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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?

MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
Here’s Why the Original Tesla Roadster Was a Total Failure
Here’s Why the Pagani Huayra Is Worth $3 Million
Which Cars Do Doug DeMuro and Tyler Hoover Want to Own Most?

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21 COMMENTS

  1. I just bought a convertible, so I was recently mulling over this same question. I ended up with a 5-speed, Alpine white over black, 1990 Porsche 944 S2 Cabriolet for the following reasons: 
    1. It’s a Porsche, and 944s are still affordable but appreciating. 
    2. With less than 2,500 drop-top 944s sold in the US, it (unlike the Boxster) checks the weird/rare boxes. 
    3. The 944 was one of the best handling cars of its time. 
    4. S2 Cabriolets have the 3.0L engine, which is torquey and linear. 
    5. It requires a bit of tinkering… but not too much. 🙂 
  2. I think if you get a weird car, you are going to find out if you like that weird car.  If you want to find out if you like convertibles, get a “regular” car.  Specifically, get a BMW 330ci.  A fifth gen mustang would also be acceptable.

    • I always bought a E46 BMW  330CI but someone bought it before I could. Would’ve been a fun ride… IF the drop top even works.

  3. How about an Eclipse Spyder? Or a Toyota MR2 Spyder, the early 00s one?

    Or just get a Boxster, but I’m not sure if that qualifies as cheap.
    • I have a 97 Eclipse Spyder GS-T, it was cheap, especially for what you’re getting, surprisingly tight for a 90’s convertible makes a really good tuning platform if that’s what you’re into and I love it. It was my first convertible

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