News

Considering a Convertible. Mistake?

Discussion in 'General Automotive Discussion' started by F1Ace, Jan 18, 2008.

  1. F1Ace

    F1Ace F1 Rookie

    Mar 15, 2004
    2,963
    Full Name:
    Wes
    I am thinking about getting my first convertible for the summer.

    The ones I have been looking at (on-line) often seem to have worn or cracked leather seats.
    So the thought occurred to me that maybe life isn't as "care free" as it would seem with Convertibles.
    That maybe I'm not supposed to leave the top down too long or the sun will kill not only the seat leather,
    but the leather on all horizontal surfaces, so seat covers wouldn't solve it either.

    So am I getting the right idea? Are convertibles too much hassle? You know, go to the park,
    put the top up, when leaving, put the top down, etc.?

    I like having a mint car, so will it be impossible to keep it that way if I really want to 'use' it?

    Comments?

    Thanks!
    Wes
     
  2. To remove this ad click here.

  3. wingfeather

    wingfeather F1 Rookie

    Feb 1, 2007
    3,493
    rock bottom
    Buy a 348 Spider. You'll be quite happy :)
     
  4. UroTrash

    UroTrash Three Time F1 World Champ
    Consultant Owner

    Jan 20, 2004
    33,782
    Purgatory
    Full Name:
    Internet Poseur
    Converts are great for putting arounds in.

    For real driving get a coupe.
     
  5. Bullfighter

    Bullfighter Two Time F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Jan 26, 2005
    20,700
    Fullerton, California
    Full Name:
    Jon
    I love convertibles, but they are harder to keep perfect. I've had a few: two targas (Fiat and Ferrari), three softtops (MGB, VW, Porsche 993), and folding hardtop (MB SLK).

    Thoughts:

    1. Sun kills leather, but it also kills your skin -- mostly I have the top off/down later in the day or earlier, not a high noon.
    2. I always put the top on/up when I park the car for more than a few minutes. If you don't have the patience for a manually fitted top (like a targa), get an automatic top.
    3. Avoid those cheap-o plastic windows. They don't last, require kid gloves when cleaning and spend most of their lives with increasing numbers of scratches. In Ferrari-land, this means look for the GTS models and avoid the Spiders. In normal cars, most of them now have glass rear windows.
    4. Buy a car where the top goes up and down easily. When I had my 993, the snap-fit boot was a hassle, and ultimately I got tired of bothering with the top - which defeats the purpose.
    5. Make sure you're OK with having the world stare at the back of your head. I greatly prefer the targa design because it offers some privacy (and the roof panel lasts for decades instead of a few years for a cloth top).
    6. Buy a dark colored top, not white or tan, unless you want to dedicate your life to cleaning the top.
    7. Plan your drives. Sitting in LA traffic during rush hour in a convertible isn't fun, and probably equivalent to smoking a few packs. Backroad driving, OTOH, is fantastic.

    That said, real sports cars have historically been convertibles (XK-SS, 550 Spyder, 166, 212, etc. etc. etc.) You've gotta try it. ;)
     
  6. James_Woods

    James_Woods F1 World Champ

    May 17, 2006
    12,722
    Dallas, Tx.
    Full Name:
    James K. Woods
    My GF Mai has had a Miata for 8 years now; 1999. It has been kept outside on our circle drive all that time - Texas heat, Texas cold, and she drives it to the masstrans every day and leaves it in the lot to go downtown to work.

    It is still in remarkably good condition, for a driver. There may be several factors - The top is pretty high quality man-made black fabric, not like the old simple canvas. The rear window is real glass, with defrost wires. The interior is nylon mesh, not the higher cost leather. We ordered it this way deliberately for the wear factor.

    Convertible for daily driver is a lot different story now than it was in the snap-on side curtains and acetate rear window days, IMHO.

    Would not hesitate to do it again, but then I am not living in Nome, Alaska...
     
