Are Convertibles Dying?

Toyota_Camry_Solara

On Interstate 90, somewhere between Seattle and Spokane, I passed a slow moving convertible that travelled leisurely in the right lane.

I glanced at the car, and the driver, as I sped by and made a quick comment to my travel partner.

“Convertibles should not be front-wheel drive,” I said.

The car, a red Toyota Camry Solara, was driven by an older woman with short graying hair.

My friend, without missing a beat, said, “I know. But then what would people like her drive?”

An excellent point. She continued, “Those are cruising cars. Not much for driving fun, just a way for regular people to get some wind in their hair.”

I put the Solara, the Chrysler Sebring convertible and the PT Cruiser convertible in the same category, that being: Pointless. In my humble opinion, a convertible should be rear-wheel drive and have some sense of sexiness to it. A convertible should not look like the log people ride in at theme park water attractions.

The good news is those cars aren’t made new anymore. There are plenty, however, available on the used market. Actually, new convertibles seem to be a dying breed. Automotive News says a lack of new convertible cars is reducing sales, which seems like a pretty obvious conclusion. Only about one percent of new vehicles registered in the U.S. last year were droptops compared to 2006, when the number was two percent.

More convertibles are coming, which should push new sales numbers in a positive direction. A Scion FR-S convertible is on the way, a new Mazda MX-5 Miata is being developed along with a new Alfa Romeo roadster and there are new versions of the MINI Cooper, BMW 4 Series and Chevy Corvette coming up.

All this to say, maybe convertibles were only dying because there were so many ugly front-wheel-drive ones out there. The current used market has plenty of fun convertibles too, but as more new ones come out, more exciting used convertibles won’t be far behind.

What used convertible would you buy right now? Front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive?

-tgriffith

Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Toyota Camry Solara
Used Chrysler Sebring
Used PT Cruiser
Used Scion FR-S
Used Mazda MX-5 Miata
Used MINI Cooper
Used Chevrolet Corvette

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  1. Paul
    September 17th, 2013 at 20:16 | #1

    Front wheel drive is a must here in Canada! I love my Eclipse Spyder!

  2. Randy
    July 11th, 2013 at 07:38 | #2

    Actually, front wheel drive cars make better convertibles because the front weight bias and lack of rear driveline components makes it easier to strengthen the chassis (to prevent cowl shake) and allows more room for top components.
    The main reason convertibles are less common now are the crash testing and safety certification processes that make it even more expensive to produce a convertible, and since sales tend to be low, prices are quite high.
    I love my Spyder convertible. The top went down when I took it out of storage and will stay down all summer.

  3. tgriffith
    July 9th, 2013 at 10:20 | #3

    There’s not much better than cars that are adored by their owners. Good call on the G6 Steve, and enjoy the Cruiser, Jac!

  4. Steve Cano
    July 9th, 2013 at 10:09 | #4

    I live in the Chicago burbs the snow hits us hard so front wheel drive is the way to go rear wheel drive spins out to often Convertibles are not practical vehicals here unless you can drive them in the winter and the salt used on the roads is not good for a rag top My brother bought a Pontiac G6 which has a retractable convertible top and front wheel drive PERFECT car for all year driving That Pontiac would be my next car

  5. July 9th, 2013 at 09:42 | #5

    I own a red 2006 PT Cruiser ragtop and I LOVE IT! It is my daily driver but since I take great pride in it, I constantly get complements on how nice it looks.

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