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SEADave
SEADave HalfDork
4/3/17 2:54 p.m.

I think the old adage in the collector car world was "when the roof goes down the price goes up" meaning that the convertible version of a given collectible car would almost always be worth more than the coupe or hardtop version of the same. Of course there were always exceptions when the non-convertible version had some sort of aesthetic or other quality lost in the convertible (300SL's, 275GTB's, those Alfa's and Fiat's where the coupe version was prettier, etc.), but for the most part this held true for lots of collectible cars.

But in the normal, everyday "interesting but not really valuable" realm where I look, I have been noticing that in a lot of cases the convertible version of a given car may not only be worth no more than the hardtop, but in many cases are worth less - sometimes way less. I noticed this when I was shopping for my Foxbody 5.0 - I was dead set on a hatch and had to eliminate 3 or 4 convertibles for every hatchback that I found.

Lately I have been looking at a lot of very diverse cars, and keep noticing the same trend. 996's - convertibles maybe not cheaper but definitely not worth more. Some of the cheapest C5 Corvettes I found were vert's; ditto for 1-series BMW's, R53 Mini's and 350Z's. And even looking at the same model years, Boxsters are always cheaper than Caymans.

What's the explanation for this? Are these cars that folks just buy as basic transportation, and therefore the convertible version is just considered a hassle? Are people worried about the eventual cost of convertible top replacement? Or are these cars being bought up as potential track rats and the convertible version can't play? Has anyone else noticed this trend?

cmcgregor
cmcgregor Dork
4/3/17 2:59 p.m.

In my personal opinion, it's the track usage - most of the stuff I'm looking for I want for its performance potential, which means the hardtop version, when that's an option. There's also a perception of the convertible being the floppier, heavier version of the performance car.

John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
4/3/17 2:59 p.m.

Some track days do not allow convertibles or have "rules" on convertibles.

The cars you have listed are all desirable track day cars. So, for the use in track days, the desirability of hardtops increases but the availability of good hardtops may be decreasing at a more rapid rate that garage queen convertibles.

Edit: same time posting a cMcGregor

Robbie
Robbie UberDork
4/3/17 3:00 p.m.

Definitely because convertibles are frowned up in rallycross.

Yep, rallycross is to blame.

BrokenYugo
BrokenYugo MegaDork
4/3/17 3:03 p.m.

I'm guessing that the typically stiffer and lighter hardtop version of an enthusiast car that also came as a convertible is going to be in higher demand. Whereas stuff a lot of people buy to just cruise around in will value the convertible higher.

Toyman01
Toyman01 MegaDork
4/3/17 3:07 p.m.

I stopped liking them about 40 years ago.

Sky_Render
Sky_Render SuperDork
4/3/17 3:10 p.m.

I figured it's because convertible tops need to be replaced eventually, and that's an expensive procedure. So, people list them for sale cheap.

Woody
Woody MegaDork
4/3/17 3:12 p.m.

I think the popularity of convertibles dropped off sharply when air conditioning became standard on just about everything. When someone spent a few summers driving around in a hot sedan with the windows open, the idea of a convertible became appealing. Add air conditioning, and summer becomes much more tolerable in that sedan.

I've owned seven convertibles, but almost never drive with the top down anymore. I can't take the sun. I liked driving my Jeeps with the top on but the doors and side windows off.

If only Mazda would make a small, rear wheel drive two seat coupe...

Tom_Spangler
Tom_Spangler UberDork
4/3/17 3:18 p.m.
Toyman01 wrote: I stopped liking them about 40 years ago.

Yeah, 46 years ago for me. Roughly coinciding with the date of my birth.

I did give them a chance, though. Had a Miata and a convertible Mustang, just to see what all the fuss was about. Yep, still not a fan. Most of the time it's either too hot or too cold, they don't seal well, they are more leak prone, they are generally heavier, they are louder, and you periodically have to replace things like tops and back windows.

I get that some folks love them. I say good on ya, but they aren't for me.

Ricky Spanish
Ricky Spanish Reader
4/3/17 3:19 p.m.

convertibles are generally soft, floppy versions of coupes that the nouveau riche trash purchase because they don't know any better. Think 996 turbo cab or M3 cab - nobody wants those.

Roadsters are awesome.

Aspen
Aspen Reader
4/3/17 3:28 p.m.

All of the above and it may depend on market too. Around here R52 MINIs are worth 50% to 100% more than a coupe. Maybe it is due to many verts being stored away from salt, so you can find a pristine 12 year old car vs. the rusty coupe version. In the south they may be closer in value because the verts are driven year round and the tops maybe worn out.

Nothing destroys the value like a ratty malfunctioning top. For the MINI a broken top repair can exceed the value of the car.

spitfirebill
spitfirebill UltimaDork
4/3/17 3:40 p.m.

I do not really care for a convertible unless it is British or EYEtalian. Even then, its a love hate thing. You burn up when the top is off from solar radiation. My wife has a Solara convertible and I really do not care for it. It is noisy and somewhat flexible. It does have AC to combat the heat and has little outside air flow spilling into the cabin, unlike my Spitfire.

codrus
codrus SuperDork
4/3/17 3:42 p.m.

