Thursday, September 3, 2015

Our Favorite Notable Convertibles by Decade: Part One

Source: IMCDb.org
These days, we think of cruising with the top down as a ubiquitous summer tradition. But have you ever considered that at the earliest invent of the motorized vehicle, ALL models were open topped? By the end of the 19th century, many cars offered folding textile or leather roofs (think of “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top”), but the first automobile to be designed with an enclosed hard body did not appear until 1899 with the Renault Type B. With history on our brains, we have decided to take a stroll down convertible memory lane and share some of our favorite convertibles of the 20th century by decade, from the most popular to the most influential and everything in between.

1920s – Ford Model T and T-Buckets

With the invent of the Model T, Henry Ford completely revolutionized the way people get around. Introduced in 1908, it was the first car that was affordable enough to make vehicle ownership a possibility for most Americans. More than 15 million Model Ts were built between 1913 and 1927 in Detroit, as well as around the globe, and came in one classic color – black. Since then, many car enthusiasts have recreated an homage to the Ford Model T with the T-Bucket, a hot-rod car extensively modified and customized from Ford Model T or replica parts.

1930s – Duesenberg Model J Convertible

Built to compete with the most powerful and luxurious cars in the world, the Model J was actually designed in 1928, a time of opulence and excess and, of course, the year before the stock market crash and the start of the Great Depression. Despite material shortages and massive poverty, the Model J actually saw improvements. The first super-charged model became available in 1932, dubbed the SJ, and was reputed to be capable of 104 miles an hour in second gear. These models set the standard for the wealthy in the 1930s. They have become such icons of the time period that in 2007, a Model SJ sold for $4.4 million at auction in California!

Source: Kilbey Classics

1940s – Jeep Wrangler

All right, so this item on our list isn’t exactly a convertible in the classic sense – but the Jeep Wrangler has stood the test of time, seen considerable design and technical improvements over the years and continues to be one of our most popular soft top models! The first off-road Willys Jeeps were made in 1941, with civilian models being introduced in 1945, and remain a symbol of the heroism of World War II.

1950s – Cadillac Eldorado

The 1950s were a time when bigger was better, and though now it is regarded as one of the uglier convertibles of history, the Cadillac Eldorado is the best example of late ‘50s designs. With excess amounts of chrome accents and some of the largest fins ever seen on a vehicle, the iconic design and low production numbers make the 1959 Eldorado the most hunted-after car for collectors.

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