For many of us, the very thought of a sports car conjures up a convertible top vehicle. We might think of a sports car as our opportunity to drive in perfect weather, top down, feeling a part of nature and closer to the driving experience.
Of course, not all convertibles are sports cars and not all sports cars are convertibles.
When one is considering the purchase of a sports car, they need to determine whether or not a convertible best suits their needs, regardless of their almost innate desire to experience the so-called open road. There are a variety of factors one should consider when deciding whether to buy a conventional hardtop vehicle or a convertible model.
Insurance costs are generally higher for a convertible. Convertibles are, initially, more attractive to thieves as their sliceable soft tops make entry a cinch. Also, whether we like to think about such things or not, there is a greater risk for serious driver and passenger injury in a collision while driving a sports car with a convertible top. This also drives up insurance costs. The hardtop shell provides an important layer of protection in many accident situations and one must consider both the reduced safety and high insurance costs associated with purchasing a topless model.
Weather is also a factor that must be considered. If one purchases a sports car, they need to have an idea of how much they would like to drive it. Some want to use their sports car as everyday transportation, others would be satisfied with a few summer romps every year. If you'd like to get fairly regular use out of your sports car, you should probably avoid the purchase of a convertible unless you live and drive in a fairly temperate climate. Of course, one can drive with their convertible top up during inclement weather, but convertible tops are generally not as well insulated as regular car tops making them less comfortable in colder weather. Additionally, the additional costs associated with convertibles (i.e. insurance) may not be justified if you are only able to go "top down" a few months out of every year.
One should also consider the greater risk of theft and vandalism associated with convertibles. Easy access is afforded to criminals even when the top is up and latched, making it a potentially poor fit for those living or regularly parking in areas where vandalism or theft could be a problem.
One may also want to consider "middle ground solutions." Some sports cars are available with removable hard tops, which can mitigate some of the weather-related challenges a convertible owner faces. Others may be satisfied with T-tops or a large sunroof as a compromise between an enclosed car and a convertible.
All of these factors should be balanced against one's interest in owning a convertible for aesthetic reasons. However, safety and expense analysis is not always perfectly suited for decision making. If they were, no one would drive sports cars. Instead they would opt for safe, cheaply insurable vehicles all of the time. For some sports car buffs, the idea of passing on a convertible due to cost or safety issues is unthinkable. The compromise solutions of T-tops and sunroofs may completely lack appeal. After all, there is an almost innate desire among many drivers to experience the open road and to catch as many summer rays as possible in their sports car. For these individuals, a convertible may be the only choice in which they are interested. For the rest of us, it may pay to at least consider some of the potential issues associated with convertible sports car ownership.