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Why Do So Many Convertible Owners Drive Around With the Top Up?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro September 2016

It's Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday, and that means it's time for your favorite weekly column here on Oversteer: Ask Doug. At Ask Doug you ask Doug a question, and then Doug reads through it, laughs at you and tells other automotive journalists how dumb you are.

No, no, I'm just kidding; that's not really how it works. Here's what actually happens: You send me an email with some automotive question at OversteerDoug@gmail.com or shoot me a message on my Facebook page, and each week I select one question to respond to. I also give the person asking a funny name, such as Pepper.

Anyway, this week's question comes from a reader I've named Abbott. Abbott writes:

Dear Mr. DeMuro,

Why do people who own convertibles never drive with the top down? I do live in Maryland (not the perfect climate for drop-tops), but I've traveled the whole country and rarely see convertibles with their tops down. It's been a lifelong dream of mine to own a roadster. I would drive roofless no matter the weather. I'd throw a baseball cap on in the summer and a wool hat on in the winter. What do owners of convertibles know that I don't know?

Sincerely,

Abbott

P.S.: If I see some white racing stripes closing in on me, I'll get out of the fast lane for you.

For those of you who don't want to read past the second sentence because Abbott has admitted he's from Maryland -- home of people who believe that they personally own the passing lane and will not move out of it for any reason, unless they've discovered that they are 19 feet from their exit -- allow me to sum up his question for you: Why do so many convertible owners drive around with the top up, even on nice days?

This is an excellent question, Abbott, because I've often wondered the same thing. Why do people spend so much extra money on a convertible just to cruise around with the top up? If you want to exist in a space with a roof, you can just drive a normal car. Or sit in your living room. Isn't the whole point of owning a convertible to get out there, to be one with nature, to find yourself in a place where you could get stung by a bee while sitting at a traffic light?

I especially wonder about this because I went from having convertible vehicles, back when I worked for Porsche and had company cars, to not having convertible vehicles, which is the situation I find myself in today. These days, the best I can do is open my sunroof to soak up the rays. The experience is not the same. I still have not been stung by a bee.

So why do these people take their privilege for granted? Shouldn't they be yelled at? Lambasted? Angrily called out on neighborhood Facebook pages, the kind where people devote 800 posts to a neighborhood prowler only to find out it's the newspaper-delivery man?

Not quite. There are a few legitimate reasons why people drive around with the top up.

One is the heat. As much as I hate to admit it, even I used to keep my top up on the very hottest summer days; the summer days where you'd get a sunburn when you walked outside to get your mail. On these days, I find it hard to blame people who keep their convertible tops firmly in place.

Another reason some people don't put the top down: because the top is broken. This, I suspect, is the reason why we see top-up convertibles more frequently than you might expect. As convertible vehicles age, the top mechanisms wear out, the 47 motors that move the 4,217 intricate top parts fail, and then the whole thing doesn't work anymore unless you want to pay $3,800 for a new top. So people stop putting down the top. Instead, they put a giant piece of duct tape over the "roof" button so nobody attempts to put down the top and potentially cause further damage to the Right Rear Hippocampus Aileron Motor (replacement cost: $850).

Then, of course, there are the other, less likely reasons they don't put the top down. They don't want to mess up their hair. They don't want to talk to people at stoplights. They've borrowed the car, and they don't want to deal with it. They don't realize they own a convertible. They actually have a landau top, and you've been fooled into thinking it goes down. They are worried about chemtrails.

Whatever the reason, Abbott, rest assured that I completely agree with you, and I absolutely would always put down my top at every possible opportunity. Even at the risk of damaging the Right Rear Hippocampus Aileron Motor.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Why Do So Many Convertible Owners Drive Around With the Top Up? - Autotrader