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Hardtop Convertibles:

Hardtop Convertibles

Hardtop convertible cars became increasingly popular as motor manufacturers strived to make their vehicles more appealing. The market has now matured and designs have improved. Watching what was apparently a fixed roof fold away out of sight is certainly a crowd pleaser and the conventional security of a solid roof has many advantages.

The earliest production car with a folding hard roof dates all the way back to the 1935 Peugot 402 Eclipse Decapotable. Since this time many manufacturers have made attempts to make their own designs a commercial success. The first really popular modern convertible car to feature a retractable folding roof and start the current trend was the 1996 Mercedes-Benz SLK Roadster. The Mercedes SLK sold well and encouraged a whole new set of customers to consider driving a convertible.

The benefits of a folding hardtop convertible roof are both perceived and actual improvements in safety and security as well as improved sound and weather proofing. On the down-side the roof usually adds weight, needs extra storage space and when folded can considerably reduce the luggage compartment. Despite assumptions that a hard roof should be more weather-proof, the seals on these cars appear to be equally as prone to water leaks as those of fabric roofs. That said, a well maintained modern roof of either type shouldn’t cause any problems.

Several major manufacturers (such as Audi and Porsche) have yet to venture into retractable hardtop convertibles and instead focus on making their best drop-tops with high quality fabric soft-top roofs while enjoying the benefit of their light weight and easy stowing. On the other hand, brands such as Mazda, Mercedes and even Ferrari and McLaren have managed to prove that the benefits of hardtop convertible cars can be successfully combined with great style and high performance. The number of hardtop convertible cars is currently in decline particularly at the lower end of the market.

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