T he term “convertible,” meaning a car that could convert itself from enclosed to open- topped, was not standardized in the auto industry until 1928. Before that, cars with removable tops were known as roadsters, runabouts, or touring cars. Convertible was formally adopted in 1928, however, by the Society of Automotive Engineers. The year 1929 brought to the United States the stock-market crash and the Great Depression, which would spread around the world. Ironically, since the only folks who could afford a car were the incredibly rich, these harsh economic times gave birth to the era of the ultra-luxurious touring car. Packard Twelve Such a touring car was the Packard Twelve convertible of 1933, which had a massive 7,300-cubic-centimeter, 12-cylinder, centrifugal-pump, water-cooled engine. It had syncromesh gears, semi-elliptic leaf-spring suspension on rigid axles, mechanical drum brakes on all wheels, and a maximum speed of 100 miles per hour. So it had muscle, all right—long before anyone ever thought to call it that—but the thing that made it art was its convertible roof, designed by Count Alexis de Akro Sakroffsky. That roof transformed the vehicle into a limousine. All of Packard’s cars during this time were marvelous. The 1934 Packard convertible was designated a “classic” by the Classic Car Club of America (CCCA). Mint-condition convertibles manufactured by Packard in 1934 have sold for as much as $120,000 in today’s collectors’ market. But Packard merged with Studebaker in 1954, and the name was last used on a car four years later. Other cars of the 1930s that typified the gorgeous convertibles of the era were the rag- top editions of the 1934 Pontiac Series 603 Cabriolet, the 1937 Ford DeLuxe Convertible Sedan, the 1937 Packard Super 8 Convertible Coupe, the 1940 Buick Roadmaster Convertible Sedan, and the 1940 Ford Deluxe Convertible Coupe. The War For the most part, the manufacturing of civilian production automobiles came to a halt during World War II, as the world’s car factories were almost all being used for the war effort. Some “1942” convertibles were built in the United States during the weeks before


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