Are You Daring Enough to Go Topless? Advice for Buying a Convertible Car

Are You Daring Enough to Go Topless? Advice for Buying a Convertible Car

By Andy Cook

Ah, summer… the perfect time of year for top-down driving. If you looking for an adventure, feeling a bit blue because things haven’t been going your way, or if your job is driving you to distraction, hop into a convertible for some open air driving… it may be just what you need.

Being a convertible owner myself for the last 20 years, I can tell you one thing without reservation:  open air driving is a lot of fun! So, if you’re in the market for a soft-top, let me take you through some things to think about.

There are lots of options out there, and most of it depends on two things: your transportation needs and your budget. Answer the following questions:  Will this be your only vehicle?  Would you consider pre-owned or is new what you’re looking for?  Also, consider the height of your regular passengers and how many people you’ll want to take for a ride.

Holly Jarrett, owner of Star Buick/GMC/Cadillac in Quakertown, PA, says that her first car was a red Ford Mustang GT, which she remembers fondly. “The feeling of freedom, and feeling the sun, with the music cranked, created great memories,” says Jarrett. She recommends if you are on the market for a convertible, take into consideration if this will be your only car or a 2nd car. This will help determine if you want a 4-seater, or a more compact 2-seater.

You’ll need to think about all these things before you embark on a search for that “perfect” convertible. Remember, although you certainly will look great in that little Mazda Miata convertible, you need to be able to fit behind the wheel without having your knees up around the steering wheel, or your head bent at a 45-degree angle when the top is up! If you can only fit in your car with the top down, you should consider a larger vehicle.

If you’re looking for an entry-level, open-air feeling, consider the venerable favorite, the Jeep Wrangler. Now putting the top up and down requires about ten minutes and some tools, and that is important to know. Also, the Jeep has available 4WD which makes it an attractive option for winter months. If you’re looking for a simple latch or two and a power top, you’ll be increasing your budget.

Speaking of larger price tags, but still under the $30K range, check out the Fiat 500C, Mazda Miata, Mini Cooper, or VW Beetle. If you’re looking for more luxury and a higher sticker price, you might want to consider convertibles offered by Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar and Porsche.

If you are concerned about the quality of a soft-top roof, rest assured it’s improved greatly over the years. “Convertibles are much better designed now, versus the days of old when they used to leak,” says Frank Gerenser, President and General Manager of Brown Daub Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep in Bath. He adds that the Chrysler 200 is available in both soft-top and folding hardtop configurations. He said the folding hardtop models have been successful in our area, as they are good for changing seasons as well as added security.

Another alternative is going used – way, way used. There is a certain hipness to having a car from the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s. Pick up an old Mustang, Firebird or Camaro – or even an 80s-vintage Chrysler LeBaron for a retro-chic appeal. The good thing about American convertibles is that finding parts is much easier than if you had an old MGB or Jaguar E-Type convertible.

No matter which convertible you choose, the view from behind the wheel will always be breathtaking. As you lower that top and check your look in the rearview mirror you can’t help but grin from ear-to-ear.

One last piece of advice… when the temperatures take a dip, pack a sweater and put your heater on low… or find a special person to help keep you warm!

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