From a car collector's standpoint the rarer cars are usually the more valuable ones. For most cars the convertible involves a bunch of compromises meaning that they don't sell as well, so 40-50 years down the line when the car becomes of interest to collectors the convertibles are rarer and thus more valuable.

Previous to that point, for non-collector purposes, the convertibles may or may not be worth more, depending on what people are buying them for.

ae86andkp61
ae86andkp61 HalfDork
4/3/17 4:00 p.m.

In reply to SEADave:

I think you got the nail on the head in your own question when you said "normal everyday" cars. Most people don't want a convertible for normal everyday use. :)

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
4/3/17 4:05 p.m.

For some reason Porsche convertibles never really followed the "top goes down, price goes up" mantra. (Speedsters excepted) Mid-80's 911 Convertibles are still somewhat reasonable--- considering the rest of the line. E36 M3 Convertibles and C5 Convertibles are more for cruising, than hard-charging--- I'm sure that hurts the value. They are still pretty appealing for the $$ though......

I'm very much a wind in the face / convertible guy. The top on my TR6 hardly ever goes up--- I just use the tonneau, and unzip the driver-side when I head somewhere. In the year or so I've had the car--- I think I've driven it with the top up twice.

nutherjrfan
nutherjrfan Dork
4/3/17 4:10 p.m.

Doesn't Buick have a small convertible currently on sale? Either way I've only seen a pic of one in an article about cars going the longest unsold on dealer lots. Never seen an ad for one never mind one in the wild.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/3/17 4:19 p.m.
Woody wrote: If only Mazda would make a small, rear wheel drive two seat coupe...

I can sell you one. It's the RF with the power roof delete option. If you want to reenable the power roof, simply install the supplied fuse. If the extra weight bothers you, I also have a ragtop available with the same weight and balance, although the 93 lbs of ballast in the trunk may adversely affect trunk space.

It all depends on the kind of car. Performance car - the convertibles are rarely the version of choice, especially when they suffered in the conversion. Luxury cars, I suspect the ragtops are still the more valuable option. Old Cadillacs, for example. I don't pay enough attention to know what luxury ragtops are on the market now

Knurled
Knurled MegaDork
4/3/17 4:31 p.m.

I think convertibles were only popular because the people on TV drove convertibles because convertibles made filming easier.

You don't see people in cars much on TV anymore, and when you do, camera technology and filming techniques have come far enough that convertibles aren't needed.

racerdave600
racerdave600 SuperDork
4/3/17 4:33 p.m.

For the first 20 years of my driving life, I had almost exclusively convertibles. One day I woke and was done. I haven't driven one with a top down since. Every Miata I've had I put a hardtop on it and never took it off. I simply do not enjoy them anymore. I put a premium on a coupe as it is what I want to drive, and deduct points for the convertible as I have to source a hardtop.

Lately, every convertible I see more or less has an automatic too.

markwemple
markwemple UltraDork
4/3/17 5:02 p.m.

I prefer convertibles. To me, of the top doesn't go down it isn't a sports car. But to me there is a difference between a sports car and a performance/racing car. So, here's to cheap 996 turbo convertibles.

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
4/3/17 5:08 p.m.

I've never liked them. I'd rather have a fastback with a big removable sunroof. AKA Porsche 944-ish setup. I just dislike the almost complete lack of utility a vert has, whereas a hardtop fastback....put crap in the back...put a rack on the roof to carry your bike if you want, less concern about theft and leaks, and stiffer structure.

I'll say it a 1000th time...if Mazda had a fastback Miata, I'd have owned several of them by now....

Also from a more vintage POV, go look at e30s....you can find verts all day for under market value. Try finding a slicktop for anywhere NEAR market value - it's difficult.

tr8todd
tr8todd Dork
4/3/17 5:54 p.m.

I like my TR8 convertibles, but I love the coupes. Always have. My first TR8 was a coupe and I've had 6 of them over the years. Just picked up another one this past weekend. Problem is, they only made 2800 TR8s and of those maybe 400 were hard tops. Much better car to drive fast.

Woody
Woody MegaDork
4/3/17 6:19 p.m.
Keith Tanner wrote:
Woody wrote: If only Mazda would make a small, rear wheel drive two seat coupe...
I can sell you one. It's the RF with the power roof delete option. If you want to reenable the power roof, simply install the supplied fuse. If the extra weight bothers you, I also have a ragtop available with the same weight and balance, although the 93 lbs of ballast in the trunk may adversely affect trunk space. It all depends on the kind of car. Performance car - the convertibles are rarely the version of choice, especially when they suffered in the conversion. Luxury cars, I suspect the ragtops are still the more valuable option. Old Cadillacs, for example. I don't pay enough attention to know what luxury ragtops are on the market now

Can you fit a roll bar in there? I'm 6'1"...

Woody
Woody MegaDork
4/3/17 6:23 p.m.
Joe Gearin wrote: For some reason Porsche convertibles never really followed the "top goes down, price goes up" mantra. (Speedsters excepted) Mid-80's 911 Convertibles are still somewhat reasonable--- considering the rest of the line.

Mid 80's 911 Cabrios are engine, transmission and wheel donors.

Klayfish
Klayfish UberDork
4/3/17 6:35 p.m.

I love convertibles. Many things in life are better with the top down.

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