Convertibles were actually introduced by Buick, Chrysler, Lincoln, and other car manufacturers in the late nineteen twenties. A convertible is a car that has a top that can be put either up or down. A true convertible also has glass windows built-in on the side of the car that can be wound up and down. In the earliest days, a car that had an open top and curtains on the sides, in place of windows, was known as touring cars. They were not true convertibles.
Convertible tops started out as being manually operated. It usually took two people to unhook, then fold down or fold up, the heavy, clumsy, top of a car. Finally, in the late nineteen-thirties, Plymouth introduced the first car that had a power convertible top that could be raised or lowered with the push of a button. This revolutionary idea has carried on to the convertibles of today.
So, how does a convertible work?
First, not just any car can become a convertible. A car that’s going to have a convertible, or have a fold-down top, must have a reinforced body. This is because the absence of an actual, built-in roof can cause the body of a car to actually bend out of shape. The workings of convertible roofs vary somewhat, depending on their manufacturer. Most are primarily constructed of a lightweight metal frame that is covered with vinyl or canvas. And, the back windows in a convertible are usually made of a clear, hard lightweight plastic.
Basically, though, along with the reinforced body, a power convertible top can be put down by releasing the latches that attach the roof to the body of the car. These are usually located on the frame of the windshield. Then, the driver pushes a switch on the dashboard. The switch, which is powered by the car’s battery, sends power to a motor. The motor, which operates by gears, makes several hydraulic cylinders move.
The motor is attached to the cylinders by hidden wiring in the inside of the convertible top. These cylinders are located on the side and/or the back of the convertible top. When the cylinders retract, the top, which is made of hinged vinyl or canvas, folds down. (Likewise, when the cylinders extend, it pushes the top of the car up and into place.) Most cars have convertible tops that simply fold down and lay on top of the back deck. Some of the most expensive models, however, have tops that are actually stored in the trunk when they are not put up.
Then, to raise a convertible top, the driver pushes a switch on the dashboard, and the whole process is reversed as the hydraulic cylinders push the car’s top back up and into position. The driver then refastens the latches that attach the roof to the body of the car.
If you are putting a convertible top up, and you need to stop for some reason, many cars have hydraulic check valves and solenoid valves installed in them. These valves help to hold the top in place.
The most common problem with a convertible not working at all is that the motor has quit working. The motor can be easily replaced with a brand new one, or, a good-used motor from a junkyard.most common