Seven Things You Need To Consider Before Buying a Convertible

If you’re looking forward to owning a convertible car that’s worth paying for in this economy, then make sure you know these seven things. They will help you make the right decision. You'll also be happy with the acquisition for more than only a summer. After all, a good convertible can be used in the winter too!
2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet 7 photos
Photo: Gabriel Preda
Land Rover Range Rover Evoque CabrioletBMW 3 Series E46Volkswagen Beetle ConvertibleLamborhini Gallardo Spyder2016 Porsche 718 Boxter S2020 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet
Firstly, convertible cars need no introduction. Almost any roofless vehicle attracts attention, sparks admiration, or even makes people envious that they went with a boring SUV or, worse, a four-door coupe.

However, it’s important to know that convertibles are often found under different names. In your searches, you’ll most likely stumble upon spiders (or spyders), roadsters, and cabriolets. These terms used to mean different things, but manufacturers decided to toss them around as they saw fit.

Spyders, for example, were two-seater sports cars that had no weather protection. The 2022 Porsche 718 Spyder has a soft-top, even though it has this term in its name.

Thus, no matter what your preference is, you’re still going after a convertible. Just don’t allow salespersons to make you believe a vehicle is worth more than its real market value just because you get to hear various terms being thrown around.

A fun fact that should be known by more people today is what the term “cabriolet” originally meant. It was used to describe one-horse carriages that looked stylish and had only two wheels. These were used in big European cities from the 18th century and were often rented out to high-profile customers. Because French culture had a major influence on the U.S. language and the upper class during the years that came after the 1700s have passed, “cabriolet” eventually became “cab” and was used to describe carriages for hire. That’s why we call taxis “cabs” nowadays.

Know your type

Secondly, the new convertible you might want can be a two-seater, a four-seater, or even an SUV. The latter might be a niche offering, but things like the Range Rover Evoque Convertible and the Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet exist. Surprisingly, people buy them. It’s a good thing. Manufacturers should strive to make any customer happy. If that’s what you want, you should be able to have it.

Land Rover Range Rover Evoque Cabriolet
Photo: Land Rover Italia on YouTube
Convertible pickup trucks existed as well, but no manufacturer is making one today. Maybe they should give it a thought after we pass the incoming recession.

A two-seater convertible is more useful to people that want to have adventures with a close friend, a dear family member, or a loved one. These vehicles are also more enjoyable for people that aren’t very tall. If you’re looking for more comfort and legroom while driving in your topless car, then a four-seater might suit you better.

Thirdly, you’ll have to decide on what kind of roof your future convertible will have. They come as soft-tops and hardtops. While the first option might let you feel the air faster because it can quickly retract and won’t add too much weight to the car, it’ll most likely attract unwanted attention from mischievous people. A fabric roof is easier to cut through and it’ll require you to be more careful when there’s even a slight chance of freezing after a rain or a dewy morning. This type of convertible also allows for more noise inside the cabin.

On the other hand, if you’re going for a convertible with a metal roof, then you’ll feel more secure and you’ll enjoy a more silent ride when the top is up. Plus, it looks properly amazing when the mechanism is being deployed. But this comes with its downsides too. It eats into the trunk space and adds more weight to the car. Fortunately, modern convertibles manage to shave off as much weight as possible. Just make sure nothing’s rusty or working improperly. It’d be a good idea to verify the vehicle you want to buy at a certified service shop before paying for it.

Only the essentials

Fourthly, convertibles are not SUVs, grand tourers, or station wagons. There’s not much room for luggage. A four-seater might help you with some spare room in the back, but that’s it. On longer trips, you should pack lightly. You also can’t add a roof box.

Lamborhini Gallardo Spyder
Photo: Marcel Strau on Unsplash
Fifthly, the driving dynamics of a convertible aren’t equal to that of a coupe or any other type of car that hasn’t had its roof chopped off and replaced with moveable parts. Rigidity is reduced, so extra bracing is added in return. That leads to a weight increase. There are cars like the 2022 BMW M4 Competition Convertible that managed to keep the 0 to 62 mph (0 to 100 kph) times as close as possible, but the coupe will always be a better driving car. It’s up to you to decide if the open-air experience is worth that little bit of lost performance.

Sixthly, you should make sure the convertible you want is powered by a gas engine. Roofless cars generally have a stiffer suspension, and they allow for more noise inside the cabin. Add a diesel engine that purrs like a bear and sends vibrations into the vehicle, and it won’t be such an enjoyable experience. Yes, diesel is more efficient. However, when the top is down… Nothing beats that sweet, accentuated exhaust sound of a gas-powered straight-six or V8 engine!

In the end, remember that safety should remain your top priority. Fortunately, modern convertibles come with strengthened windscreen pillars and rollover bars that are instantly activated with pyrotechnics when the sensors detect the car might end up upside down. This, again, calls for a thorough check if you’re thinking about buying a used convertible. Don’t believe anyone without having a confirmation coming from an authorized third party.
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About the author: Florin Amariei
Florin Amariei profile photo

Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
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