Convertible cars are amazingly popular in Britain, considering how much we complain about the weather. But while there’s a certain type of open-top enthusiast who relishes freezing icicles in the eyebrows or freezing rainwater down the back of the next, those classic motoring clichés bear little resemblance to driving today’s best convertibles.
Convertible and cabriolet cars for sale these days include straightforward soft-top cars, and hardtop convertibles with metal or plastic folding roofs. There are 2- or 4-seater convertible models widely available, and you can find open-topped versions of everything from tiny city cars to SUVs.
The truth is, you don’t have to be a hardy soul to enjoy open-air motoring these days. For starters, in spite of the occasional rain shower, the British climate is actually well suited to fresh air driving. The last thing you really want when driving with the roof down is sunburn or heatstroke, and our mild British summers are ideal for dropping the top.
While convertibles come in all shapes and sizes, they tend to fall into two distinct groups – those that were originally conceived as open air fun cars, and those that are cut down from sister models with roofs. The former category tends to include sportier models like the Mazda MX-5, the Audi TT and Porsche Boxster, while the latter could be anything from a converted hatchback like the Mini, a large family car like the Mercedes E-Class, or even a premium SUV like the Range Rover Evoque.
Cars that have been converted often need extra body-stiffening to make up for the lack of a roof. That means in spite of their sporty looks they can be heavier and less fun to drive than their metal-roofed stablemates, although modern design techniques mean converted models are much better than they used to be. Still, cars designed from scratch to be roofless, are often lighter, more nimble, and generally more exciting.
You can grab a bargain convertible in the form of a city car - even if these economical, urban runabouts do blur the line between a proper convertible hood and a glorified sunroof.
Beyond that, the choice expands. There are family-sized cars with traditional lightweight multi-skinned fabric roofs offering eerily good noise insulation or full folding hard-tops claiming a best-of-both-worlds compromise. Depending on the size of these models, usable rear seats and a decent boot are now a very real possibility for convertibles.
The classic two-seater roadster is also in rude health, from the iconic Mazda MX-5 to the epic Jaguar F-Type. And the convertible market extends upwards further, to supercars like the McLaren 650S Spider promising huge performance and luxurious machines like Bentley's Continental GTC that afford those with the cash an unforgettable way to see and be seen.
Amid all this convertible car choice, we've pinpointed our top convertible cars currently on the market. Hold on to your hats and click the links below to find out what made the list…