  7. To remove this ad click here.

  8. wingfeather

    wingfeather F1 Rookie

    Feb 1, 2007
    3,493
    rock bottom
    +1

    Don't worry about putting the top up when you're away from the car... that is what insurance is for :)

    Nothing beats going 160 MPH with the top down!
     
  9. toggie

    toggie F1 World Champ
    Owner

    Nov 30, 2003
    18,453
    Virginia
    Full Name:
    Toggie (Ron)
    #7 toggie, Jan 18, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Get a convertible as a second fun car and keep it in a garage when it isn't being used.
    That way, you almost never will be putting the top up.
    I've owned my 65 Corvette for over 10 years now and I've only put the top up a couple of times. Strickly a sunny day car. :)
    Image Unavailable, Please Login
     
  10. James_Woods

    James_Woods F1 World Champ

    May 17, 2006
    12,722
    Dallas, Tx.
    Full Name:
    James K. Woods
    That is the Queen for a Day class; they can be used as drivers, too...
     
  11. F1Ace

    F1Ace F1 Rookie

    Mar 15, 2004
    2,963
    Full Name:
    Wes
    #9 F1Ace, Jan 18, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Good points, thanks.

    Below is one of the ones I was considering.

    It has a mint interior, but I am wondering if I use it whether I will be the one to ruin it.

    It does have the advantage of a dark top and a glass rear window. And having had an XJS for years
    I am not frightened by the notion of Jaguar owndership. And rides would be evening but of course the
    usual Saturday running around as well, where one doesn't want to bother with putting the (auto) top
    up and down for every stop. The result of which of course is the top would be down for hours even
    at mid day. Which, even though I'm in Canada, where it (the sun) is not so intense, isn't completely
    harmless.

    I dunno, it looks like an awefull lot of fun, but I don't know if I am up to the hassle.
    Image Unavailable, Please Login
     
  12. To remove this ad click here.

  13. wingfeather

    wingfeather F1 Rookie

    Feb 1, 2007
    3,493
    rock bottom
    I'd say the engine & Lucas electrical will be more of a concern than the top...
     
  14. pdavid

    pdavid Karting

    Dec 15, 2005
    206
    Look into how the folding top works. And try to do it yourself before taking the car home.
    Some cars are easier than others. Cars with automatic retractable tops would be the most convenient. You probably won't like targas, as those are more of a hassle. Much more so than pressing a button like in some cars (SLK, SLs). But it's all relative, right? If the design is smart and it's easy to put on/take off, it probably won't be that bad.

    If you see A TON of latches and straps, run away (Zonda F roadster - hah). Hahaha

    I'm sure there are products out there that you can buy to help keep your interior and soft top as close to pristine as you can get with regular use.

    A few other things to consider with open driving:
    1.) Wear sunblock. The sun is at its strongest during mid-day. A good rule of thumb is to look at the shadows being cast by objects. The shorter the shadow the strong the sun is. If the shadow is as long or longer in relation to the height of the object... then you're good to go.

    2.) In the event that you decide to just leave the top off while the car is parked, be aware of how warm it is. The sun can very quickly heat up your seats and your shifter. Just to be safe, keep some kind of small towel in the car. If you don't want to sit around and wait for the interior to cool, you can at least put the towel over the shifter and keep your hand safe.

    3.) Invest in some ear plugs. Depending on the car wind noise can be very loud. If you decide to go on a long trip with the top down, you can damage your ears.

    4.) If you blast your music to compensate for wind noise... be sure to lower the volume back down when you're in slower areas. Keeps your ears from being drowned by loud noises... and helps you be a little more considerate to others around you who may not appreciate the loud music coming from your car.

    5.) If you have long hair... try and keep it tied back! I made the mistake once of just having my hair down and after my drive... I had a head full of tangled hair. Not fun. Reminds the ladies, too! Depends on the car, though. I think cars with a rear deflector screen/glass helps keep the air inside the cabin a bit more stable. It helps a bit.

