Thursday, March 12, 2009

1952 Chevrolet Bel Air

"There's never been a low-priced car like this before! The beautiful Bel Air combines the airiness and interior richness of a convertible with the coziness and permanence of an all-steel top."

This is how Chevrolet's sales brochure from 1950 described the advantages of an rather odd innovation which should become all the rage throughout the 50s: the "hardtop convertible".

Different companies claimed the hardtop as their invention, but it was then-fashion leader GM who brought it into mass production. The first hardtops appeared on Buicks, Cadillacs and Oldsmobiles in 1949. One year later, all divisions of General Motors offered "hardtop convertibles", and it should take one more year until Chrysler and Ford finally jumped onto the bandwagon.

Although hardtops always suffered from their structural disadvantages -higher weight and less rigidity than common sedans- the customers went crazy for the new fashion. In Cuba, hardtops are all over the place, and here they make sense, too. Plainly, driving a convertible in these hot weather conditions isn't exactly fun.

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