The wind in your hair, the sun on your face, and the world at your wheels - there's nothing like the freedom and exhilaration of driving with the top down. Clark Gable drove a convertible. So did Elvis, Rita Hayworth, and Gary Cooper. Jay Gatsby drove one in the book, and Thelma and Louise rode off in one in the movie. On the road, and in film, art, and literature, the convertible is more than just a car - it's a state of mind, a way of life.

Automotive expert Ken Vose traces the evolution of the convertible as car and cultural icon, from the earliest ragtop to the open car of the future. Vose knows that every car (and every driver) has a story, and he recounts the best ones about classic Pierce-Arrows, Packards, Speedsters, Roadsters, Duesenbergs, and Bugattis - as well as today's Corvettes, Miatas, BMWs, Mustangs, and Prowlers. This witty tribute includes more than 125 photographs, illustrations, and other memorabilia, including rare vintage shots and art created specifically for this volume. This fast-lane celebration of the glamour, allure, and style of the ultimate dream machine is as much fun as a summer spin on an open road. Almost.



The Convertible
- Chronicle Books, 1999



The Convertible: Review by Lesley Hazelton
The Car,  April 3, 2000

      When a book called The Convertible: An Illustrated History of a Dream Machine by Kenneth E. Vose (Chronicle Books, $29.95) turned up in my mailbox, I assumed it was another of those coffee-table books I'd give to a charity auction. They get good prices there, contributing to a worthwhile cause instead of worsening the weight and balance problem of my houseboat. (If I go over a thousand books, I begin to list, so my library gets pruned regularly and ruthlessly.)
       The Convertible was halfway to the auction pile, unopened, when I caught sight of the author's name and changed my mind. Vose is an automotive journalist who wrote two thrillers set in the world of Formula 1 Racing: Oversteer and Dead Pedal, both of which I devoured and waited for more. None came. When I met him, I asked why. "No money in novels," he said sadly. Let's hope there is in convertibles, because this is a coffee-table book with a difference. It takes a novelist to begin a book on convertibles with a consideration of the Castro Convertible bed. Let alone to extend the idea of convertibles from merely roofless cars to amphibious and flying cars.
       It takes a deliciously unpredictable mind to include New Yorker cartoons, Thelma and Louise, a pink Cadillac music box and Son of Flubber, along with shots of the Archduke Ferdinand setting out for Sarajevo on the day of his assassination in 1914, Pope John Paul II and his pre-assasination-attempt Popemobile with open top, and a bubble-top armored presidential car that Vose points out might have prevented John F. Kennedy's assassination.
       And if I had any doubts at all about keeping this book in my library, they were dispelled the moment I saw a Martha McFerren poem across from a photo of a woman doing her attitude thing atop a 1968 Olds 442. "More women have done this than you'd imagine," the poem begins.
       If you can't imagine what that might be, buy Vose's book, or McFerren's "Women In Cars" or preferably both. I should add that I have a bias in Vose's favor, because there are a couple of quotes from my own books included. One of them, to my delight, is under a photo of Rita Hayworth in The Lady From Shanghai. He also includes great shots of 1930's French salon cars - Delages, Delahayes, Bugattis - which happen to be my one automotive weakness aside from the venerable Citroen 2CV. But even without the appeal to my vanity, this book would be a keeper.

The Convertible: Review by Randy Rundle
Old Cars; Weekly News & Marketplace,  February 17, 2000

Did you ever stop to wonder what makes a convertible car seem more special than a sedan or coupe? There is a sense of freedom that comes with owning a convertible. All of your problems seem to disappear when you own and drive a convertible. How exactly did that mystique come about and why has it lasted over the years? Ken Vose has captured the spirit and mystique associated with convertibles through the years. The book uses quality photography along with related anecdotes to help illustrate how the status of the convertible has become etched in our minds. Vose has done an excellent job of portraying some of the people places and events that have allowed us to associate the convertible with the care-free lifestyle. The Convertible may soon take on the status of the very mystique it has captured. The quality photography found in this book makes it a bargain; the rest is "just icing on the cake" For ordering information: Chronicle Books, 85 Second St., San Francisco, CA 94105.

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