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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 may have 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 semi-convertible 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 semi-enclosed convertible with a fully enclosed front cabin and an open rear, typically with a folding fabric top and roll-down glass all round.
Many convertibles are two-door models, with a number of four-door modelsThere are a range of available materials for soft tops.
Canvas: Early convertibles used canvas. Automakers had problems in securing raw materials to fulfill orders after World War II, including canvas in various shades for convertible tops and limiting their manufacture.