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Summer motoring

Spring is here and Summer is on its way.

That’s a sign that the tops are coming off, so you may want to turn your thoughts to open top motoring – a concept not possible not so long ago.

In the 1970’s US legislation seemed to be heading towards outlawing convertibles in the wake of the Ralph Nader safety initiatives. But it never actually took place.

However the threat was enough for all major manufacturers to cancel plans to develop drop tops, leading to a drought in the market place for well over a decade.

The breakthrough came in the late 80’s with the launch of the little Mazda MX5 sports car. This was so popular that it went on to become the world’s biggest selling sports car in history.

It also showed other makers that there was a pent up demand for basic open air motoring, and to say that they all jumped on the bandwagon could almost be an understatement.

So today, with up to $50,000 to spend, what can you get?

If you asked that question a few years ago you would probably be looking at a very narrow choice of the Mazda MX5, the short lived Ford Capri or the VW Golf Convertible.

Now the list is vastly bigger and encompasses a huge choice including the following(please note that prices are approximate as they very much depend on specifications and individual preferences):

Smart Fortwo Pulse Cabrio, priced in the low to mid twenties. A snazzy car for the city, it will put you into parking spaces you never thought were possible as it is only 3.5 metres long

Citroen C3 Pluriel, just under $30,000. A true fashion statement from France

Peugeot 207cc, in the low thirties. Another French creation, equally suitable for the Riviera or the Gold Coast

Volkswagen New Beetle Cabrio, high thirties. The retro version of the Golf that evokes fond memories of the original Beetle drop top

Mini Cooper Cabrio, also in the high thirties. Made by BMW this also rides the retro band wagon, and is seen as the pinnacle of fashion in some circles

Mazda MX5 in the low, mid to high 40’s. Now a 2 seater sports car icon, and unique in that you can choose between a rag top and a convertible steel roof

Audi A3 in the low to mid forties. Germany’s answer to the MX5 but with, theoretically, four seats.

Holden Astra Twin Top, on the mid to high forties. European sourced Holden which features state of the art retractable hard top technology

Volkswagen Eos, high forties. High performance from its Golf GTI derived petrol engine, or turbo diesel powered for economy.

So now we have a choice of at least ten different types and brands for under $50K, the widest we’ve seen in decades.

They all have different strengths and features but one thing is in common.

The modern day convertible dispenses with rag tops that take an age to take off and even longer to clip back on.
Every one of these cars has a powered hood option that makes open top conversion a cinch in seconds.

Some use a fabric hood, but more and more makers are opting for a collapsible steel roof.
This adds weight and cost, but it does give an added feeling of security when leaving your car in a car park, or in the street overnight.

All suffer some level of passenger discomfort. Some are simply two-seaters, such as the Smart and Mazda, whilst the others can be called little more than occasion two plus twos. None have lashings of space for the kids, let alone grown ups, in the back seats.

Best of all is the safety factor of modern convertibles. Gone are the days of scuttle shake, rattles and vibrations. All are pretty stiff, but none are quite as well stressed as a car with a roof.

Modern convertibles are cleverly designed and all must comply with Australian safety standards if they are to be sold here, and most of the above models have achieved at least a four star safety rating.

All are well finished, well equipped and all have that special pizzazz of wind-in-the-hair motoring on those glorious Summer days.

If you are thinking about buying a convertible for Summer please talk to one of our consultants, without obligation, and see if we can find the right car for you.