The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Convertible
We’ve gathered the most up to date and relevant information for Australians when it comes to buying a convertible. We have the top tips for buyers.
Pros and Cons of Convertibles
Types of Convertibles
There are three main types of convertible cars.
|Types of Convertible|
|Type||Features||How it looks|
|Roadsters||Roadsters tend to be compact, sporty, and fast. A roadster is all about performance, less about comfort and practicality. Roadsters are two-seaters and are limited for space inside and in the boot.|
|Standard Convertibles||Standard convertibles offer more space than roadster and are usually able to accommodate two or three people in the rear seat – albeit without much legroom. These are the best option for everyday use or family runabouts that still have the wow factor.|
|Upscale and Luxury Convertibles||Luxury convertibles are where performance and comfort meet. They tend to be of a high specification with a comfortable interior and lots of upscale appointments. Expect to find these with a hard top mobilized by push-button retraction, heated seats, and lots of features on the dash.|
Factors in Choosing the Right Convertible
Soft or Hard Top?
In the past, soft-top convertibles were the only option, but these days there are many hard-top convertibles to choose from, too. There are downsides to choosing a soft top, such as increased security risk, more road noise and, in some cases, the need to retract the top manually (though there are many automatic retractable soft tops on the market now).
Convertible hard tops either may be retractable or completely removable. Removable hard tops can be heavy and awkward to remove, so they often need two people to remove, but they offer more protection than soft tops when they are in place. At the top end of the convertible spectrum, retractable hard tops are the ultimate solution, although they tend to be more costly and can take up a surprising amount of boot space when retracted.
Two Seats or Four?
The decision of two seats or four will depend on how you plan to use your car. If you are looking for an everyday runabout, you may want to consider the limitations of only being able to seat one passenger. On the other hand, if you are looking for a statement sports car for weekend runs in the sun, a two-seater may be just what you need.
New or Used Convertibles?
Naturally, price will be an important factor in your decision to buy any convertible. As with all cars, different brands come with different price tags. However, more than any other factor, usually the age of the convertible will affect the price of your chosen vehicle.
There are many benefits to buying a new convertible if you can afford it. New cars come with extensive warranties (usually for three or even five years), and you will be able to specify your preferred colour, trim, and accessories. Buying new does mean, however, that you are exposed to more rapid and pronounced depreciation than with a second-hand car.
Buying a used convertible may be the ideal option if your convertible budget is limited or you want to get more car for your cash. Whatever your price bracket, there should be plenty of choice, both from dealerships and via private sales direct from current owners. The downside of buying a used car is that you have less protection if there are any problems.
The price of convertibles varies widely depending on the brand, specifications, and age. Do bear in mind that it will often cost considerably more to buy a convertible than to buy the same car model with a fixed roof.
Power and Fuel Economy of Convertibles
Convertibles come with a wide range of engines. Four-cylinder engines typically will give greater fuel economy, but they may be lacking a little in the power department. If you are looking for sports performance, then something a little more powerful will be in order.
Real sports performance comes in a small car with a big engine such as a V8. This will give you speed and acceleration – though it will do so at a price in the form of fuel economy. Perhaps the best compromise comes in the form of a six-cylinder engine, which delivers a compelling combination of power and economy.
Due to their sportier nature, most convertibles come with manual transmission as standard, but there are some automatic models on the market too. Traditionally, manual cars delivered greater fuel economy. Today, however, that is not always the case, as there are several excellent automatics offering comparable performance and economy.
When Is the Best Time to Buy a Convertible?
If you want to buy a brand-new convertible, the choice of when to buy may depend on whether you are looking for the latest number plate or you’re angling for a model that is due to be updated.
The benefits of both are clear: you can either be one of the first drivers to secure the new model, or alternatively you can secure one of the last versions of the previous model at a discount. If you are buying a used convertible, buying in the winter when fewer people are thinking about driving with the roof down can be a good way of bagging a bargain.
Inspecting Convertible Cars in Person
When you inspect a vehicle it is always important to do so with care, and this is even more important when it comes to buying a convertible. Convertibles have specific features that do not apply to solid-top cars, such as their mechanisms for retracting the roof and their safety in crash conditions.
Start by giving the car a close inspection by eye. Look for straight lines along the bodywork and chassis. Check the paintwork carefully for any signs of the car having been damaged or re-sprayed, which might indicate that it has been in a collision.
Pay particular attention to the doors and bumpers, as they are most prone to damage when a car has a bump. Other signs of damage to look for are difficulty in opening and closing the doors or boot, or scraping/bumping noises when you do so.
Take a good look at the state of the interior. If the upholstery has been well looked after, the chances are better that everything beneath the bonnet also has been. Take the time to sit in the car and carefully inspect the dash, window seals, and door seals.
Retract the roof, either using its automatic mechanism or manually, according to the make of the convertible. If the roof is already off when you arrive, insist on replacing it so that you can check its condition thoroughly and ensure it fits tightly and completely.
Test Drive the Car
Always carry out a test drive when buying a car. Make sure you have the opportunity to start the car from cold, not just warm, because if the car has engine problems they are most likely to be apparent when starting the engine from cold. Check the brakes, clutch, gears, and dashboard features to ensure all are in good working order.
How to Buy a Convertible on Gumtree
Buying a convertible is a big decision, so you want to be sure you are making the right choice. Gumtree is an excellent destination, both for research information and a large selection of convertibles to choose from. Convertible cars on Gumtree are available direct from the owner or via reputable car dealerships, and there are thousands of models available to suit every taste and budget.
Enter ‘convertible’ in the search box at the top of any Gumtree page to view the full range of available convertibles, or use this link to jump straight to the most up-to-date search results.
You can hone your searches according to model, for instance by typing in ‘Mazda MX 5’. Additionally login to Gumtree to utilise the save search feature to send yourself weekly/daily/fortnightly price alerts on any models that have been listed, that you are looking to purchase.
Once you have found the car of your dreams, don’t forget to give it a thorough inspection to ensure the best chances of trouble-free motoring for many a year to come.