Stop Moaning, Find a Baseball Cap, and Buy a Convertible
Here’s what you do.
You buy a convertible.
It leaks like a colander, you never put the top down, your friends, family, they assume you’re planning on joining the circus. It won’t go around a corner because it’s busy doing its best Gumby impression. It’s about as useful as a salt shaker on a snowy road, and above all, all you hear is the constant buffeting of the wind against your fragile eardrums.
Perhaps you have caught on, buying a convertible is not like this. In fact, any self respecting ‘car person’ (whatever that actually means (unless, of course, you are shaped like a car and enjoy things like synthetic lubrication and 93 unleaded)) has it in there interest to own one. Not now, maybe not in a few years, but sometime.
The convertible is a compromise. Hardcore, track day enthusiasts will tell you, “Well you can’t take that thing to this coned up parking lot! It will be like a Spaniel’s ear with four wheels!”
Is cowl shake a real thing? Yes, sir. You certainly feel it. Hitting a series of small, staccato imperfections, you will feel, as it is described, a shake. If you’re going around a corner, and you hit this series of washboards, will the car suddenly decide, “Well then, had enough of this driving on the road business,” and flip off into a nearby field, you certainly dying in a heinous accident?
No. Well… no.
The fact of the matter is, if your coupe, SPORTS oriented two-door was derived from a sedan, it isn’t much more rigid than the convertible. Sure, Jerry Lee Lewis won’t be playing on the radio, but the sedan variants of these cars are the most rigid by leaps and bounds.
This is, of course, assuming you bought a convertible with the intent of taking it to said parking lot with the aforementioned cones. Unless you bought a Miata, (because you don’t have a choice) this probably isn’t the case. If you bought it as a DD, which, don’t worry, I’ll talk you into, Jerry Lee Lewis won’t be there, and you won’t have to hear any raucous piano. Also, hes eighty-three.
If what you want, which is what I think we all want, is connection, then boy am I about to be your personal Billy Mays. A convertible will connect you to not only the road, but all of the things you never realized you were missing about driving.
Let’s cut to the chase.
The sound is better. Not just from the engine, but everything around you. Putting the top down is like buying an expensive set of headphones. The sort that allows you to hear the subtleties of music you never realized were there. The kind of thing that, if the Earth was a musician, he/she (or a really big turtle– depends who you ask) would endlessly complain about their philistine listeners not hearing. The engine noise is also louder, it’s of a sweeter quality, and you’ll hear things you haven’t heard before.
I am a firm believer that even ‘non car people’, can be given a taste of the righteous cause with just a few seconds worth of noisy acceleration through a tunnel or underpass. I’ve done it before. At 7900 RPM, in a tunnel, with the top down, even the most plain, boiled hot dog sort of people get it.
The opposite is also true. Sometimes you will be surprised to find just how quiet some places actually are.
The visibility is perfect. Ever complained about the tree trunk pillars that find their place in most new cars? In a convertible, there is no deep dark forest surrounding you. With the top down, you will no longer be searching around, frightened with a flashlight inside a cave-inspired interior. Looking in the rear view mirror, everything is there for you to see.
The sensations you get, not just of the road, are also better. Driving at night (which is arguably the best time for a convertible), you will suddenly be aware of the subtle changes in temperature. Watch as you feel, oh, just slightly cooler. Your car’s thermometer tells you that, yes, you are right. You will think, “Ah, I am truly attuned with the climate and nature.”
The smells are more evident as well. Driving through a rural area, fresh scents of foliage, cool water flowing, and animal feces will waft themselves about your nostrils. Driving by a roadside eatery you will get notes of food, beer– really it’s like being a coffee snob, and describing this oh just delectable roast you just found at a quiet little corner store.
Not only will you smell more with the top down, you’ll smell less with the top up. Second hand convertibles don’t tend to smell as much like the previous owner. It doesn’t ever get the chance to marinate in the previous owner’s filth, like the worn out, fund-run t-shirt you sleep in. This is of course because every weekend the car has a chance to completely air out, like being on a clothes line.
This all coalesces into my final point. I think everybody, even the people who write the screenplays for things like car insurance and chewing gum commercials, understand.
Going for a drive with the top down is an event.
When you have a regular car, and you tell somebody that you want to ‘go for a drive’, unless they know you’re a car person, they probably assume you want to talk about something, or that you did something, or they’re in trouble.
In a convertible, the person typically just says, “Yes.”
Make a nice day into a better one. Turn a temperate summer night into something interesting. Listen to the leaves in the trees rusting on a cool autumn morning. Take that boring old zucchini and make it into an exciting vegetable pasta your kids will love!
Are there drawbacks? Yes.
To quote Bill Burr, when you have a convertible, you’re kind of like the guy that owns a boat.
You’re out on Sunday scraping barnacles off the thing, you should probably get a cover for it, and everyone wants a ride. When you don’t have the top down, when you spend a weekend not on the boat, people ask you why. “Hey man why aren’t you out on the sound today?” They don’t care if you are or not– they want to go. This may be a little pestering.
Your top may leak, mine is nearly twenty years old and does not, but I can’t speak for everyone.
There’s little rips in my headliner. They bother me. It happens.
It’s louder on the highway with the top up or down. Your girlfriend will forget a hair tie, you’ll be guilted into giving her your hat, and you’ll be squinting like Clint Eastwood in Fistful of Dollars.
It’s heavier, probably slower, and gets slightly worse fuel economy than it’s coupe counterpart.
If you’re the type to make spreadsheets about zero-to-sixty times, analyze every detail of a probable car purchase with a microscope, and would be ashamedly embarrassed when you see the coupe version of your car on the road…
Put the top down.
I assure you, you will not regret it.