£20941, that is the average price of a new convertible on sale in the UK, when comparing 8 small to mid sized cars. I worked this out after learning that Vauxhalls new Cascada convertible (not a tribute to the mid noughties euro dance act) is going to cost from £23995. I do not know about you but that seems like an awful lot of money for a convertible Astra. Surly there are some second hand alternatives around for a lot, lot less money to enjoy this summer?
And don’t think I am just going to recommend a Fiat 500C or Citroen DS3 Cabrio and be done with it ,those two cars still cost almost £3000 over their fixed roof equivalents spec for spec making them £13000 and £15000 respectively. A quick internet search reveals that the three grand used to chop of their roofs could buy you a rather tasty BMW 320ci or even 330ci cabriolet and wouldn’t you rather have one of those instead?
Ok fair enough maybe you are not a BMW person? Maybe you prefer to get your open air thrills from something slightly smaller, nimbler maybe? Well a new Mazda MX5, the quintessential roadster, starts at a pricey £18500. But an old one which is essentially exactly the same principle, little petrol engine at the front, fabric roof in the middle, drive at the back can cost from as little as £1000 for a good one. Plus the early ones have pop up headlights and you cannot get cooler than that.
Still not bowled over by my suggestions? Concerned about security and fancy a hard top for the 360 days of rain and misery? You’d be forgiven to think your only options are the obscenely expensive Volkswagen Eos and Mercedes SLK costing from £26000 and £30000 respectively. But before you get the cheque book out remember both these cars are now more than one generation old and in the Eos’s case the new car is essentially the same as the old one, the only difference being VW’s new nose and tail have been grafted on. Well looked after original Eos’s can cost from £6000, less than half the cost of a new one. And the SLK, the first modern folding hard top, prices for those start at a very reasonable £1800 which is almost 30 times cheaper than the cost of a brand new SLK 55 AMG.
Other more luxury convertibles can also be bought on a budget, the bigger Mercedes CLK convertible, Audi A4 cabriolet and even the wonderful Porsche Boxter can be had for under £10000. Each one delivers refinement, class and in the case of the Porsche one of the best driving experiences on the planet. And for the frugal thinkers out there the A4 can be had with a diesel engine, not to mention has seating for four fully grown adults, as does the CLK.
Before I leave you to peruse the classifieds, remember convertibles tend to be peoples weekend cars, so many are well looked after. But when buying always make sure there’s service history and evidence that the cars been cared for. You don’t want to end up with soggy trousers the first time it rains and you realise there is a gaffer taped hole in the roof.
A convertible, the notion that you pay more money for technically speaking, less car, is always a strange thing to comprehend. So why pay more than is strictly necessary? If you want a nice cheap convertible this summer then have a look at some of the second hand gems I’ve pointed out and spend your savings on fuel for all those sea side jaunts instead.