CHEAP CONVERTIBLES THAT YOU CAN RESELL AFTER SUMMER WITHOUT LOOSING MONE
Days are getting longer, swooping season is here and flowers are blooming. That means that summer is coming!
It looks like this year’s holidays will be spent within our borders. Whether it’ll for a weekend getaway or for 2 weeks in a caravan park, why not getting a convertible to get there? The brits do it, and the coast of Essex does not look anything like Blairgowrie!
But I hear you. Open top cars are expensive. The economy is threatened by C-19 and, you know, depreciation, storage, the kids…
But what if you could buy a perfectly functional and cool convertible car for less than 10 grand and then, when the days start getting shorter again, being able to sell it to someone else for basically the same money you spent, give or take a few bucks?
Is there such a thing as an affordable, practical, reliable set of wheels that you can drive with the sky as a ceiling (and possibly ferry the whole family with)?
As it turns out, there are quite a few options available on the Australian used cars market.
Not everyone can afford a Morgan. Photo by editor
Some of these options, it must be said, can be atrociously bad ideas. And when you think bad idea and convertible, the Peugeot 307 CC springs to mind. Just no. Coupe-Cabriolet cars are to be avoided as a principle, but this (and the Ford Focus counterpart) are really a no-no. The Holden Astra Twintop comes in the same league as these two. Just NO.
Other options that will drill a big hole in your wallet would be the Mercedes CLK, the Audi A4 Cabriolet and almost any BMW 3-Series Cabrio you can find. Yes, you can buy these cars for less than 10 grand. But it will be a hi-mileage car with a less than honourable service history. Also, you want something that can be serviced with reasonable expense before leaving for Merimbula, so let’s get rid of all the German cars. Goodbye Beetle, goodbye Eos, goodbye SLK.
There are, though, two German cars that, if well maintained and driven, cannot only offer you a summer of enjoyable driving and cool look, but actually make you some money when it’s time to sell! Specifically, the original Audi TT and the original, 1.9 BMW Z3. You can buy a TT with less than 150.000 km for 10k and spare some change. Second hand value for the TT is destined to grow as the car enters the “modern classic” market with its striking look and the generic good quality of the ensemble. The Z3 can be a bit more of a gamble (and examples for less than 10big are scarce and with generous odometers) but the Z3 will reward you with super cool look and the typical BMW driving pleasure. Just steer well away from autobox examples!
What else? If you like American cars your choice is going to be very limited. You can either get a Chrysler Sebring or a Jeep Wrangler. Now, if you fancy the Sebring please leave this page now. Despite been named after the historic Sebring racetrack in Florida, this car is an embarrassing lump of metal and a total waste of money. The Wrangler, on the other hand, can be an option, if you can survive the appalling driving position and the tragic quality of the trims. At least the Wrangler has a reputation for carefree topless rides!
What’s left? Well, if you are planning a romantic getaway with no kids and no dog bigger than a Bichon, the market offers quite a few open top superminis. We need to cross off straight away the Holden Tigra (too many issues with the 1.8 engine) and the Citroen C3 Pluriel, for obvious reasons related to decency, design, self-esteem and practicality. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE French quirky cars, I have one in fact. But the C3 Pluriel is just too much!
There is a convertible for everyone. Photo by Tim Garnett @finedriving
Speaking of French cars, the Peugeot 206 CC is definitely one of the three options you have if you’re looking for a tiny convertible. The 206 drives well, looks good, parts are easy to find and it’s currently sitting at the bottom of the depreciation curve, so it can’t make you money but it will not loose you cash either. On the same league, and for the same reasons, the Mitsubishi Colt and the Mini Cooper Cabrio are good options for a small, inexpensive, cool open top options.
If all you care about is driving pleasure and you want to blast the Great Ocean Road within speed limits but feeling like Daniel Ricciardo, there are cars for you too! Mg F (or TF) and Toyota Mr2 will provide the right thrill for the right price (but you’ll have to leave your luggage home!). Also, these cars are entering a vaguely collectible status, so they can give back when it’ll time to sell. If you are not brave enough for a mid-engine car, the Alfa Spider and the Peugeot 306 Cabriolet will provide great thrill, striking colours and a good resell market.
But what if all you care is to take the whole family to that lovely chalet you booked in Mallacoota and have a nice lovely drive there? What if you want power, style, comfort, decent luggage capacity and room for 4 people with actual legs?
Surprisingly, you’ll have to look for what is possibly the least expected nation for producing a good convertible car: Sweden!
You will be able to buy a reasonable-mileage Saab 9-3 or Volvo C70, enjoy the clever interiors, the snuggly seats, the powerful and quiet engines (that will also tow a trailer with the extra luggage with no effort at all). Despite the fact that Saab as a brand is no longer with us, most parts are still available on the market and the engines are notoriously bullet proof (but make sure the car comes with a fat service book). Both these models are at the bottom of the depreciation curve and will not loose you any money. Both can sit 4 people in comfort and offer a 360 degrees view while gently blasting along the coast road in style!
Yes, the Mx5 is missing from the article. Finding a good one for less than 10k can be a big challenge! Photo by Kiril Stamenkov @finedriving
In conclusion, yes you can buy an affordable convertible, keep for the sunny season and sell it back when sun screen goes back into the cupboard! If you always thought about it and never did it, now it’s the time. The used car market is flooded with leisure cars awaiting someone to pick them up!
Bad choice: Peugeot 307 CC
Good choice: Mini Cooper Cabrio
Great choice: Saab 9-3 Cabrio
Giorgio’s pick: Alfa Romeo Spider
Tim’s pick: BMW Z3