Whether it’s brand-new or a sought-after classic, a convertible car is always the way to go when wanting to make a statement. Over the course of history, the convertible has not only been associated with sportiness and the thrill of driving but also with elegance and luxury.
The earliest convertible cars were sports cars that had their roofs chopped off – like the Jaguar XK120 and MG TF in the 1940s and 1950s. This tradition was altered in the 1960s with cars such as the Ferrari 250 GT California and Mercedes-Benz 280SL – which follow the same recipe but ended up as two very different cars. Soon, the convertible became a luxury vehicle based on coupes, with the exception being the Mercedes-Benz SL and SLK models, being built to be convertibles from the get-go.
Today, convertible cars are mostly seen as a fun ride to cruise along a boulevard, promenade, or the Riviera in luxury while taking in the sights and the sun. If that’s your dream, here are 10 of the best convertibles on the used car market for the perfect cruise along the coastline.
10 2008 Pontiac Solstice GXP ($16,000)
The Pontiac Solstice was a coupe and convertible built between 2006 and 2010. The normal Solstice was fitted with a 2.4-liter i4 producing 177 hp but was later upgraded to a 2.0-liter turbocharged i4 producing 260 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque in the Solstice GXP.
The Solstice was a surprisingly good sports car and with the dealership applied power upgrade – which boosted output to 290 hp – the Solstice’s Ecotec LNF engine was the GM engine with the highest specific output at the time. The Solstice is a great car, not only for an exhilarating drive along a canyon road but also for a cruise along a coastline.
9 2012 Audi A5 Cabriolet ($17,000)
The Audi A5 was introduced in 2007 and was considered to be a hit within the motoring community. Audi released a cabriolet in 2009, which had most of the same engines and drivetrains. In the US, the A5 Cabriolet was available with a 2.0-liter turbocharged i4, or a naturally aspirated 4.2-liter V8 in the S5.
The Cabriolet was front-wheel-drive as standard, although the Quattro system was available as an option. The A5 Cabriolet is a great car, featuring some more luxurious features and is overall more comfortable than many other convertibles. Thanks to the relatively small engine, the A5 gets good fuel economy, resulting in a longer sunset drive.
8 2016 Mazda MX-5 ($18,000)
The Mazda MX-5 is one of the best budget sports cars ever made. The model redefined the segment and proved that fun and engaging sports cars did not need to cost the same as a house. This tradition continues to this day with the current generation MX-5, which is easy to use as a daily driver and as a racecar.
The current MX-5 is fitted with a 2.0-liter i4, producing 181 hp. This may not seem like much, but thanks to the light weight, the MX-5 accelerates to 60 mph in just 7.3 seconds (8.5 for the automatic). While it has adequate performance, it is also able to just cruise comfortably along a winding road and allow the passengers to enjoy the trip.
7 2002 Ford Thunderbird ($9,000)
In 1999, Ford decided they needed a new Thunderbird model as the previous one wasn’t doing very well. So, they went back to the original Thunderbird and styled the eleventh generation accordingly. The result was a modern interpretation of the original, but it flopped spectacularly.
The car itself was fine, but the marketing for it was well below par, resulting in terrible sales figures. Ford was criticized for its approach, with reviewers stating that this car was aimed at people who felt nostalgic for the original. In 2005, Ford pulled the plug. The Thunderbird is still around though, and thanks to depreciation, has become extremely affordable – making it a cheap boulevard cruiser.
6 2012 BMW Z4 ($20,000)
The Z4 is BMW’s take on the sporty roadster recipe. The Z4 was introduced after the Z3 was discontinued, and BMW has announced that the current-gen Z4 will be the last. The E89 Z4 was on sale between 2009 and 2016 and was the first Z model since the Z1 to not have a fixed-roof version.
The Z4 was available with a range of engines, ranging from a 2.0-liter turbo i4 in the sDrive18i, to a 3.0-liter twin-turbo i6 in the sDrive35is. The mid-range sDrive28i was fitted with a punchy 2.0-liter turbo, which produced an impressive 240 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The 28i was also fitted with an 8-speed automatic – the best in the world at the time – resulting in a smooth and comfortable driving experience.
5 2013 Mini Cooper S Convertible ($15,000)
The second-generation Mini Cooper (after BMW acquired the company) was introduced in 2006. It was updated from the first generation on a re-engineered platform built to be sportier and accommodate more powerful engines. MINI launched the convertible model in 2009, and it featured mostly the same engines as the hard-top.
The Cooper S was fitted with a 1.6-liter turbocharged Prince engine – a collaboration between BMW and Peugeot – and produced 170 hp. The power is sent to the front wheel only via either a 6-speed manual or automatic. The Mini Cooper S is an easily maneuverable car and possesses the same ‘Driving Pleasure’ DNA as its parent company.
4 2004 BMW M3 Convertible ($17,000)
The BMW M3 E46 is considered to be the best of the M3 range, and one of the best M-cars ever made. The coupe is the most sought-after model, resulting in them asking a hefty sum – even second-hand. The easier but less appreciated option is an M3 Convertible.
The M3 Convertible has all the same parts as the coupe, but the trade-off is that the convertible is heavier and less rigid, due to the roof mechanism and structural reinforcements. Regardless, the M3 Convertible is still able to be one of the best driver’s cars ever made, or simply a powerful cruiser to take in some much-needed sunlight.
3 2002 Jaguar XK8 Convertible ($10,000)
The Jaguar XK8 Convertible was specifically designed to cruise along the coast in comfort. The XK8 replaced the aging XJS in 1997 and was in production until 2006 when the more modern XK took over.
The XK8 was fitted with a 4.0-liter V8 – which was supercharged in the XKR – and produced 290 hp and 290 lb-ft of torque. The Jaguar XK8 was a great car when properly maintained and was something different compared to the usual Mercedes-Benzes. When considering an XK8, be sure to look for one with a good service history to avoid paying the price of the car in repair costs.
2 2012 Nissan 370Z Roadster ($19,000)
The Nissan 370Z Roadster is a car that is usually overlooked, thanks to the coupe version being so popular. The roadster was introduced along with the coupe in 2009 and was still sold until 2019, before being discontinued to make room for the upcoming Nissan Z car.
The 370Z was fitted with a 3.7-liter V6 producing 330 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels only via either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic transmission. The most popular transmission choice in the Roadster was the automatic, as it helped create a sense of comfort and luxury.
1 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL550 ($19,000)
The Mercedes-Benz SL is the undisputed king of the luxury convertible market. There may be more luxurious and powerful cars in the segment, but the SL has the best combination of the two desired aspects. The SL was available in many trims, but the mid-range SL550 is currently the best value for money.
The SL550 was a North America-only model – it was simply called the SL500 in other territories – and was so named thanks to the 5.5-liter V8 under the hood. The engine produced 380 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque, going to the rear wheels only via a 7-speed automatic transmission. The Mercedes-Benz SL is truly the best budget luxury convertible to cruise in along a winding coastline.
These Badass Convertibles Are A Lot Cheaper Than They Look
About The Author