Convertibles of the '60s Looked Like a Lot More Fun

Craig Fitzgerald

Craig Fitzgerald | Apr 21, 2016

The Buick Cascada is making the rounds in media fleets around the country. It's Buick's latest car, and its first convertible since the first front-wheel-drive Rivera bowed out when George H. W. Bush was tossing his cookies on Japan's prime minister.

The Cascada looks like a pleasant enough car, but if you visit Buick's website, the photos on the landing page seem stark and melancholy, like somebody left this dull gray car in front of the Bayview Restaurant with the top down and forgot to come retrieve it.

That's definitely not how Madison Avenue portrayed American convertibles in the post-war era, and if we know anything from sitting around for hours waiting for something exciting to happen on Mad Men, advertising would never lie.

No, ma'am, when you purchased a convertible in the 1950s and 1960s, you were going places and doing things. FUN THINGS.

There's a man with a captain's hat in this picture! Captain's hat means, you're going places!

Take this artful depiction of the Cadillac Eldorado for example. Do you think you're driving it to a two-hour conference about Common Core math with your kid's second grade teacher?

Are you out of your mind?!

Destination: Funtown! Population: YOU!

All the way at the other end of the decade, this lady is looking at you with exactly the same expression as the 1959 Chevrolet Impala in the picture. She is not saying "Drop me off at Curves on the way to your colonoscopy." She is saying, "I'm supposed to work tomorrow but I told the boss to go to hell!"

It says "ELEGANT" right in the picture!

People who owned convertibles did interesting things in the 1960s. Take this 1966 Ford Thunderbird owner. He's hitting the links in his green Bing Crosby sweater while his spouse presumably waits patiently in the hot sun for nine hours for him to finish golfing and drinking.

"Leaving no hint that there ever was a top."

Your average race fan these days has to be told to wear a shirt to a funeral parlor. Not when you had a convertible! Why, you were the classiest racing fan ever in your 1961 Pontiac Bonneville:

You were off to the races in your 1963 Ford Galaxie convertible, too, where you didn't even have to sit in a seat, because you rolled right up to the track's edge without pesky lawyers telling you to "Be careful!" and "Don't get your girlfriend or your wife or both killed by a flying wheel!"

Best seat in the house!

Owning a convertible and doing fun things was a part of life in post-war America, and a lot of that fun happened at the beach. This 1959 Oldsmobile-owning crew is about to bust into that surf shack which cost about $11 to build in 1959, and would take Howard Hughes money to build today, if you could even get the Coastal Commission to approve the permit.

The only guy we found who didn't appear to be having such a great time in his convertible is the owner of this 1955 Buick Roadmaster. His girlfriend and the dude next to her in that lean-to are having a grand old time, while he's stuck schelpping a float, an umbrella, a cooler and some kind of anthropomorphous inner tube with a head on it.

"HEY! YO! BABS! A LITTLE HELP!"

Irritated as he must be, he's still waving. Waving was a thing you did when you had a convertible. A lot:

Owning a convertible in the 60s was like being permanently on parade marshall duty.

Yes, I see you, flapping your scarf in your '60 Sunliner. That's how Isadora Duncan bought it, you know.

Going up? Wave twice for yes.

Still waving a scarf around, two years later in this '62 Corvette. Why? Because the only thing more fun than waving is having a convertible. You don't see people waving out of a compact crossover, do you? OF COURSE YOU DON'T.

As fun as convertibles are, "The Man" is trying to keep you down by keeping them out of the reach of everybody but Fat Cats and one-percenters. They do come in all kinds of configurations, but there are only 27 left with a base price under $85,000.

Get yours today, and for crying out loud, wave to people instead of just parking it out front with the top down.


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