Topless!

Mazda MX-5

It’s spring, and so a young woman’s fancy naturally turns to thoughts of…convertibles! And even though I’m not as young as I once was, the good news is that there are quite a few new, redesigned, and just generally super-cool convertibles out there for me to drool over.

My convertible-lust was first piqued by Royal Ford’s review of the redesigned Mazda Miata MX-5 in last week’s Boston Globe. I hadn’t seen the new Miata’s (optional) hardtop in action, and though it looks a bit weird (Ford describes it as a “Goldbergesque” contraption), it appears to work smoothly and make this zippy, sporty little convertible a year-round option for those of us who live in the Snow Zone. Best of all, the price for the most tricked-out MX-5, with all the options, is around $26,000: not super-cheap, but not bank-busting for what you get.

So this got me thinking. What other affordable convertible options are out there right now? Gen-Xers like me remember the dark, practically convertible-less days before the original Mazda Miata, when people who longed for the wind in their hair were doomed to spend their last dime on a pricey import or to nurse a vintage classic to health (again, often at the cost of that last dime).

Well, there’s some good news. Of course, if you’ve been lucky in the lottery/hedge fund/inheritance sweepstakes, the BMW Z4 Roadster or the Porsche Boxster are always an option. But for those of us trying to find top-down thrills on a budget, there are definitely some lower-priced choices. Even if we limit our options to American cars, there’s a wealth of good picks!

Pontiac’s G6 Convertible, alas, is still a work-in-progress. But the Pontiac Solstice, with a base price under $23,000, is already attracting a following. You’ll find Solstice owners celebrating their cool cars at SolsticeForum.com, with galleries of the sporty little roadster in action. Oh, it’s cute. And has plenty of power, to boot.

Pontiac Solstice

GM’s best-known convertibles, the Dodge Viper and Chevrolet Corvette, are fantastic cars, but sadly out of our price range. But if you want more oomph than the Solstice, but still want to keep your sticker under $30,000, be sure to check out the Saturn Sky, which reviewer Aaron Robinson called “a Corvette junior petite”.

Now, when you’re talking about affordable convertibles, you’ve got to mention the Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible. With a base price under $20,000 (!) it’s definitely the buy. Not everyone loves the Cruiser’s retro-styling, but I think the convertible version is probably the most attractive. And unlike the roadster-type convertibles, the Cruiser works for families.

Chrysler PT Cruiser Convertible

Chrysler’s also got the Sebring and Crossfire, both with sticker prices under $30,000; let’s hope that the new management continues to offer this range of selections for convertible fans.

And what about Ford? Well, they have only one convertible, but heavens, it’s a beauty. The 2007 Ford Mustang, priced in the mid-twenties for the base model, is the original pony car. And the folks at Ford have had the good sense not to mess too much with Carroll Shelby’s vision for the ‘Stang. This year’s offerings (which include the Shelby GT500, successor to the Cobra, which I’ve already spotlighted here) are looking good, and reviewers and drivers alike are singing their praises. So what are any of us waiting for?

Ford Mustang Convertible

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