The term convertible may not refer to the bodystyle of the vehicle but to the roof of the car that can retract (pull back) and fold into the trunk or boot of the car allowing the top of the passenger compartment to be open.
  The roof is usually not detached from the car but there are a few convertibles that completely detaches the roof during the retraction process. The front windshield remains in place during the process.
  There are two (2) types of convertibles:-
  • Hard top- this type of roof is made with a rigid material and has the look and feel of the rest of the exterior. There is a visible line that can be seen to separate the roof from the rest of the body. Hard tops usually folds in two.
  • Soft top- this type of roof is made of vinyl or a similar material and which gives the roof a different look and feel. Soft tops can fold in multiple places along the roof by using a thin metal frame. This allows soft tops to occupy less space in the trunk.
  Convertibles can only be applied to certain bodytypes such as sedans and coupes because of their body style and size. A hatchback is small but has no trunk to store the roof when it retracts and it is difficult (not impossible so there are a few hatchback convertibles) to design a convertible on a vehicle that uses a hatch. Sedans can only be soft tops as the larger roof of a sedan will not fit in the average size trunk if the roof is a hard top.
m6 convertible A soft top convertible infinity convertibleThe Infinity G37 with the top down
  A convertible is sometimes considered to be its own bodystyle is because the structure and engineering of a vehicle usually has to change from what was used in the regular bodystyle since most vehicles use some sort of monocoque chassis.
  Certain parts of the roof of the car may be integrated into the monocoque and if a convertible version of that car is being built other areas will have to be further strenghtened for the car to operate without a roof.
  These slight differences in engineering may cause the weight of the two cars to vary and there will be differences in weight distribution as the weight and position of the roof has a high impact on the overall weight of the car.
  Drivers can retract the roof by either doing it manually or automatic by the use of a control. It is not recommended to change the position of the roof while driving.
  Although I love the look of a hard top, the weight of the roof can cause the center of gravity to shift when the weight is transferred to the back. The trunk can't be used for much cargo when the roof is back so convertibles may have reduced practicality.
External Links
Sales and servicing of convertibles and convertible parts Magazines and discussions on convertibles  
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