What Cheap Convertible Should I Buy to Find Out if I Like Convertibles?

In my years of driving, I have never really been sure how I feel about convertibles. My experience riding in them is very limited, and I just never decided whether I like the idea of driving a car without a top. The top is pretty useful for things like keeping the weather and wind noise away from you and encasing you in a nice cocoon of safety. But if convertibles are desirable enough for the Buick Cascada to exist, then there must be something pretty exhilarating about driving them.

I think a good way to figure out if I like convertibles or not is to buy a cheap one and drive it around for a summer. Since convertible season is on its way out where I live, I want to start thinking about what I could drive come next spring to finally make a decision on convertibles. The question is: Which convertible do I get?

The most obvious choice is a Mazda Miata, as Miatas are cheap and famously fun. Driving a Miata would also be a good way for me to figure out if Miatas really live up to the hype of being one of the internet’s favorite cars, as I have never driven one.

But Miata is almost too easy of a choice. What about a 1990s American pony car like a Camaro or a Mustang? The fourth-gen F-body Camaro/Thunderbird and the SN95 Mustang are now getting old enough to gain retro status, and I’ve always kind of liked the look of all three of those cars — as long as we’re talking pre-facelift SN95. I know "Miata is always the answer," but an LS1 V8 is the answer to every problem a Miata can’t solve.

What I’m really tempted to do is to get weird with it, as there are a lot of weird convertibles that are now available at temptingly low prices. I’m talking about the Geo Metro, the Buick Reatta, the Mercury Capri, the Chrysler TC by Maserati and so many more unsung heroes of the convertible world. I think something like a Renault Alliance convertible would be a lot more interesting than a dime-a-dozen Miata or Mustang — albeit a worse car in every other way.

Every time I think about convertibles, I’m drawn to the allure of an old British roadster like an MG B or a Triumph Spitfire. There are many reasons why buying an old British car would be a terrible idea, especially given my own experience with modern "British" cars. They’re hilariously unreliable and a pain to fix, and most of them aren’t fast. But they look so cool and have so much character that I’m not sure if any of those negatives even matter.

I would ask Doug what to buy, but I already know he’ll tell me to get a Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet, which I’m not ruling out. So I need your input, good people of Oversteer. Which cheap convertible should I buy to find out if I like convertibles?

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