The Convertible

by Ken Vose

What do Batman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Richard Petty, Liberace, and Pope John Paul II have in common? They are all featured in Ken Vose’s latest book. His background as a Formula One driver, SAH member, author of two racing novels, and co-author of the Greased Lightning screenplay all contribute to his “storyteller’s” view of the world.

As you move through the Introduction, and from chapter to chapter, you realize this is no textbook full of technical readouts and specifications. But even the hardcore gearhead will be captivated, almost overwhelmed by the sheer volume of obscure and little known information between the covers.

This book is less about any one car than it is about the “convertible lifestyle.” Convertibles are both less and more than mere transportation devices. In the beginning most cars were open, not so much by intent but because they were holdovers from the carriage days and new forms had yet to be thought up. Somewhere along the way they became cultural icons. Nowadays having a convertible implies an element of choice, of volition, of desire. It is this trail the author follows.

Drawing upon extensive resources he presents us with a unique take on the convertible. Each chapter treats us to a new look at the ragtop, and each page yields a surprise. Within chapter 2, we experience the convertible through a woman’s eyes. Chapter 4 brings us the Amphicar, the Taylor/Aerocar, the Batmobile and the Hippomobile to name a few. The only unique ragtop missing is the Lunar Rover!

Design and presentation of the book are as thorough as its contents. From the way the car wraps around the book jacket to the way heads are styled to look like chrome scripts on cars, designer Shawn Hazen has created an all-around beautiful book.

More than 125 illustrations show rare and unusual convertibles, the individuals that own and drive them, memorabilia, and rare vintage shots. For those who have not yet enjoyed the wind in their hair, the sun on their face, and the bugs in their teeth, the picture this book paints of the allure of driving and owning your own convertible may well be enticing enough to turn window shopping into tire-kicking (think winter; convertible prices are seasonal . . .).


Copyright 2013, Michael Smith (

The Convertible
by Ken Vose
Chronicle Books, 1999
120 pages, 125+ color and b/w photos, hardcover
List Price: $29.95
ISBN-13: 978-0811824477

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