In Defense of the Convertible

I’ve come across some articles (this one in particular) that bash on convertibles, and don’t pull the punches. 

I have also noticed, during my recent search for a new car, that American domestics have all but given up the convertible form factor. Your options, as of 2019, for a new convertible are limited to the following: The Buick Cascada, the Chevrolet Camaro, the Ford Mustang, and, even though I would barely count it as convertible, the Tesla Roadster.

Before I delve any further into refuting the alleged downsides of convertibles, however, I want to extoll their virtues.

The Highway Example

Imagine you’re driving down Highway 1 on the golden coast in the middle of summer. It’s a brilliantly bright day, heat tempered into comfortable warmth by the ocean air, occasional patches of mist brush against you, making your skin tingle. The wind is lightly tousling your hair, and you have a playlist of The Eagles and America music keeping you company.

Now, forget everything in the above paragraph. You’re still driving down Highway 1, but you have no idea what it’s like outside b/c you don’t have a convertible. The A/C is sterilizing the ocean air, the roof prevents any sun from hitting you, and your windshield wipers dispel any mist on the windshield. It’s a clinical, detached experience, devoid of anything that makes driving enjoyable.

That’s a large difference, but I think it best illustrates why you’d want to own a convertible. It’s not because it’s the fastest, or the most practical, or the safest. 

It’s because a convertible lets you enjoy the world as you drive through it. It’s an immersive experience, and takes the monotony out of even the most boring of commutes, time and again. 

But back to talking about convertibles

I was a little cheesed that there’s not as much in the way of convertible selection as there used to be in America. I can understand why. 

  • They’re not as safe as their full body counterparts.
  • They’re not really practical for a family. (see the rise in SUVs)
  • They’re typically more expensive than their full body counterparts.

I’d like to imagine that, even given the above facts, convertibles still appeal to the rebel in all of us, even more so than motorcycles. I’m going to rebut most of the claims made by Aaron Miller in the article I’ve linked to above in an effort to make the convertible more attractive.

1 – He complains about bird poop

This is laughable as argument number 1. I truly believe you’re more likely to get hit by bird poop walking in and out of work than you are by sitting in a convertible. 

2 – He says: “Putting the top up is an enormous pain”

Not really. I push a button, and the car takes care of the rest, even rolling the windows up. I don’t think I’d ever consider it a “pain” or even and inconvenience. It’s just part of parking a convertible if you had the top down.

3 – He states: “It rains”

Um… duh? Of course it rains, that’s when you don’t put the top down. I’ve never had either of my convertibles leak on me, and one was almost 20 years old.

3.1 – He complains about trunk space.

Neither of the two convertibles I’ve owned have had tiny trunk spaces. In fact, my Chrysler 200 has a massive trunk when you’re not storing the top in there, and even when you are, there’s still a decent amount of space.

4 – He mentions mold

Could this not happen to any car that gets water in it, maybe even by means other than rain through the top (e.g. snow on your shoes).

5 – He claims they’re slow

I didn’t buy my car to go fast. I bought a convertible to cruise with the top down and enjoy it. And honestly, my 200 isn’t going to be breaking any land records, but it’s no slouch of a car, either.

6 – He gives some random, outdated example

Not even worth a response.

7 – He says convertibles are flexible

On this point, and on point 11, we are in total agreement. It can be unnerving to feel your car “flex” a little from time to time, but you get used to it. This is a byproduct of the convertible form factor, and unavoidable without being re-engineered.

8 – He says “We don’t want to see you”

I cannot tell you how much I don’t care.

9 – He claims the shapes suck.

This is largely subjective, but I have to disagree. The new Mustangs, Camaros, and the Tesla Roadster look pretty sweet. I’m not a big Buick fan, but even the Cascada looks pretty sharp.

10 – He says you can’t hear the radio

This complaint leads me to believe the author has never ridden in a convertible made within the last 20 years. My 2000 Camaro had a sound system w/two modes. The first mode was for driving with the top up, and, surprise, the second mode was for driving with the top down. You had to manually toggle it, but it worked very well. My 2012 200 also has this feature, but it’s toggled automatically.

11 – He says: “Sunburns Suck”

Again, …duh? Sunburns can happen in convertibles, but can also happen if you leave your arm on the side of the car with the windows down. 

I would hope that I’ve refuted enough common complaints to restore someone’s interest in convertibles. If nothing else, I’d like to be able to send this to someone next time they get snarky about convertibles.