Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Life in a Convertible Worth Looking At

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Life in a Convertible Worth Looking At

Article excerpt

ERIE, Pa. - Howie Friedman starts getting a little depressed when September arrives and he begins thinking about putting the top up and the Beetle away.

The approach of fall brings an end to the convertible cruising season for Mr. Friedman and his wife, Jean. The Millcreek pair has been driving convertibles for more than 50 years. The Friedmans, and other owners of cars that can go from closed to open with the push of a button, said there's nothing like riding in a car without a roof between you and the outside.

"They're a whole bunch of fun," Mr. Friedman, 74, said.

Like their tops, convertible sales have gone up and down over the years, almost dying out in the 1970s before resurging the following decade.

Dale Kallenbach's first was a 1954 Pontiac.

"When you were a kid, you always liked convertibles," he said.

Mr. Kallenbach, 78, of Fairview has driven them on and off since high school.

"They're cars that people look at," he said.

He and his wife, Mary Ann, have had a 1955 MG Model TF for about 15 years. The roadster, with a soft top, is red.

Mr. Kallenbach said it's the kind of car, with just two seats, that's more appropriate for baby boomers with time to play than for a family.

An Experian Automotive analysis from 2014 found that convertible owners were more likely to be successful, college-educated and live in a sun-filled state.

But sometimes the sun can be too much.

Sitting in an open convertible can be unbearable during the heat of the day, especially when stopped in traffic, Ms. Friedman said. But once the sun heads down, so does the top.

"There's nothing like it on a beautiful evening," she said.

Ms. Friedman, 72, still remembers when her young man would come courting in his 1957 Chevrolet convertible. She had her own 1957 Ford retractable hardtop, but she said she prefers soft tops now. She thinks they're easier, with less to go wrong.

Hard or soft, the couple has always had a car with a top that goes down.

"We've been married 46-plus years," Mr. Friedman said. "Since we started dating in 1961, we've never been without a convertible."

The list has included Rambler, Chevelle, Camaro, Pontiac and Corvette, he said. …

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