Buying a Used Convertible
Pros and Cons of driving a convertible:
- Huge feel-good factor on Summer days.
- Hold their value really well.
- Good deals on PCP finance, because of enhanced residual value.
- Restricted back seats, due to space required when the roof is down.
- Small bootspace due to housing convertible roof.
- Noisier in the cabin due to convertible roof.
Finally, summer has arrived and as the temperature rises you can bet that so too does interest in, and the prices of, soft tops.
In fact, the latest (April) trade price guide shows that convertibles now appearing on the forecourts are already starting to show a slight value increase as more customers search for them.
If that’s the bad news, then the good news is that convertibles tend to hold their value better than just about anything else, except specialist cars like the exotic sports models, meaning you can invest your money and enjoy it at the same time. Win-win!
There are two forms of convertible, the pure soft top and what are called the coupe convertibles (CC) and it’s this latter group which are by far and away the most common and popular.
A pure soft top is something like a Mazda MX-5 roadster, Volkswagen Beetle or Jaguar F-Type where you have a fabric soft top. Coupe convertibles are best-of-both worlds cars, with a metal roof which folds down into the boot when the weather is nice but gives you full protection and security for when it is not. Which, let’s face it, is the majority of the year here!
There are two key things you need to bear in mind if you are thinking about either a convertible or CC.
One is that these are compromise cars in that they have less room for the back seats and in the boot, tend not to ride as well, are sometimes heavier than the hatchback or saloon they are based on and can be noisier which is tiring on a longer journey.
The other is that, when the weather is inviting, there is simply nothing nicer in the motoring world than going topless. It is one of the few legal ways left to enjoy the simple act of driving and any compromise is instantly forgotten.
Happily, we are well served with convertibles in this country and there is a huge choice in size, price and performance for you to choose from. Manufacturers from Abarth to Aston Martin, Ford to Ferrari and Peugeot to Porsche build them, so there’s almost certainly something for you. You can even buy an SUV as a cabriolet, look at the Range Rover Evoque.
Let’s break the market down into two parts, the price and the variety.
You’ll be happy to know that you don’t need deep pockets to afford one, partly because their residual values are so strong that a PCP finance deal works out nicely and if you do pay a little more at the front end of the deal, the car will still be worth more than an equivalent hatchback when you come to sell it.
Say you can afford to put down a £1,000 deposit and spend £250 a month, you can still get some prime machinery with low mileage (sub-30,000) Mercedes Benz SLKs, Audi A3 Cabriolets and the like.
Even the briefest of internet searches reveals rich pickings. Giving ourselves an imaginary budget of up to £5,000 and buying a car with up to 70,000 miles and only from a dealer reveals a choice of some 1,500 models, nice ones like the Peugeot 207 CC or VW Beetle as well as MG roadsters. Going up in spending power to £10,000 and down on mileage to 50,000 gives you almost double the choice with around 2,800 vehicles waiting for their next owner.
And so it carries on all the way up to the stratospheric budgets (£1.3 million for a Porsche 918!), but the point is that there’s a huge choice covering all budgets.
Looking at the variety, you may be surprised to know, given our weather, that the UK is the second biggest market for convertibles in Europe, behind only Germany. If you’re wondering why Mediterranean countries don’t buy more, it is because the weather is too hot!
In terms of size, they start small with cars like the cute little Fiat 500 C with its fold down roof, the DS 3 and Citroën C1 Airscape, which has a full length folding fabric roof and must qualify as a convertible in all but name. One benefit of these cars is that they don’t lose rear seat space, unlike some others…
The majority of soft tops are bigger though, from mid-size hatchbacks such as the Audi A3 or VW Beetle up to the Audi A4, A5 sized cars and here you’re getting into the market where, as a rule of thumb, the cars tend to be coupe cabriolets with a folding metal roof rather than a fabric one. If your tastes and budgets run to the super luxury level, companies like Bentley and Rolls-Royce cater very well for you.
One other sector which lends itself very nicely to convertibles is sports cars and once again, there is a temptingly wide spectrum in price and size. How does an Audi TT, with a full service history and yet to see 40,000 miles for less than £225 a month sound? It’s out there for sale…
The appeal of a convertible is obvious, they’re fun and offer a rare chance to enjoy motoring. That is one level but they appeal financially too because they look after their value better than most other types of car.
It’s not often that you can have your cake and get to eat too; but with a convertible or cabriolet that’s just what you can do!
Some examples on sale at Swansway (as of May 2018):
2014 Fiat 500 C with 5,250 miles at £7,495.
2014 Citroën DS3 with 9,750 miles at £8,490.
2017 Audi A3 Cabriolet S line at £22,695.
2013 Jaguar F-Type at £34,000.
2017 Range Rover Evoque Cabriolet at £45,150.