    6.) Be mindful of what BRAND of car you're driving. If you decide to go for a more ostentatious car... there is a possibility that you will encounter some type of jealousy out on the road. I've read about drivers having objects thrown in their car while driving... or while their car was parked with the top open. Be careful. But I think this is a really rare occurrence, though. But don't let that stop you from enjoying your car. It hasn't stopped the countless number of other people enjoying their open air cars :)
     
  15. WILLIAM H

    WILLIAM H Three Time F1 World Champ

    Nov 1, 2003
    34,891
    Victory Circle
    Full Name:
    HUBBSTER
    I love convertibles, its a much different driving experience than being in a box

    They are tons of fun in the summer

    for hard driving a coupe but for fun its hard to beat a drop top
     
  16. James_Woods

    James_Woods F1 World Champ

    May 17, 2006
    12,722
    Dallas, Tx.
    Full Name:
    James K. Woods
    True on the mechanism; again modern is better. You can do it with one hand in the Miata. Sitting down. A Corvette targa top used to take 20 minutes or so with tedious bolts and a little ratchet wrench. A Porsche Targa of old used a neat little pair of levers and took maybe a minute or less. Modern Targas like my 993 are really like a big powered glass sunroof.

    Here in this very thread you can read a story of an "object" thrown in the car while parked. A full lengh (and lit up) chinese braid of firecrackers - into the Miata at a Fourth of July party when one of the stepkids had it out. Top was up, but windows were down - unlucky because if the top were down it might have bounced out. As it was, two new seats, new floor mats, and a console cover.

    Kid that did it said he was sorry, he thought they just made a noise and did not know they might burn a hole in something. I recommended to his parents that they might need to have his science teacher hold him back a year or so...
     
  17. Bullfighter

    Bullfighter Two Time F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Jan 26, 2005
    20,700
    Fullerton, California
    Full Name:
    Jon
    If you keep the top up when you're not driving it, the interior will last a long time. You can also use a recommend leather care product to keep it from drying out.

    Also, if you really like the car and leather gets scruffy, you can always replace the leather. An XJS is a nice car, but it's not a 'one-of-six-made' vintage Ferrari. I.e., you won't go to Hell for replacing the leather.

    Or use seat covers.

    My .02...
     
  18. senna21

    senna21 F1 Rookie

    Jul 2, 2004
    3,317
    Los Angeles, CA
    Full Name:
    Charles W
    +1 My mother used to have an Hess & Einhart (sp?) XJS convertible which is the first year that Jag officially sold that model as a convertible. That top differed from the Factory top as it wasn’t padded and it fit lower into the body. There was never any issue with the top or the interior. It was a pure joy to drive or be a passenger in. Silky smooth acceleration and ride. She was the second owner of the car and the only issue was the top was beginning to fray at the sides where there was a folding point. It seemed the fabric would rub against something when it went up or down. She owned it from 1990-92 and I believe it was an 86 model. I've seen some Boxsters with the same issue.

    She eventually had to sell the car due to increasing maintenance cost. She lives in Dallas and having that big V12 shoehorned in there with all its heat, then add 100deg summers, A/C running at full tilt and seals started to get dried out and some electrical issues began to crop up as well. If it wasn't for that I'm sure she'd still have the car. As you say if you're not swayed by those kids of issues, I'd say get the car. You'll love it, it's certainly not a "sports car" but a very nice GT cruiser.

    Oh, and the top was unlatch touch a button and forget about it. Really nice.
     
  19. fluque

    fluque Formula 3

    Jul 30, 2004
    1,709
    Above 2240m
    Full Name:
    Fernando
    How about a convertible + a hard top? My father has a BMW Z4 with a hard top and has proben to be the best of both worlds.
     
  20. Mang

    Mang F1 Rookie
    Silver Subscribed

    Jul 11, 2007
    4,865
    Tahoe
    Full Name:
    Mike S.
    #17 Mang, Jan 18, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    go all the way with your "mistake" and acquire an Alfa Spider....mechanicals are a nightmare, but when set up right - an absolute treat to drive around with the top down or up - you can throw it around at a stoplight.

