With the weather warming up, now is a great time to buy a convertible-but have you seen the prices of new droptops?
Even the cheapest ones are priced well north of $25,000. The good news: Shop carefully, and you can find a great deal on a used ragtop. Here are 10 of our favorite bargain convertibles.
OK, we realize that "affordable" and "BMW" aren't often used in the same sentence, but the Z3 really does belong on this list. Built between 1995 and 2002 before being replaced by the Z4, it's still a classy BMW, with a lovely straight-six engine and great steering. Higher-mileage examples are easy to find for under $10,000, and there are plenty of low milers selling for less than $15k.
Shop for your BMW Z3 here.
New Camaro convertibles are expensive, and so are classic Camaros-but there are good buys to be found in the great middle ground. We've found a lot of fourth-generation (1993-2002) Camaro convertibles selling in the $3,500 to $7,000 range, with more powerful models (SS, Z28) going for up to $15,000-still a bargain compared to the cost of a new one. These cars are big, fast and fun and make great summer cruisers.
Shop for your Chevrolet Camaro Convertible here.
Chrysler 200 and Sebring
These cars were the darlings of the rental fleet, and for a number of reasons-not all of them good-they are cheap to buy. 2006-and-earlier Sebrings are arguably the best of the bunch; they have roomy back seats and decent driving dynamics, though you'll likely be buying a high-mileage example that will probably need some TLC. That said, you can buy the older Sebrings for $3,000 or less. The 2008 Sebring (later renamed 200; there was no convertible in 2007) was a bit dire, though 2011-and-later cars are greatly improved. The optional retractable hardtop adds a lot of complexity, though it does keep the weather out. Expect to pay between $5,000 and $12,000 depending on model year, condition, and roof type.
Shop for your Chrysler Sebring convertible here.
Ford Mustang Convertible
Once again, the law of supply and demand favors Mustang convertible buyers; these cars were popular both with retail buyers and rental fleets, and quantity drives down price. There are plenty of choices here: Older Mustangs with smaller engines can be had for less than $5,000, while a $15,000 budget gets you newer V8-powered cars. If you're interested in a classic Mustang of the 1960s, you'll probably have to up your budget to $25k for clean turn-key example-but that's still way less than a brand new convertible.
Shop for your Ford Mustang Convertible for sale here.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata is one of America's favorite roadsters, and with more than 25 years of production, there are plenty of used examples to choose from. You'll find lots of first-generation Miatas selling for $6,500 or less, while second-generation cars tend to trade in the $10,000 to $20,000 range. Miatas are very reliable cars, so don't be afraid of buying a high-mileage example, but do look out for cars that have been heavily modified, raced or abused.
Shop for your Mazda Miata here.
Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
Many people have their doubts about how long Mitsubishi will stay in the United States, but the company's troubles are good news for convertible buyers, because the Eclipse Spyder is a good, reliable convertible that you can buy very cheap. The Eclipse Spyder is a good-looking car that's also good fun to drive, especially the V6-powered GT models. Though there aren't a lot of these cars for sale, most have asking prices in the range of $3,500 to $10,000.
Shop for your Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder here.
MG MGB and Midget
And now for something completely different! These little British roadsters were popular in the 1970s, but problems with rust and reliability culled the herd significantly. Those that are still around seem to be in pretty decent shape, and they are nice and cheap: Runners can be found in the $3,000 to $10,000 range, with a few nicely restored low-mileage examples breaking the $15,000 barrier. Remember, you're dealing with a 40-year-old British car, so plan to invest time and money in TLC, but we think most owners will agree that the rewards of driving an MG make them worth the effort.
Find an MG for sale here.
Pontiac Solstice / Saturn Sky
The Solstice and Sky were supposed to be America's answer to the Miata, but several factors-including difficult-to-use top and limited storage space-severely curtailed their appeal. The advantage for used-car buyers is that there are a lot of clean, low-mileage examples on the market in the $5,000 to $15,000 range. Turbocharged versions (Sky Red Line and Solstice GXP) can break the $20,000 barrier, but the extra power makes them a lot of fun to drive. And the fact that both the Pontiac and Saturn brands are now part of automotive history gives these cars good potential as future collectibles.
Shop for your Saturn Sky here.
General Motors shuttered the Saab division a long time ago, which has had a devastating effect on the resale value of the Saab 9-3. This is a shame, as it's a great car with a punchy engine and a decent level of luxury. Under the skin, the 9-3 is related to some of GM's European Opel models, so parts are still around (though they could get scarce as the cars age). All these factors translate to a bargain-9-3 convertibles sell in the $3,000 to $10,000 range, with several good examples priced under $5,000.
Find a Saab 9-3 for sale here.
Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet
The Beetle makes a wonderful convertible, with a big top that opens wide to let in lots of sunshine. They're good fun to drive and easy to park, and older diesel models are incredibly fuel efficient (and cheap, their resale values impacted by the emissions scandal, which doesn't affect most of them). Beetle build quality isn't the best, and service at VW dealerships can be expensive, so these cars are best suited to do-it-yourselfers or those who have a good relationship with a trusted mechanic. But they are inexpensive: We've seen lots of them in the $3,000 to $8,000 range.
Shop for your Volkswagen Beetle Convertible here.
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