Convertibles are an acquired taste. Driving on a country road on a warm afternoon in a sports car with the top down is the among the best joys of driving. The fresh air, or using the automotive terminology, “maximum ventilation,” can take all your troubles away.
But convertible tops, particularly fabric tops, have limitations, including deterioration, poor break-in protection and reduced cargo space. We discuss the pros and cons of convertibles in Episode No. 9.
Modern-day convertibles, of course, are far superior to the early varieties. The ragtop quality is top grade. Electric systems have replaced awkward manual requirements to lower or raise tops. Push a level above the dashboard on a 2017 Volkswagen Beetle and the top lowers or rises in 13 seconds. And the system can operate with the car traveling as fast as 31 mph.
Hardtop convertibles offer the best of both car types. The Volkswagen Eos, a hardtop sedan made from 2006-2015, overpriced and underappreciated. Its hardtop was particularly efficient. It discreetly folded flat just above the rear seats. And when the top was up, the Eos was as quiet as a sedan.
Of course, there are variations on the theme. Vintage Mercedes-Benz coupes had detachable hardtops. A recent Fiat 500C Abarth I reviewed wasn’t a true convertible. It’s top rolled by like a can sardines. The side pillars remain in place.
Arguably, the most famous convertible in the Jaguar XKE. The mid-60 editions are often cited as the most beautiful cars ever made. It’s an opinion hard to dispute.