A cabriolet (pronounced “cab-ri-oh-lay”) is a variety of “topless” or convertible car. A cabriolet allows the roof to be folded back while leaving the sides of the vehicle. The folding top is usually made from tough vinyl or canvas with plastic rear windows, hence the common name “soft-top”. Some makes of cabriolet have a more rigid folding structure, and these are referred to as “hard tops”.
The term “cabriolet” has been taken from the old horse-and-carriage days – a reminder that a car was once called a “horseless carriage”. In the old days, a cabriollet referred to a light two-wheeled carriage that was pulled by one horse and usually used for speedy driving for one or two passengers rather than heavy-duty cargo and passenger carrying. Like the modern cabirolet, the horse-drawn version had a retractable cloth awning that covered the passenger area. If you have ever seen an illustration or a movie involving a Victorian hansom cab, you have seen the old version of cabriolet (by way of interest, the modern word “cab” was shortened from “cabriolet”).
The modern cabriolet is still a vehicle for pleasure and speed, although modern mechanised versions have many, many more horses under the bonnet. Cabriolets are usually driven for pleasure, and tend to have sporty handling. A cabriolet usually has head-turning styling and stands out from the crowd. Cars that come with cabriolet body styles range from well-loved classics like the Volkswagen Beetle to sports cars such as the Porsche Boxter and the BMW Z-series.
We hope that helps answer the question ‘What is What is a Cabriolet?’!
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