machine.

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