With Cabriolet convertible or short the body shape of a car is called, the roof can be opened by folding back.


Convertible is the abbreviation for the French cabriolet ( from the French cabrioler, " air jumps / Capriolen make " ), which is convertible Germanized written. Long before the age of the automobile was meant by convertible or Convertible a slight open, two-horse (horse ) car or car trip for fair weather days. The German writing and speech convertible is again in the meantime become rare.

Convertibles are often based on the coupe version of a vehicle model. Although they resemble the corresponding closed vehicles, they differ greatly in the design of the supporting body. With the missing roof as a supporting component, the total stiffness of today self-supporting body must be guaranteed by a reinforced floor pan. ( You can also talk about " shoebox " problem, because you can compare the rigidity of a convertible compared to a fixed-roof car with a shoebox, which can be as soon as you remove the lid easily twist in itself )

Traditionally, the term convertible vehicle with a lined fabric roof that can be completely folded back. If the top is not lined, it is called an open touring cars such as the Mercedes 170 OTP Da (open touring car police) from the early 1950s. In addition, shut-down side windows, the occupants sit apart from a possibly existing roll bar that is completely outdoors. Stay on the other hand are the window frames including the B- and C-pillars with the fold roof, then one speaks of a convertible sedan. This variation was particularly popular until the 1960s. Since the 1990s, however, more and more models are equipped with retractable steel roof or a retractable hardtop, so-called coupé - cabriolets. In common parlance, however, other types of vehicles with hinged top, an attached hood or emergency top (incorrectly) are referred to as a convertible today.

A convertible is a car, usually 2 - to 5-seater with no roof or retractable, lined hood, usually two, rarely four doors and retractable side windows. A convertible with four doors and four windows is known in the U.S. as " Sedan- Cabriolet ," or " Convertible Sedan ". In the 1920s to 1950s were distinguished by Mercedes- Benz convertible, the different types of order letters:

  • Cabriolet A: A two-door, two-seat vehicle usually with a solid all-weather soft top that folds behind the seats and remains visible. Support of the top mechanism partly with Landau poles.
  • Cabriolet B: A two-door, four-seat vehicle with a solid all-weather soft top that folds behind the seats. Side window for rear passengers. Support of the top mechanism partly with Landau poles.
  • Cabriolet C: Just as Cabriolet B, only without rear side windows.
  • Cabriolet D: A four-door, four - or five-seat vehicle with a heavy all-weather canopy. Usually with Landau - top mechanism.
  • Cabriolet Q: how Cabriolet D, but with side windows behind the rear doors

Convertible Class B are also called Convertible Coupe (USA) or Drophead or Drophead Coupe ( UK), thus termed coupe with wegfaltbarem roof, such as the Jaguar XK 120 DHC (Drop Head Coupe). In earlier times, all vehicles have been built on the framework, so that the actual body approached no load-bearing function. However, this construction is used today for weight reasons and because of the crash behavior only in off-road vehicles for rough terrain and truck.

With the introduction of self-supporting all-steel body in the passenger area of ​​the vehicle frame fell off and the building took on the task of supporting and stiffening the vehicle. Today's convertibles therefore differ from the closed base sedans by a reinforcement under the floor and a reinforced windscreen frame to compensate for the lack of reinforcement through the roof and bonded windows. Partly also comes permanently visible roll bars (eg Golf III Cabrio ) to this task. These are then often disparagingly, but perhaps also referred to simply as descriptive of "Strawberry Cup convertibles ". Another option is automatically extendable roll bars, which today is used in many models.

A simple sawing off the roof on the other hand reduces the stability of the body and requires extensive additional reinforcement measures. In the 1970s convertibles were built due to the security discussion that had an extra roll bar or were even designed as a convertible sedan. For example, the Baur Top Cabriolet based on the BMW 3 Series. Even when BMW offered a 3- full - Cabriolet, this model was still being sold.


When not all convertibles can be stowed under the hood of a folding flap, but it sits folded on the top flap. Examples include the Opel Astra F Cabrio, VW New Beetle Convertible or Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible. However, since water can damage the only folded- top, it makes sense to bring up a tarpaulin to protect the soft top that comes standard. The cover should - be used, otherwise can be damaged by moisture, the top - despite the complicated handling.

Since the mid- 1990s have seen increased efforts, the flexible convertible top material ( engl: soft top ) ( PVC or fabric ) by a folding metal roof, replace (engl retractable hardtop short RHT). After vehicles from Peugeot ( 1930 ) and Ford USA ( 1950 ) are due to the Mercedes SLK of 1996, the honor of being the first vehicle to be produced in high with metal folding roof. The roof consists of two or more parts that are folded over a complex kinematics and stored in the trunk. Advantage of this technique: The metal roof will wear less and is not as susceptible to vandalism as a fabric roof. In addition, such a car is insensitive to snow and ice and in the interior tend to be quieter than a convertible with a fabric roof.

