A convertible is a type of automobile in which the roof can retract and fold away having windows which wind-down inside the doors, converting it from an enclosed to an open-air vehicle. Many different automobile body styles are manufactured and marketed in convertible form. Open cars may have a folding roof but only detachable sidescreens which snap-on, they do not convert into a fully enclosed car with proper weather-protection. The wind-up windows make the distinction between an open car and an all-weather car now known as a convertible.
Convertibles are a luxury because they are more expensive to build than closed cars, the matching sedans or saloons. Open cars were significantly cheaper to build and very much lighter than sedans, saloons or convertibles and usually very flexible.
Ben P. Ellerbeck conceived the first practical retractable hardtop system in 1922 – a manually operated system on a Hudson coupe that allowed unimpeded use of the rumble seat even with the top down – but never saw production.