Cabriolet VS Convertible

So many of you may have this question in your mind as to why some people use the word Convertible and others may use the word Cabriolet. Many of you know the difference between the two, or do you? Well, now you are probably saying I for sure know the difference. Okay, let us discuss the difference as a fact, or could that fact to you be a matter of region and a custom based on a culture where one word is used to describe a particular body style but another word for the country of origin of the car.

  1. Primarily I am addressing the XJSC known as the Cabriolet that Jaguar produced in the mid-1980s until 1987. This is the car that I show in the photo. This particular style of car was introduced to the car market mainly because there were a group of people in Detroit during the 1970s that formed a lobby, who were trying to get the Convertible car outlawed. When using the Convertible here, the Detroit lobby headed by Ralph Nader, was any car that had a soft canvas type roof that one can drop in the down position converting the car into an open-top car as some would call a “droptop” another term some would use.

The argument was that too many people were losing their lives when the car would roll over and the passengers would have no protection. Therefore, a safety issue was the case. The car manufacturers began to build cars that had a hardtop but with removable sections. Such as the T-Tops. Jaguar took it to another level and added also a removable rear section. This has a hardtop that you could remove and attach a soft top but again the soft top only covers the rear section of which there is no rear seat. Porsche created a similar car in the 1960s which was the 912 Targa.


  1. In time the Detroit lobby against the Convertible failed and the manufacturers who made Convertibles before the lobby began to roll out their version. Jaguar in 1989 produced theirs. Before this, if you wanted an XJS Convertible, you could purchase a hardtop and commission a company named Hess and Eisenhardt to convert the car. This company was known for building Armored private cars including some Presidential cars. 
  2. So now that I have given some background on the XJSC Known as the Cabriolet and the 1989 factory Convertible, let us address why some people describe the soft top full convertible as a Cabriolet which may rub some XJSC owners bonkers when they hear this! Well in short order folks, Some countries refer to all soft-top cars as Cabriolet. Germany in particular and several other European countries do the same. For example, all Mercedes convertibles are referred to as a Cabriolet. So now that we all have some clarity on the subject, to all of the XJS people who are ready to beat the folks that use the word Cabriolet when referring to the XJS Convertible with a big stick in the town square, go easy on them because, in their culture, they are correct. So let us all put down our weapons and make peace over the use of the word. 


1 comment

  • A cabriolet is a cabriolet and a convertible is a convertible. Seems pretty simple to me. Where’s some sand I can kick? grumble…….grumble


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