    Feels like a Ferrari, looks and sounds like a Ferrari, but at Fiat prices..........and quality :(
    Image Unavailable, Please Login
     
  21. F1Ace

    F1Ace F1 Rookie

    Mar 15, 2004
    2,963
    Full Name:
    Wes
    Haha......I was already looking for a supplier for new leather.

    I originally got the bug for this idea (of a convertible) from admiring the new Caddy XLR, best of both worlds and all that.
    But I can buy an XJS Conv. for considerably less than the difference I'd pay from my current car. In other words, I could
    keep my current car, buy the XJS, and have $15,000.00 left over. Crazy.

    Good point about the hearing thing. From my many hi-speed miles on the snowmobile I already did some similar damage.
    I don't know if my ear would be up to the wind noise now that you mention it. An interesting twist. Thanks for the tip.

    Thinking.....
     
  22. Bullfighter

    Bullfighter Two Time F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Jan 26, 2005
    20,700
    Fullerton, California
    Full Name:
    Jon
    If you leave the hard top on all season, sure. But those are a hassle to remove/install, usually look bad, and then you have to store them carefully somewhere. The stupid hard top was the reason I decided not buy a Merc 560SL a few years back -- loved the car for cruising, but didn't need the hard top, storage rack and ceiling winch in the garage.
     
  23. Protouring442

    Protouring442 F1 Veteran
    Rossa Subscribed

    Sep 5, 2007
    8,583
    Harriman, TN
    Full Name:
    One Stupid SOB
    My wife and I just bought an SLK230; now that's the best of both worlds! Older ones have depreciated quite nicely too. This replaces her Miata convertible, and just like the Miata, will be her daily driver.

    I, on the other hand, have a 1989 asc/McLaren convertible, a car that requires a bit more work than the SLK when it comes to operating the top. This is our evening/weekend car.

    We also have a 1972 Olds 442 convertible, but it's not finished yet. One day soon it will be ready for some top down fun!

    In any case, my point is that I have had convertibles for my entire driving life, and I love them. Yes, they can be a bit more work, and there is the added expense of the top and its mechanism, but I wouldn't want to be without one.

    Shiny Side Up!
    Bill
     
  24. 62 250 GTO

    62 250 GTO F1 Veteran

    Jan 9, 2004
    7,732
    Nova Scotia Canada
    Full Name:
    Neil
    Convertibles do get a lot of road dirt and other crap inside them due to the open top but a few bucks a month for a detail can solve the cleaning issue. It depends on how much you want a convertible.

    P.S. Most of the tops I've seen are fully automatic... = no hassle.
     
  25. F1Ace

    F1Ace F1 Rookie

    Mar 15, 2004
    2,963
    Full Name:
    Wes
    I tell you, it is a tough decision.

    That is a lot of car for very little money. I just worry that buying a Jag is a
    heck of a lot easier than selling it later. So even if I'd like to try it for a year
    or so, I wonder how easy it would be to 'reverse' the decision.

    The SLK idea was interesting. I'm gonna give that more thought, but there's
    something nice about a larger car that I like.

    But for a weekend treat that sure is a nice car. Frustrating.
     
  26. Gilles27

    Gilles27 F1 World Champ

    Mar 16, 2002
    13,337
    Ex-Urbia
    Full Name:
    Jack
    I've always loved/preferred convertibles. Despite the drawbacks, I'll take the top-down capacity any day. My first car was a Rabbit (Golf) Cab, then a '65 Mustang 289. When I got my 328, I loved that it had the targa top, even though it's a different experience. Well, all 3 are long gone, but my Ford Escape has a sun roof!
     
  27. Auraraptor

    Auraraptor F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Sep 25, 2002
    11,532
    MO
    My biggest issue with the Jags is tranny. Simply put...WIIIIIDDDDDEEEEEEEEEE gears kill any hint of sportiness.
     
  28. F1Ace

    F1Ace F1 Rookie

    Mar 15, 2004
    2,963
    Full Name:
    Wes
    What year of Jag are you referring to?
    The early ones had one less gear than the later ones.

    But in any case, I'm not looking for a 'mountain stormer'. Just a 'putter around town' car.
     

Share This Page