Springing Into Another List of Convertibles

Ragtops in a row

Repetition inspires varied emotions here in New England. Pats fans nearly lost their minds in February, when Tom Brady and company managed to mount an insane comeback to win another Super Bowl. But we were much less happy about the blizzard last Saturday, exactly 20 years after an even bigger April Fools’ Day snowstorm and one brief year after Snowmageddon. Happily, our forecast calls for 60 degrees and sunshine on Tuesday, when we’ll head to the Javits Convention Center in NYC to cover the New York International Auto Show.

We visited the Detroit Auto Show in January, so have already seen some fantastic 2018s, but we can’t wait to meet the new Dodge Demon, Buick Regal, Volvo XC60, Subaru Crosstrek, and Audi RS3, among others. We’ll spare ourselves hours of traffic on I-95 by taking the train to get there and back, but if that weather forecast proves accurate, I know my team and I will be looking forward to top-down driving from the Acela.

Tops will drop at the first opportunity in most places that have long, cold winters, and because we find even imagining top-down driving incredibly therapeutic, we’ve put together another list of great used convertibles for you this week. We’ve published a few of these over the years, so please don’t hold it against us if we missed your favorite, but if you can confidently recommend a great used cabriolet we missed, please tell us about it. (And yes, next week we’ll tell you about what we see at the auto show.)

2006 Pontiac Solstice

We’ll start with a convertible that you can’t buy new anymore. Pontiac was retired by General Motors in 2010 and produced only 20 examples that last year, but the Pontiac Solstice was one of the last new models from Pontiac, which gives it value to collectors. But collectors will likely focus on the rare GXP Coupe version, which has a targa roof instead of a convertible top. The roadster featured a 2.4-liter, 177-hp inline four the first two years, but its output dropped to 173 hp in 2008. The Solstice roadster looks fantastic, and while it can’t out-handle a Miata and you’ll have to get out to drop or raise the top, it does have a little more power. Best of all, first-year versions are available at an average price of a hair over $9K.

2015 Ford Mustang

Today’s sixth-generation Ford Mustangs clearly recall the first generation, rather than the gas-crisis-inspired Mustang II or Vanilla Ice’s favorite, the Fox-body Mustangs of the ‘80s. Having been in uninterrupted production since its debut and offered with a range of engines and features, a wide variety of convertible fans should be able to find a Mustang to suit their tastes and budget. And if a used convertible Mustang can heighten all your senses while keeping you at peace in the twisties, as the 2017 did for Chris Wardlaw, we wish you the best of luck finding yourself one quickly. Our 2015 listings average around $27K and include the new independent rear suspension, but you can find plenty of less-experienced versions at lower prices.

2013 Chevrolet Corvette

If you like American convertibles but want something faster and more aggressive and won’t need to chauffeur kids, a used Chevrolet Corvette convertible might be worth a look. The Corvette is another American icon that’s been produced in multiple body styles and with a variety of powertrains, but they all look more ready for a track outing than a Mustang. The Corvette got a big redesign for 2014, and if you’ve got $60K to spend, you could end up with a current seventh-generation version, which Aaron Cole calls the best American sports car on the road. Sixth-gen versions were sold from 2005 through 2013, and while they’re not as capable, they will still be plenty of fun, and while 2013s average $49K, 2005s average just over half that.

2010 Volkswagen Eos

We want this list to include a little something for car fans of all types, and while Dieselgate put a huge stain on VW’s stateside reputation, the company has built a bunch of amazing cars and still has huge fans here. The Volkswagen Eos convertible, produced from 2007 through 2016, was never a big hit with Americans, probably because it cost more but doesn’t look as good as some alternatives from the Big Three. But you’ll have to look awfully hard to find another convertible with an integrated sunroof (?), and while the Eos does not have a lot of grunt, it drives like a German car, and our used car listings include plenty available for less than $20K, with used 2010s averaging under $15K.

2010 Audi A5

Folks who prefer German cars that have a little more to spend might want to consider an Audi A5 Cabriolet. Added to the A5 lineup in 2010, the A5 Cabriolet has a simple cloth roof rather than a hardtop, but the car will do all the work for you, and a soft roof takes less cargo space, too. A 2.0-liter turbo putting out 211 hp or a 3.2-liter, 265-hp V6 delivers power to the front or all four wheels via Audi’s legendary Quattro system, so the A5 can absolutely deliver driving excitement. And Audi interiors are beautiful, so you’ll be able to enjoy the A5 when the roof’s up, too. Our 2010 A5 Cabriolet listings have an average price of under $17K, but be warned that more recent examples can get much higher.

