Tag Archives: soft top

Jaguar XK.. drop-top motoring at its best

Going topless in 2014… convertible buying guide

It’s summer, so our minds turn to just one thing… buying a convertible. Should you take the plunge and go topless this year? Here’s the Crawley Down Group’s essential guide to drop-top motoring.

Jaguar XK.. drop-top motoring at its best

Jaguar XK.. drop-top motoring at its best

What to look for when buying a used convertible



Top five used convertibles
Thinking about adding a drop-top to your fleet, but don’t know where to start? Relax, we’ve got our top five convertibles right here.

VW Golf Cabriolet

Golf Cabriolet… bringing some glamour and fun to the ever-so-slightly dull

Golf Cabriolet… bringing some glamour and fun to the ever-so-slightly dull

No surprises to see the Volkswagen Golf in the list of our best five convertibles. The standard car offers a well-balanced blend of fun and comfort, while losing the roof adds a little more glamour to the rather sensible-looking standard package. You can drop the top in just 18 seconds – while driving at speeds of up to 18mph. The folding roof does eat up the boot space, though, with its 350 litres dropping to 250 with the top down.
How much: Prices start from around £500 for a shabby 20-year-old version, but expect to pay £12,000+ for presentable example from the noughties.

Porsche Boxster Roadster

Porsche Boxster Roadster… impress the neighbours and deplete your bank balance

Porsche Boxster Roadster… impress the neighbours and deplete your bank balance

If you’re looking for the real deal when it comes to open-top motoring, then look no further than the Boxster. With its mid-engine layout bringing the sort of corner-munching amusement that most can only dream of, there are few cars that can compete with the Boxster’s fun factor. It’s also perfectly drivable for every day use, too. It has a range of powerful engines that all give excellent performance, along with a proper sports car sound track.
How much: Late 90s versions of these cars are available from around £3k and while they’re not as good as later models, they still have buckets of hi-octane wow factor. A word of warning, though, Porsche ownership rarely results in a trip to a garage that doesn’t come with a price tag of at less than £1,000. New versions will cost you will cost you from £15,000 for a five-year-old example.

Audi TT Roadster

Audi TT – if your head rules your heart

Audi TT – if your head rules your heart

If you like the Porsche Boxster, but the sensible side of your brain is telling you not to be so foolish, then the Audi TT is the perfect compromise. It’s got the looks, the glamour and pretty decent performance, too. It’ll also be much cheaper to run, with four frugal diesel powerplants on offer. However, if you’re looking for something a little sporty, why not choose the rapid petrol engine combined with Audi’s Quattro four-wheel-drive system? The TT has a fabric roof, but this is pretty efficient at keeping the noise out – even if some owners have reported leaks. There’s a new model on the way – so expect to pay a lot less for secondhand examples when it arrives.
How much: Expect to pay around £2000+ for an example from around the turn of the century. You’ll need to look out for water damage from leaky roofs. Make sure the car has its top in place and windows closed when you view it – otherwise the owner might be trying to hide tell-tale musty odours. Buying a five-year-old car will cost from £10,000

Mazda MX-5 Roadster

Mazda MX-5… point and shoot rear-wheel-drive anarchy

Mazda MX-5… point and shoot rear-wheel-drive anarchy

If you like your thrills delivered through the rear wheels then the point-and-shoot handling of the MX-5 will be the convertible for you. Okay, it’s not the fastest of cars, but the kart-like dynamics and low-slung stance will make give you a white-knuckled drive its more practical counterparts can’t come close to. Point this at a corner and prepare to have a rather large grin spread from ear to ear. For pure fun, this has to be our pick of the pack.
How much: Pay from £500 for a mid-nineties version. It might fall apart after a few months, but who cares? Okay, with a more sensible head on, buying a pristine five-year-old example should cost from around £5,000.

Mini Convertible

Mini Convertible… fun, but rear seats are useless

Mini Convertible… fun, but rear seats are useless

It’s not the most practical of cars, but that’s not really a prerequisite when it comes to choosing a convertible, in any case. The boot is tiny and the rear seats are just there for show. However, it is a great car to drive, with nippy engines and handling. The roof can drop in 15 seconds, so the unpredictable British weather shouldn’t be able to wreak too much havoc on your stylish interior. There’s also the option of getting it in Cooper S trim for those want performance as well as good looks.
How much: Expect to pay from around £3,500 for a 2005 example. In fact, the Mini is one of the UK’s cheapest convertibles to buy.

Roof or no roof
British weather can be a tad unpredictable, so is it really worth spending your cash on a convertible? Don’t worry, we can help. Simply check out our graphic with the UK’s sunniest and wettest locations. Our top tip would be to head online and search for car adverts with Caernarvonshire postcodes selling a ‘hardly used convertible…’

Graphic Liz Winstone

Graphic Liz Winstone

Top tips for tip-top drop tops

Don't be let down by your roof

Owning a convertible is great, but you’ll need to ensure you keep the roof in stellar condition – or expect rips and leaks to rain on your care-free drop-top motoring. Convertibles come with fabric, vinyl or metal roofs, and keeping them in good condition is a top priority. Metal lids are generally okay to wash as normal, but vinyl and fabric need a little more tlc. Here’s how to keep your drop-top in tip-top condition.


Here’s how to keep your vinyl top clean – without damaging it.

  • Use a lint roller to remove any dust or dirt from the vinyl before you start cleaning
  • Don’t use any form of cleaning brush on vinyl roofs – scuffs look bad
  • Use a shampoo that’s designed specifically for vinyl hoods. Use a pH neutral car wash
  • Apply a vinyl protectant to help preserve the colour of the roof and prevent the vinyl becoming brittle
  • Allow the roof to dry in sunlight before you put it in the garage


Drop some water on the roof – if it beads that’s good, but if the beading is uneven or the water soaks in, then it’s time to apply protectant. Here’s how.

  • Park the car out of the sun and wait until the fabric roof is cool to the touch
  • Use a soft brush to gently rub the fabric to remove any dirt
  • Applying a dry-clean spray will help prevent the top from becoming waterlogged
  • Use an aerosol-based protectant to provide protection against rain and UV rays


Try before you buy
Looking to upgrade the Ford Focus for sporty little convertible this summer? Why not test drive these topless monsters… Find out how much it’ll cost you to hire an open-top supercar for the night.
All prices from uk.hertzsupercars.com/

  • Porsche Carrera 4 GTS Cab: It’s one of the finest-handling cars on the road. How much: £785.30 for 24 hours
  • Lamborghini LP560-4 Spyder: Fancy a 5.2-litre Lambo for the day? How much: £1,013.30 for 24 hours
  • Ferrari California: Forget that new carpet - blow your cash on roof-down ride of a lifetime. How much: £1,070.30 for 24 hours
  • Audi R8 Spyder: 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds and a top speed of 194mph, Anyone? How much: £899.30 for 24 hours