11 Reliable Convertibles on the Cheap
Christian Wardlaw | Jul 15, 2013
It's summertime, and the American economy is improving. People are spending more money on the things they want, in addition to the things they need. When it comes to cars that means consumers are more willing to add a second or third vehicle to the household that is designed primarily for fun rather than function, and few cars are more enjoyable to drive on a warm summer evening than a convertible.
Thing is, convertibles aren't cheap. The least expensive new convertible model, the ultra-compact 2013 Smart Fortwo Cabriolet, starts at $18,640. Step up to a compact or midsize convertible model, and you're looking at a price tag approaching $30,000, or more, in some cases. That means a used drop-top is an appealing proposition, especially one that has demonstrated a solid track record for dependability.
Based on annual J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability StudySM findings covering models as far back as the 2002 model year, the most dependable convertibles sold during the past decade--those that consistently ranked highly in J.D. Power surveys--were researched online in the used car classifieds to see if someone with a $15,000 budget could buy one with fewer than 75,000 miles on the odometer.
The result is this list of 11 reliable convertibles that can be bought on the cheap, and that should prove dependable enough that you smile about them more often than not. They're listed below in alphabetical order.
BMW redesigned its 2-seat roadster for the 2003 model year, adding what the company called flame-surfaced styling and renaming it as the Z4 in the process. Offering a choice between two refined inline 6-cylinder engines, a used Z4 with reasonable mileage costs about $14,000.
Ford redesigned the Mustang for 2005, going with a retro-themed styling approach hearkening back to the 1960s. The 4-seat convertible came with a V-6 or a V-8 engine, and used versions of these newer Mustangs that are priced under $15,000 tend to have higher mileage.
Lincoln LS platform, the retro-styled, rear-drive Thunderbird commanded steep prices when new. Today, they cost a fraction of their original price.
Mercedes roadster? You can, and for less than $15,000. Finding a low-mileage, first-generation SLK for that price isn't easy, but they do exist. Plus, the power-retractable hardtop roof makes this a four-season proposition, rather than just a summertime fling.
Pontiac is gone, and so is the Solstice, which hasn't become a collector's item. Today, lots of low-mileage examples are available for less than $15,000.
Camry and thought it might make a nice, roomy, cruiser of a convertible? Here's your car: the 2004-2007 Solara. This 4-passenger drop-top is the roomiest model on this list, and was sold with a 4-cylinder or a V-6 engine driving the front wheels through an automatic transmission.
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