Left: The original Ford Mustang convertible.
There's nothing better on a summer's day than driving with the top down, wind in your hair, in a convertible. And while the lure of a convertible might be its sex appeal, the convertible's beginnings were decidedly less auspicious.
The earliest cars were ALL convertibles. This Model T (left) had the top on, but it was mostly driven without - plus there's no windshield or side windows, hence the protective gear modeled by CBS News' Mo Rocca
Babe Ruth takes a spin in his new roadster, with Yankees manager Miller Huggins in the passenger seat, in this 1922 photo.
A Modern Automobile
Left: A 1928 Ford ad.
Matt Anderson, curator of transportation at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., says the convertible has had more ups and downs than the car's top on a partly cloudy day.
"In the beginning, open cars are about affordability," Anderson told CBS News' Mo Rocca. "But you start to see things change as enclosed cars get mass-produced and become more affordable. And then the convertibles become more the domain of the rich. So everything kind of turns around 180."
A vintage Peugeot car, part of a collectors' show by Bonhams auction house at the Grand Palais in Paris, February 4, 2011.
A Blastolene Roadster is displayed during the 37th Annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Cars auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, January 16, 2008.
A woman in the back seat of an SS (a.k.a. Standard Swallow) tourer, circa 1935.
SS Cars changed its name to Jaguar Cars in 1945.
A 1936 BMW 328-roadster.
Duesenberg J Roadster
By 1936, the open-top car accounted for less than one percent of automobile sales. By then, the convertible was essentially dead, though Henry Ford Museum's Anderson said there were still wealthy drivers who could afford to get whatever they wanted.
And what kind of convertibles were those? At that time, said Anderson, they were big cars: "These are the luxury automobiles with the 8-cylinder, 12-cylinder in some cases engines. Expensive vehicles, not cheap."
Left: American screen star Clark Gable poses in his custom-bodied, eight-cylinder Duesenberg J roadster, April 2, 1936.
The next shift in the popularity of the convertible came when many young Americans went to Europe during World War II.
"They see in England and France and other countries these little roadster cars with soft convertible tops," said Anderson. "They're cars just for fun."
Left: A 1948 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Demola.
In fact, by 1950, every U.S. car maker had a convertible in its lineup -- 33 models in all.
Left: A 1950 Mercury advertisement.
President Dwight Eisenhower waves to the crowd (in an image which obviously predates Photoshop) while riding in the presidential 1953 Cadillac Eldorado limousine during his Inauguration Parade in January 1953.
A 1956 Ford Thunderbird.
An example of Ferrari's 1956 line of grand touring (GT) cars.
An Iranian woman watches the convertible roof of a 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner operate during a classic cars show at Niavaran Palace in Tehran, July 20, 2009. About 60 classic cars and Harley Davidson motorcycles belonging to individuals, private collectors and the ousted Shah of Iran, were displayed.
Former New York Yankee Joe DiMaggio rides onto the field in a Ford Thunderbird convertible during a pre-game ceremony at Yankee Stadium on September 27, 1998 in Bronx, New York.
The interior of an old Chevrolet Impala is seen at Long Beach, Calif.'s antique automobile market April 8, 2007.
A 1960 Chevrolet Corvette coupe.
A 1961's Austin-Healey Sprite is on display at the antique automobile market in Pomona, Calif., August 16, 2009.
A 1961 Chevrolet Mako Shark Corvette.
A 1961 Jaguar E-Type roadster.
Left: A 1962 Lincoln Continental convertible.
Between 1962 and 1966, convertibles accounted for six percent of U.S. car sales.
A 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
An ad for the Chevrolet Corvair, which seems to also promote sitting without seat belts.
Usain Bolt of Jamaica greets fans as he enters the arena riding in a vintage MG car, during the IAAF Golden League Memorial Van Damme meet at King Baudouin Stadium on September 4, 2009 in Brussels, Belgium.
Members of the pop group S Club 7 drive onto a movie set in West Hollywood, September 7, 2002.
Left: A 1971 Oldsmobile 442 convertible.
But by the 1970s, convertibles hit the skids in popularity because of three factors, says the Henry Ford Museum's Matt Anderson: safety, security, and pace of life.
"People aren't cruising down the road at 35, 40 miles anymore; they're going 55, 60, 70 miles an hour," he told Mo Rocca. "And that gentle breeze in your hair becomes something like a hurricane when you're moving at that speed."
A 2002 Chrysler Prowler roadster.
A 2001 Aston Martin DB7 Vantage.
A 2002 Porsche 911 Targa convertible.
In the 1960s Gerry Anderson puppet show, "Thunderbirds," Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward's car was a six-wheeled pink car with the very best in spy gadgets. Given Lady Penelope's station, her car was dubbed a modified Rolls-Royce, though it bore little resemblance to the real thing.
For the 2004 live-action film "Thunderbirds," Ford modified a Thunderbird chassis to create this six-wheeled FAB-1.
The Gibbs Aquada amphibious vehicle, here breaking the world record for fastest crossing of the English Channel, with U.K. businessman Richard Branson aboard, June 14, 2006.
Nowadays, convertibles make up around 1 percent of the 15.5 million cars sold in the U.S. annually.
Left: The 2007 Mazda MX-5 Miata.
A 2009 Tesla electric roadster.
A 2014 BMW 4-series convertible.
The Porsche 918 Spyder.
For more info:
Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, Mich.
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan