Special thanks to Johnson Lexus of Raleigh, NC, and Autopark Honda of Cary, NC, for their assistance with this article.

There's something about driving with the wind flowing over you that makes you feel more in touch with the road and landscape. A convertible car captures this open feeling, while maintaining most of the practicality of conventional hard-top cars by using roofs that are easily raised and lowered.

In this article, we'll see how the convertible top works and check out a really neat retractable hardtop. But first, let's take a look at some of the challenges faced by designers of convertible cars.