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The Convertible Car: Why are they sexy?

Updated on June 28, 2012
1964 Convertible Corvair by Chevrolet
1964 Convertible Corvair by Chevrolet
1966 Corvair Corsa
1966 Corvair Corsa
1993 Mercury Capri
1993 Mercury Capri
2011 BMW M3
2011 BMW M3

If you think about it, convertible cars have always been the most impractical cars. The logic to own one is illogical. When the top is up, many cars look lame because the car designers designed as a convertible first, a car with a roof, second. When the top is up, the sun's UV rays are hitting the vinyl and over a few years, it begins to rip or tear. The plastic rear window seams open. Soon, you'll be installing a new top for $500+. When the top is down, the car is sleek, sexy and cool as you drive with the wind blowing your hair. Now, for some, that is NOT a plus, because long hair tends to become tangled. When the top is down, the whole inside of the interior is bombarded with the same UV rays of the sun causing leather or vinyl to fade, crack and tear. It is just a matter of time.

Owning a convertible is somehow suppose to be more cool. They do cost more than hardtops. But safety and security wise, they are weak. Nothing is ever safe in a convertible even with the top up. Anyone who wants to enter your car can, just take a knife to the vinyl and cut it like butter. Safety wise, you are DOA should you roll your car over.

Geographically, convertibles need a place to too hot or cold. The ideal place is San Diego. LA is fine, but it is no fun sitting in a traffic jam or a long light when it is 90F outside and the sun is beating down. People who own these cars like to leave the top down when it comes down. The reason is constant raising and lowering a vinyl top will create creases and weak spots in the vinyl from constant bending. Over time, damage occurs until a new top is needed. Hawaii and Florida would seem to be ideal places but for the rain showers that come and go with little warning. No fun in taking a shower unannounced. Texas is a horrible place for a convertible. People who have them raise the top in the summer for shade and air conditioning that defeats the purpose of having the top down. Finding a place where the temp does not drop below 65F at night and not more than 80F in the day (ideal convertible weather) is more difficult than you might think.

Convertibles are meant to be driven at speeds not more than 50 mph. The ideal speeds are between 20-40 mph, or in town driving. Driving them on the highway at 55 mph or more is quite an experience. It simulates a hurricane quite well, literally, in fact, it becomes funny. There you are not more than 3 ft. from a passenger, hair blowing in all directions, yelling loudly trying to communicate over the wind noise and music blaring. This scenario occurs even if there is no music. Wind noise is fine for a little while, but at some point, you want the radio or music.

So, with so many negatives, what is there purpose? I have no clue except they are sexy. Go figure.

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    • perrya profile image
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      perrya 5 years ago

      Well, it is not out of date at ll. It depends on the kind of convertible. Not all of them have the wind shield behind the front seats, in fact, most do not. Of course, your car is not in the same class and many cannot afford it. Collector cars all share the same issues I addressed in the hub, I know, I have had three vertibles, even cars in the 90's have these issues. The only way to avoid the issues is a wind block. if you do not have one, the issues apply. Security issues are the same. If someone wants in, just take a knife to the top. I do like them, in fact, I have one now but it has a removeable hardtop on it.

    • profile image

      Dave 5 years ago

      Umm your article is pretty out of date. I own a new bmw convertible and it is an absolute plasure to drive with top down. Just a piece of art. I can never go back to driving an ordinary boring regular car, it's just such an exciting experience with the top down, so I definitely do not agree with your article. And driving 50 mph. Are you kidding or what? The new verts are super fast and you get such a rush accelerating with the top down. Wind noise is not an issue and I can hear the passengers just fine even at higher speeds.

      I will say that having good weather is important (luckily I have year round sunshine where I live), I get the seats and top treated regularly so they are in top shape, sure there are some precautions you need to take and to try and park the car in the shade, but it is well worth it. I have two cars anyway so not a big deal for me.

      Convertibles are sweet!

    • perrya profile image
      Author

      perrya 5 years ago

      Yes, the higher end cars do have that backdraft block that greatly helps, but most do not, especially with ones that have a rear seat. I have a 91 Capri, it has a a soft top and hard top. While the car look sexy with it down, it gets hot enough in the summer to want the top up, so I just leave the hard top on. Dilemmas!

    • Howard S. profile image

      Howard S. 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas, and Asia

      For negatives, you neglected to mention the need to always park where there is no overhanging perch for birds!

      I rarely, if ever, drive mine at night, so I don't know whether 65 degrees is correct. But during the daytime, I'm OK down to about 45 with the heater on, windows up and a scarf and driving gloves. At the upper end, 95 is fine as long as I can keep moving. But, like you say, Texas really isn't the best place for it.

      The buffeting from wind really depends a lot on the car's aerodynamics. Cars designed first and foremost with an open cockpit have less wind entering the cockpit. Some of them have a panel that raises vertically behind the passengers' heads to prevent the typical rolling backdraft.

      The 1978-1981 Toyota Celicas in coachbuilt convertible form, which I have written hubs about, strangely have less buffeting than some factory convertibles I have ridden in. To look at the 2nd generation Celicas, you'd think they have zero aerodynamics, but maybe that's just what happens to work.