Newport Convertible engineering was first US coach builder which designed, engineered and distributed Chevy Monte Carlo convertible.
Convertibles have offered numerous iterations that fall between the first mechanically simple but attention-demanding fabric tops to highly complex modern retractable hardtops:
Roadster: A roadster was an open two-seater possibly with a frame that required actual assembly (i.e., not retracting) and separately installable soft side “window” panels – offering little protection from inclement weather and often requiring time-consuming apparently complicated installation. Examples range from the very first cars to the vintage Porsche Speedster introduced in 1955, and the classic Jaguar XK120 Roadster unveiled in 1948 right up to the most recent Porsche Spyders. For most in the U.S. a contemporary roadster is now just a two-seater convertible like the Audi TT, the modern classic BMW Z8, and Pontiac Solstice.
Landau & Rigid Door: Citroën’s 1948 Citroën 2CV featured a sunroof that rolled back on itself, and extended to the rear bumper in place of a separate boot/trunk lid. This was for loading versatility that pre-dated hatchbacks. Later models had a boot/trunk lid or an optional hatchback, and an internally opening sunroof, with a secured ‘half-open’ position. It had rigid body sides framing two doors on each side – followed in concept by such cars as the 1950 Nash Rambler Convertible Coupe.
Citroën currently markets the C3 Pluriel (Pluriel is a cognate with the English plural), which can be configured into five iterations, hence the name:
a hatchback with a multi-layer insulated top.
a full-length “landau” sedan, operable partially or to the back window or any stage in between, with a buffet-minimizing wind deflector over the windshield.
a semi-convertible, with the roof open to the back window, the roof assembly folds into a well in the trunk floor.
a full convertible, whereby roof side rails are unlatched and removed.
a roadster pick-up, where the back seats fold to a pickup-like bed with a drop-down tailgate.
The Four-Door: A four-door convertible is a phaeton in the U.S., elsewhere any convertible may be a cabriolet. The Lincoln Continental was available as a 4-door convertible in model years 1961 to 1967. A current example of a 4-door convertible is the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.
Peugeot presented the a concept four-door retractable hardtop convertible, the Peugeot 407 Macarena in 2006. Produced by French coachbuilding specialist Heuliez, the Macarena’s top can be folded in 60 seconds, with a steel reinforcing beam behind the front seats incorporating LCD screens for the rear passengers into the crossmember.
Drophead Coupe, Coupé Cabriolet or Coupé Cabrio: A type of convertible with only two doors, and thereby recalling the cabriolet carriage. With its Mazda RX7 convertible, Mazda introduced a two-seater convertible with a removable rigid section over the passengers, removable independently of power operated textile section behind with heatable glass rear window. During the 1980s, Jaguar produced an XJ-SC with two removable panels over the front seats and a partial fold-down convertible section in the back. It retained the rear side windows of the coupe and had fixed cant rails above these and the door glass. This allowed an almost full convertible with roll-over safety. Going back in Jaguar history, during the 1950s the XK 120 Drophead Coupe (DHC) and later variants, provided open-air motoring with quite civilized fully lined insulated tops with the weather-protection of the hardtop models.