We may not even have a library photo of a hard-top convertible-cabriolet.
We do, above. There are not many more. Maybe they are not a DTW type of car. Dear goodness, I find when checking the date of the Mercedes SLK, the R170, that it’s celebrating its 20th anniversary. It seems natural to start with this one.
That car bridges Sacco, being a bit of Gunak and a bit of Mauer. More importantly it started a long wave of convertible coupes that had the best of a hard-top and the best of a convertible. The idea dates to Peugeot’s 1931 601 Eclipse. However, little happened to the idea other than the short-lived Ford Skyliner (57-59) and the half-hearted Toyota Soarer Aerocabin (1989).
Mercedes’ genius lay in packing all the bits really neatly and styling the car to hide the bulky mechanism. That the boot was almost entirely taken up with roof when in open-mode didn’t matter. This truly was a car for lunching ladies and their tennis coaches.
The idea extended to the mass market with Ford’s Italianate Focus CC of 2006-2010 which is as Ghia as Ford got in recent times although it wore Pininfarina labels. In the same year Opel presented the Astra Twin Top (which looked sleeker). Peugeot got in first in 2001: the 206 CC which probably showed the limits of styling to hide bulk.
After that burst of mainstream interest the CC retired to larger, more expensive cars though a few stragglers hung on (Peugeot, Renault and VW).
Inherently the folding mechanism added weight and stole boot space. Long, powerful cars could carry it off whereas four-bangers on family car platforms did not. Customers decided cloth tops were a better balance of fun and sun and for the Cascada Opel has gone back to fabric.
Fashion has led customers away from cabrios so it makes little sense to have a sub-niche but the idea is now tested and where appropriate will crop up again periodically. And I wonder if the Evoque ought to have been one rather than a soft-top.
My pick of the bunch is the Daihatsu Copen, even if it is tinier than the CC concept should support.