AGONY, DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF CONVERTIBLES
Why the (european) makers faked the cabriolets' death to rise them again from the ashes...
There was a time when a cabriolet was the highest expression of luxury and automotive coolness. Taking into account that in the beginnings of car history, all cars were open roof, and they clearly shown the wealthiness of their owners, this fragrance of distinction stuck into convertible cars until now.
Convertibles became really popular within the first decades of automotive history. Ford T indeed was a convertible from the beginning. Photo credit: motorfull.com
In the past, it was by far the best way to enjoy a car, and completely amuse with the driving experience, feeling the air in your face. But times grew faster, and that cool caressing breeze turned into a noisy, unnerving windy torture, so convertibles got relegated to some guys in a midlife crisis week-end caprice.
Apart from that, in the late 90s and 00s, brands made cabrio versions of almost every single model in their catalogues. This massification hurt the convertible segment very badly, cabrios were cool no more, because everyone could have access to one. So people moved to other places and in mid-late 00s they were almost dead. Yeah, of course, still lots of Miatas, Boxters and BMW Cs were sold, but that's precisely the problem. There were too many.
Yeah, even that had its own cabrio version... Embarrass yourselves..
But as related in the title, the cabrios were not really dead. They only needed to fake their own death to relive, to have a fresh start and make themselves cool again. That's when in late 00s and still on, brands have done great efforts to make cool cabrios again, and yet some of them accesible, but still more expensive than their hardtop brothers.
Apart from blockbusters like Fiat 500c, DS3 Cabrio and Mini Convertible, there have been some models that have given this segment a new splendor, like the fifth generation MX-5 (and its Fiat 124 Spider cousin), the BMW 2 and 4 Series or the Audi 3 Series Cabrio. Sadly, some brands have been seriously damaged in this massacre, like the french guys of Peugeot and Renault, which dominated the market then, with such hits as Mégane Cabrio or the 206 and 307 CC. Of course not to mention the supercar segment, but that's another story...
Car industry had to sacrifice some of their pawns to save the big players, and this process took away models like the VW Eos, which didn't hit the market as they were expected to, and some others like the 307 CC itself.
The manoeuver looked risky, and could have been a mayhem but, makers played the right cards, and they won the hand. New wave of cabrios have apparently got to the point better than expected, even in the premium segment, so it seems that the play was necessary, like when you cut some branches of a tree to make it grow stronger. Nature, life itself, inspiring such a powerful industry as automotive.
Luckily for open roof lovers, the purge worked out, and since mid 10s, convertible market is experiencing a nice rebound, with sales figures growing up constantly since 2014. Let's hope it stays this way for some other years... It's not all SUVs in life!