2013 BMW 3 Series

Yes, its Z3 is a blast, but BMW’s 3 Series built and maintains the company’s reputation as the maker of ultimate driving machines. The first convertible 3 Series arrived in the U.S. in 1987 with a 2.5-liter inline six that produced 168 horsepower. By 2013, the convertible was offered in multiple versions with a 3.0-liter inline six that ranged from 230 to 320 hp. With more than 25 model years to choose from and more recent years offering multiple powertrains, a used convertible BMW 3 Series can meet a wide range of budgetary and driving-excitement needs. Convertibles became part of BMW’s 4 Series lineup in 2014, but 2013 BMW 3 Series convertibles average under $23K, and you can find plenty of more-experienced examples for less.

2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Mercedes-Benz has always liked doing things differently, including car tops. The iconic 300 SL’s gull-wing doors were the first of their type and part of why original examples in decent shape usually command a seven-figure price. Mercedes-Benz E-Class convertibles have been offered since 1994, with engines ranging from a 3.2-liter inline six rated at 217 hp to a 4.7-liter, 402-hp V8. Like the 3 Series, the E-Class has been around a long time and has grown to include a variety of body styles and multiple engines, which means shoppers should be able to find a wide range of range of power and price points. Our 2011 E-Class cabriolets listings average just under $21,500, but again, many older versions with more miles will cost less.

2014 MINI Cooper

Drivers with a sense of style and humor might find a MINI Cooper suits them better than a German car, despite MINI now being a division of BMW. The first convertible MINI Cooper arrived with a fully automatic top in 2005, and the second generation arrived in 2009 with the “Openometer,” which monitors the amount of time spent driving the car with the top open. The new MINIs are definitely more fun and distinctive than practical, and they are small enough that some may not enjoy driving one alongside 18-wheelers. But if you like small, funky convertibles and want a plate-size speedometer in the middle of your dashboard, a MINI is your only option. The latest generation arrived for 2014, and listings from that year average $18,300.

2012 FIAT 500

Chrysler’s acquisition by Fiat has returned a couple of classic Italian convertibles to the market. The 124 Spider returned atop the Miata’s platform just this year, but the subcompact Fiat 500 has been sold here since 2008. Larger and crossover versions have arrived since then, but the original 500 is the only one available in convertible form. The 500 will likely appeal to some of the same folks who appreciate the MINI Cooper’s style and quirkiness, but it will cost significantly less. It was also offered in a wide range of fashionable colors with a variety of appearance packages, so you should be able to find some very distinctive examples, but it’s tiny, so can also be unnerving on the highway. The good news? Listings for 2012s average under $8,500.

2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

The Alfa Romeo 4C is also small and Italian, but it’s an altogether different car. More so than any car on this list with the possible exception of the Corvette, the 4C looks like it was built to race. And because it arrived in 2015, used examples will be hard to find and expensive. But if you want your convertible to offer enough driving excitement to put you on the edge of your seat and you have plenty to spend, the 4C delivers. You’ll have to work a bit to get yourself into the 4C unless you’re tiny, and it doesn’t include much in the way of standard features. It’s also noisy, but that’s because its 1.7-liter inline four is in the middle of the car. That engine’s 237 hp wouldn’t sound like much fun unless you knew the 4C weighs less than 2,500 pounds, which at least makes its non-power steering less difficult to manage. The few 2015s on our site cost an average of $65K and don’t include a manual or air conditioning, but they would be a hoot on back roads, and did you see that photo?

Which is your favorite used convertible, and why?

-Steve Halloran

Find New, Certified Pre-Owned Cars, and Used Cars in your area at CarGurus.

Shopping for a ragtop this weekend?
Bring along CarGurus’ mobile app to help check prices, find good deals, and research cars on your smartphone.

Used Pontiac Solstice
Used Ford Mustang
Used Chevrolet Corvette
Used Volkswagen Eos
Used Audi A5
Used BMW 3 Series
Used Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Used MINI Cooper
Used FIAT 500
Used Alfa Romeo 4C

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