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Convertible + Cabriolet

A convertible or cabriolet is an automobile body style that can convert between an open-air mode and an enclosed one, varying in degree and means by model. Convertibles evolved from the earlier phaeton, an open vehicle without glass side windows that sometimes had removable panels of fabric or other material for protection from the elements.

Historically, a retractable roof consisted of an articulated frame covered with a folding, textile-based fabric similar to that on an open carriage evolved into the most common form. A lesser seen detachable hardtop provided a more weatherproof and secure alternative. As technology improved, a retractable hardtop which removes and stows its own rigid roof in its trunk appeared, increasingly becoming the most popular form.

A semiconvertible also known as a cabrio coach has a retractable or removable top which retains fully framed windows on its doors and side glass. A landaulet is a semienclosed convertible with a fully enclosed front cabin and an open rear, typically with a folding fabric top and roll-down glass all round.

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Folding textile roof:

The collapsible textile roof section (of cloth or vinyl) over an articulated folding frame may include linings such as a sound-deadening layer or interior cosmetic headliner (to hide the frame)  – or both – and may have electrical or electrohydraulic mechanisms for raising the roof. The erected top secures to the windshield frame header with manual latches, semimanual latches, or fully automatic latches. The folded convertible top is called the stack.

Detachable hardtop:

Rigid removable hardtops, many of which store in a car's trunk, have been around at least since the 1950s. These normally provide superior weatherproofing, soundproofing, and durability compared to fabric-based tops, some with integrated rear-window defrosters and windscreens. Examples include the first- and 11th-generation Ford Thunderbird, second- and third-generation Mercedes SL, Porsche Boxster, Jeep Wrangler, and Mazda MX-5. Many of the rigidity concerns of a standard convertible are present, even with the roof attached, although in the case of the early Daimler SP250s, the hardtop does give some extra rigidity. However, weatherproofing, climate control, and cabin security are improved.

Retractable hardtop:

A retractable hardtop, also known as coupé convertible or coupé cabriolet, employs an automatically operated, multipart, self-storing hardtop.

American Ben P. Ellerbeck created a manually operated retractable hardtop prototype in 1922 — for a Hudson coupe that never went into production. The first French version was the Georges Paulin-designed 1934 Peugeot 601 Éclipse.

By 2006, advances in electronics, hydraulics, and weatherproofing materials had made the modern retractable hardtop increasingly popular. Pros and cons include ease, enclosed car quality climate control with the top up, improved crash resistance, and passenger compartment storage security on the plus side, and increased mechanical complexity and expense, and more often than not, reduced luggage capacity on the minus.

A 2006 New York Times article suggested the retractable hardtop may herald the demise of the textile-roofed convertible,and a 2007 Wall Street Journal article suggested "more and more convertibles are eschewing soft cloth tops in favor of sophisticated folding metal roofs, making them practical in all climates, year-round."

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