These advantages are offset by several disadvantages. So the tin roof more expensive (about 1500 € ) than a fabric roof and requires more space in the trunk. In addition, most conventional two-piece designs can cover a limited interior length only, which is compensated by an extremely oblique and far more than the driver reaching windscreen at four-seater metal roof convertibles like the Renault Megane CC or the Peugeot 307 CC. This - it complain Convertible purists - affects the desired open- air feeling, especially for small people, whose seat is far forward. This can not convertible typical upright go into the car often.

In 2006, with the VW Eos, the Opel Astra Twin Top, the Volvo C70 and the Mitsubishi Colt, the first three-piece folding steel roofs on the market. Of these models, only the VW Eos in the closed state also has a glass sliding roof function. However, the BMW Mini Convertible sets the sliding roof function also with a fabric roof.

Overall, the retractable roof system won over fabric roofs first importance: There were and are appropriate vehicles from Nissan, Mercedes, Lexus, Daihatsu, Peugeot, Renault, Opel, Volkswagen, Volvo, Mazda ( which even in two variations), Mitsubishi, Chevrolet and Cadillac. BMW also equips the current 3 Series Convertible ( E93 ) - contrary to the tradition - with a fixed metal roof. In 2004, the retractable hardtops accounted for approximately 25% of the convertible production (about 225,000 ) and rising. The retractable hardtops not displace the fabric roof, but establish themselves in their own niche as a coupe with " open-air " option.

Meanwhile, there are also manufacturers who are returning to the traditional fabric roof, such as the Opel Cascada.

See also: rollover protection system

Convertible and convertible top manufacturer

The convertible is a niche vehicle. Convertibles are often not manufactured by the chassis manufacturer but by appropriately specialized companies.

Another variant is the delivery of the complete roof modules to the OEM, which then completes the convertible in its production lines of large series.

Renowned manufacturers of convertibles for various brands are or were, among others, Bertone, Pininfarina, Heuliez, Baur, Karmann and Magna Steyr.

In previous years there were hundreds of small to medium sized body building firms, some of which on their own, partly on behalf of the major vehicle manufacturers, Karosserienvarinaten of niche models (mostly just convertibles ) manufactured. The development in the postwar period toward self-supporting bodies such variants difficult. Furthermore, the manufacturer attracted increasingly niche models in their own production. The number of these companies is shrinking more and more. Also in recent years had some well-known manufacturers adjust their activities, such as Bertone in Turin or Karmann in Osnabrück.

Specialist companies often provide only the respective roof modules to the OEM. In the manufacture of roof modules, the company Dura Convertible Systems, Edscha, Webasto and OASys are specialized.

Other types of open vehicles

Other forms of open body vehicles, which have also often ( incorrectly ) referred to as a convertible:

  • Roadster ( even Spider, Spyder, Speedster Runabout ): Previously, open, two-seater and uncompromising sports car with emergency top and with plug - rather than wind-down windows for low-cut doors.: Triumph TR2.
  • Today, two -seater sports cars with an independent body and to-open top or two-seater sports coupe derivatives with openable hood. Best example: Mazda MX- fifth
  • Similar to the previous definition of the roadster a 4 - or more -seater open-top vehicle with 2 or 4 doors and simple (emergency) roof as well as plug - rather than crank windows. Related are touring cars, torpedo, Scaphandier ( emergency top only passenger compartment ) and Skiff ( with boot -like body made ​​of wood).

Term in the standard works of the DIN

As defined in the German standard DIN 70011 of March 1959, the Cabriolet had to have a zurücklegbares or retractable folding soft top with top and side window seal. In April 1978, this standard was revised in DIN 70010 was added. The term received the standardized spelling " convertible ", the folding top has been reworded as follows: top folded back ( resting or retractable); the optional presence of roll bars was explicitly mentioned. The Issue The May 1990 formulated then: Roof, rigid or flexible with a minimum of 2 positions: 1. Closed 2 opened or removed - The current edition of the standard is derived from March 2001.

Registrations in Germany

By 2006, the Federal Motor Vehicle Office introduced the segment Cabriolet (incl. Roadster ). Since 2007 open passenger cars are classified into different segments and optionally combined with the corresponding closed variants. For figures on annual new registrations of passenger cars in the convertible segment (incl. Roadster ) in Germany according to statistics from the Federal Motor Vehicle Office, see the list of registrations of new passenger cars in Germany by segment and model series # convertible (incl. Roadster ).