Owning a convertible: the dream versus the reality

Woman raising hands for joy in red covertible
Put your hand in the air if you love driving a convertible!
"Nothing beats the thrill of the wind flowing through your locks as you blast a bit of the Quo out of the car stereo" Sean, confessed soft-top nut
  • | by Kristian Dando

Have you ever entertained the prospect of owning a drop-top car? I know I have.

As soon as the first cuckoo of spring is in earshot, I wistfully entertain the idea of buying a cheap, used MX-5 to enjoy sun-dappled runs to the coastline and mountains near my home.

There’s something about convertibles, cabriolets and roadsters that appeal to the optimist in us all.

But the reality of owning one is often far removed from the dream…

The dream

Image of couple enjoying a drive in the sun

It’s a beautiful summer afternoon: warm but with a gentle breeze.

So, you decide to hop into your car, fire up the engine and gun it down some local A-roads with the top down and the system up to enjoy a picnic.


The reality

Image of woman with wind in her hair

They don’t call it ‘wind-in-your-hair’ motoring for nothing.

As soon as you leave the house, that gentle breeze you're driving into is amplified to become a coastal gale, ruining your immaculately arranged coiffure.

What’s more, when you return home, your face has turned a shocking shade of puce – sunshine and wind means that you’re looking decidedly lobster-like… An unfortunate turn of events considering you’re hosting a stylish dinner party later that evening.

Jeremy, a regretful former cabriolet driver told us: “I always wanted a convertible, and eventually bought one, an Audi, about 10 years ago. Although it was a lovely car I hated it pretty much straight away and sold it six months later. Even in beautiful weather anything over 20mph was horrible. Never again!”

Alexandra, another former cabriolet driver was similarly perturbed by the elements. “The wind kept slapping my hair into my eyes. It annoyed me,” she revealed.

The dream

Couple next to red MGB

What a summer! From April to October, the sun beams down, interspersed with the occasional temperate downpour to keep the garden looking nice and the hosepipe ban at bay, so you can spend lazy Sunday mornings tenderly buffing your pride and joy.

The glorious sunshine means that you’ve barely had the hood down all summer – lovely stuff.

The reality

Image of flooded road and partially submerged car

The so-called ‘barbeque summer’ the forecasters promised proves to be a washout, with the Met Office issuing severe weather warnings on a seemingly monthly basis.

The one day you do manage to get the roof down is ruined by the freak thunderstorm which occurs when you nip into Morrisons to pick up some chicken pieces, haloumi, salad and charcoal, making for a decidedly soggy and miserable trip home.

Serial converter owner Sean recalled: “As a self-confessed soft-top nut I hold that nothing beats the thrill of the wind flowing through your locks as you blast a bit of the Quo out of the car stereo.

“I love my 1995 BMW, despite the leaks that've ruined the upholstery, but I did curse it one showery day in Cardiff. The roof locked halfway up, meaning a slow, wet drive to the garage, fearing to put my foot down in case the wind ripped the whole top off.”

The dream

Image of smug looking hipster type in convertible

It’s a scorching afternoon, and you’re cruising around your locale with the top down and a pair of natty shades on. 'The Best of M-People' is pumping out of the sound system, and you're feeling pretty good about yourself if truth be told.

Pedestrians shoot you envious glances, and you’re pretty much sure that those lasses outside Wetherspoons are giving you the glad eye, too.

Life couldn’t be sweeter.

The reality

Image of schoolboys playing football

Good old-fashioned painful British self-awareness takes hold the second you muster the confidence to get the roof down for the day.

You’re second-guessing yourself at every turn, leading to an embarrassing incident where you stall the engine at a busy set of traffic lights, causing the queue of traffic to honk impatiently at you.

Then, the ultimate humiliation – as you cruise past a gang of schoolboys, they shout something unspeakable and point vulgar hand gestures in your direction.

As your ego recovers from this hammer blow, you mutter “never again” under your breath.

But still….

Image of people enjoying a convertible

Despite all this, many convertible owners rarely go back, as these readers told us…

“It does leak a little but the way the roof folds into the boot and the ability to waft along with the roof down on a sunny day with some good music on the go more than compensates.”

Tim, south Wales

“Our old MX-5 was so utterly wonderful that we had the roof down all the time. Even in the snow.”

Dan, London

“I’ve had convertibles for the last 20 years. One of my greatest pleasures in life is driving with the roof down and singing at the top of my voice to cheesy pop music.

Yes the windows steam up in the winter and I can never see properly through the back window but it's oh so worth it even if it's only for a few days’ pleasure a year!"

Hayley, south Wales

“It’s pretty much rained the whole time I've owned it, but I did take note of one of your previous articles and bought it out of season to ensure a decent price. Now the summer's here I love it!”

James, Channel Islands.

“I love it – I get the roof down even if it's chilly, a jumper or jacket and heated seats helps keep me warm.

And on a nice sunny summer day, it's absolutely fab to drive it with the roof down along country lanes and A-roads.”

Biv, south Wales

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