Best cheap convertibles
Nothing beats a drop top, especially in sunny weather. Here are some of the best cheap used convertibles out there now
A decent cheap convertible is a really cost effective way of landing a fun car to drive, and given their popularity in the UK you can easily get hold of low-mileage, well-looked-after examples for relatively low prices all year round.
And yes, while it’s true that British weather doesn’t always lend itself to roofless driving, a drop top will at least give you the option of enjoying the sun, on the off chance that its rays manage to penetrate the seemingly ever-present layer of cloud overhead.
Convertibles are often castigated by purists for being slightly less rigid, but with a convertible you can hear the engine more clearly, and in some of the cars we've found that's a massive bonus.
While the Mazda MX-5 might not have the best engine not here, it promotes an involving drive by giving you more feedback through the engine note. The Bentley Continental GTC is at the other end of the spectrum, offering a reassuringly deep burble from its 6.0-litre W12.
The Bentley might have suffered from severe depreciation in losing over £100,000 in just over a decade, but the Honda S2000 has reached the bottom of its depreciation curve and is widely regarded as a future classic and a sound investment.
In any case, whatever your budget is there’s bound to be a cheap convertible out there that’s right for you. We’ve rifled through the classifieds and scoured the internet to come up with eight convertibles that might just be what you’re looking for...
Porsche Boxster 2.7
We found: 987 2.7 (2006/06-reg, 77k miles)Price new: £32,695Now: £7,150Engine: 2.7-litre flat six, 237bhpEconomy: 29mpgCO2: 229g/kmEuro NCAP: N/A
How would you fancy your very own naturally aspirated, flat-six, mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive convertible Porsche for just over £7k?
Second-generation Boxster prices are bottoming out, and if you’re willing to take the plunge (and risk some high maintenance bills if something goes wrong), the 987 still shapes up as a serious sports car, regardless of the modest outlay you’ll need to hand over to have one on your driveway.
We’re looking at earlier, basic 237bhp 2.7-litre examples prior to a late-2006 mild update. These brought more power, but the same great balance, steering and handling ability. It’s simply a brilliant sports car.
We found: S2000 (2007/07-reg, 86k miles)Price new: £27,107 Now: £8,995Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 237bhp Economy: 28.2mpgCO2: 236g/km Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2002)
One of the best sports cars of the past 20 years, the S2000 mixes timeless looks, fine handling and a rev-happy engine.
That 2.0-litre, four cylinder produces 237bhp without the help of turbochargers. There’s not much to shout about at lower engine speeds, but the S2000’s rabid higher-rev acceleration will instantly hook keen drivers. As long as a car has been well maintained, a high mileage is nothing to fear, and values are only set to rise.
We found: sDrive28i M Sport Nav (2015/64-reg, 43k)Price new: £39,165Now: £18,000Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 242bhpEconomy: 41.5mpgCO2: 159g/kmEuro NCAP: 3 stars (2015)
Convertibles are about style and image, and the BMW Z4 definitely delivers. The folding metal hard-top balances refinement and open-top thrills – it can be electrically folded on the move in only 20 seconds – and the recent arrival of a new model means used examples of this previous-generation car have become even more affordable.
We’ve picked out the 242bhp sDrive28i model. The raspy 2.0-litre engine revs well enough and provides a good (if not blistering) level of performance. But this convertible is about all-round ability – there’s practicality and decent comfort, while the 28i also offers acceptable efficiency.
Bentley Continental GTC
We found: 6.0 W12 (2007/07-reg, 91k miles)Price new: £132,500Now: £29,400Engine: 6.0-litre W12, 551bhpEconomy: 16.5mpgCO2: 410g/kmEuro NCAP: N/A
Once upon a time, buying a Bentley with 90,000 miles on the clock could have been financial suicide. These days, ever since the VW Group has taken ownership of the British marque, a used example is much more reliable. Budget for high repair costs if things go wrong, but at less than £30,000 for a superbly stylish Continental GT Convertible, it’s worth a punt.
The twin-turbo 6.0-litre W12 engine offers the kind of effortlessly smooth performance that a Bentley needs, and even with the roof down the ride comfort and refinement are befitting of this kind of car. When it left the factory, this was once a £132,500 model. Now you can bag it with more than a £100,000 saving over its price when new.
Toyota MR2 Mk3
We found: 1.8 VVT-i (2000/X-reg, 68k miles)Price new: £18.495 Now: £1,600Engine: 1.8-litre 4cyl, 138bhp Economy: 38.2mpgCO2: 178g/km Euro NCAP: N/A
The third-generation MR2 was intended as a proper rival for the MX-5. The mid-engined set-up contrasts with the Mazda’s conventional layout, while the perky 1.8-litre engine unlocks 0-62mph in under eight seconds.
Often overlooked, you can get good example for way under £2,000 - so the Toyota makes sense when seeking cheap drop-top thrills. But without a proper boot, don’t expect the MR2 to be practical.
We found: SL350 (2010/10-reg, 68k miles)Price new: £67,570Now: £11,495Engine: 3.5-litre V6, 312bhpEconomy: 29.1mpgCO2: 226g/kmEuro NCAP: N/A
Few used cars offer more style for the money than the Mercedes SL. A new one would have cost you the thick end of £70,000 only 10 years ago, but now you can scoop up this classy cruiser for less than 12 grand.
The 350 was the entry point to the range, although its creamy-smooth petrol V6 feels anything but basic. This car is set up for cruising rather than B-road blasts, making it the ideal top-down companion on a long trip. If the weather turns, the retractable metal roof protects occupants from the elements, and refinement is strong.
We found: 1.8 (2005/05-reg, 64k miles)Price new: £15,297 Now: £2,695Engine: 1.8-litre 4cyl, 144bhp Economy: 32.5mpgCO2: 210g/km Euro NCAP: 4 stars (2002)
It’s easy to argue that the Mazda MX-5 is the best sports car ever made. It’s certainly the best selling, with around one million having found homes over the past 30 years. Also, it’s really affordable used, delivering open-top fun, exciting handling and plenty of style for not much cash.
In 1.8-litre form the MX-5 is fast enough; although this car has only 144bhp, it’s very light. A late Mk2 looks the best value at the moment, since the Mk3 gained weight.
Read our list of the best cheap sports cars