Going Topless for $20k

1957 Triumph TR3

Convertibles in the summer can seem a little cliched, but you have to figure there is a reason for that. Ignore the stereotypes of midlife crises and over-the-top luxury, convertibles are a great choice for anyone looking for a fun and stylish yet practical ride. Convertibles are truly great to drive in the summer, and you’ll feel great doing it. The last few years have produced some amazing convertibles.

We visited this topic last year when we looked at Seven Stylish Summer Convertibles Under $10k. We found that there are still a lot of great choices at very affordable prices. And once we up the price point a bit, you can find some really amazing vehicles to have lot of fun in. Here’s our list of our favorite convertibles you can find under the $20,000 mark.

2009 Pontiac Solstice

10. We start our list with the Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky. Yes, they are the same car. The GM Kappa platform was GM’s take on a subcompact rear-wheel-drive platform for roadsters that debuted with the 2006 Solstice and the 2007 Sky. The models, which were very affordable to begin with, were available through 2010, meaning even the newest won’t strain your wallet too much. With some going as low as $10,000, they are the some of the best deals you can find for stylish convertibles. The Solstice/Sky is a great, affordable way to scratch that convertible itch.

2008 Audi TT

9. The first sports car Audi offered since the Quattro coupe, the Audi TT set the standard for subsequent sports-car design. The TT Roadster is an absolute beauty of a vehicle equipped with plenty of performance components. Finding an affordable one can be a little tricky for some of the newer models, but once you backtrack a few years, the prices drop into our price zone. The 2008 TT and earlier should easily be the right fit for our budget.

2011 Saab 9-3

8. Considered a bargain by many, the Saab 9-3 brings you everything you expect from a premium compact car, but with a more affordable price. The 9-3 convertibles can be found pretty cheap nowadays, with even 2012 models (the newest year of production) dropping below $20,000. Though Saab has gone through a few different parent companies in recent years, the quality of the 9-3 was maintained through those transitions. Any 9-3 that you find (with the exception of the more expensive Aero trims) should fall well under the $20k mark.

2008 BMW 3 Series

7. The BMW 3 Series has become a benchmark for (relatively) affordable luxury performance vehicles. Being among the cheaper parts of BMW’s fantastic model lineup, the 3 Series offers the perfect balance of luxury, comfort and power that earned the German manufacturer its reputation. Although 3 Series are cheaper than other BMW models, they can still come with a pretty big price tag. But you don’t have to go back too far to find some really good deals. 2008 models and earlier should drop below $20K.

2014 Ford Mustang

6. Well, no list would be complete without a Mustang somewhere on it, and it’s easy to understand why. Iconic in every sense of the word, the Ford Mustang convertible continues to bring the Mustang’s almost universal appeal through five decades now. It may be hard to find a GT convertible for under $20k, but you can easily find a V6 convertible from as late as 2014 for a more than reasonable price. Although it doesn’t have the crazy power of the GT, the V6 trims are nothing to laugh at. Spend less than $20,000 and get a Mustang and a convertible? Yeah, that sounds pretty good.

2006 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class

5. The Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class has always been a special car; it’s sleek, beautiful, powerful and quintessentially Mercedes-Benz. If you want (fast) German luxury, but aren’t eager to spend almost $44,000 for a new model, consider looking for a used one. If you look for SLKs from 2006 or earlier, prices are quite reasonable at about $20,000 or less. There’s no feeling quite like cruising in a Mercedes-Benz roadster and not breaking the bank to do it.

2006 Porsche Boxster

4. A new Porsche Boxster will set you back well over $50,000 right now. Fortunately, the Boxster has been on sale since 1997, and there are plenty of affordable Boxsters on the market. Go back to about 2006, and Boxster listings start to dip under $20,000, a great price considering how much car you get for the money. A 280-hp rear-engine German sportscar for under $20k? We’ll take it.

2012 Jeep Wrangler

3. Is there anything the Jeep Wrangler can’t do? Besides fording rivers, laughing at snow and generally dominating in all types of weather, the Wrangler is also able to drop the top and enjoy the best days of summer. Whether you prefer one with a removable hard top or easy-to-take-down soft top, there is a Wrangler out there for everyone. Not only do Wrangler owners get to enjoy the sunniest days the year has to offer without the buzzkill of a roof over their heads, they also get to enjoy those days almost anywhere they can imagine, thanks to the Wrangler’s unparalleled off-road abilities. Shoot back a few years in the listings, and you’ll find gobs of awesome Wranglers to be had for less than $20k.

2005 Toyota MR2 Spyder

2. There was a time when the Toyota MR2 Spyder was the whole package: good-looking, mid-engined and excellent in the corners, the MR2 Spyder was many a car enthusiast’s dream. Unfortunately, production ran only from 2000 to 2005, after which Toyota pulled the plug on the exciting little roadster. Packing an engine straight from the Toyota Corolla, the MR2 Spyder minimized weight to deliver its impressive performance. Although the car boasted only 138 horsepower, its 2,195-pound curb weight meant it could get going in a hurry and had enough spunk to really shine on twisty mountain roads. If you’re interested in an MR2 Spyder, be sure to take a careful look around. Toyota didn’t produce too many of them, and that rarity means prices can vary significantly.

2012 Mazda MX-5 Miata

1. The Mazda MX-5 Miata has earned a reputation for being one of the most fun-to-drive droptops on the road today. Based on the formula of the classic British roadster, the MX-5 Miata is a small, light, rear-drive roadster with an engine just powerful enough to give it serious thrill in the twisties, but not much more. Now on sale for 25 years, the Miata has eaten up the competition, outliving (and outselling) rivals such as the Toyota MR2 Spyder and Pontiac Solstice. With new models starting just below $24,000, there are plenty of great deals to be had on Miatas of all ages.

What is your favorite convertible ever?

-jharrington and zwaller

Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

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Used Pontiac Solstice
Used Saturn Sky
Used Audi TT
Used Saab 9-3
Used BMW 3 Series
Used Ford Mustang
Used Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class
Used Porsche Boxster
Used Jeep Wrangler
Used Toyota MR2 Spyder
Used Mazda MX-5 Miata

1 Comment

  1. Seriously? No Honda S2000? You may have to search a bit for an unmodified one, but reliability is excellent (even for a Honda) not to mention being a true driver’s car. It’s easily a better buy than a Solstice/Sky.

    The Wrangler has a ton of personality, and sure, it’s capable on a variety of terrain… but it really isn’t a great car to drive around roads in. Handling, ride quality, braking, noise and reliability are all pretty poor. Obviously, personality goes a long way, and most Wrangler owners love their Jeeps – but they come with a variety of costs.

    And if you simply want a convertible, pretty much everything else on the market is easier put the top up or down on than a Wrangler.

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