In The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman’s manic ride to rescue his true love from the altar is one of the iconic images of American cinema — it takes place in a convertible. Thelma and Louise make their run for freedom in a convertible. Nick Nolte’s renegade cop of 48 Hours drives an old Cadillac with the top always down.
The message is clear: if you want cool, racy, stylish, and a bit outlaw, you don’t do it in a motorized cocoon — you do it in a ragtop. Convertibles are just more fun to drive. But they’re also more expensive.
First, are they safe?
Many think that it is due to safety concerns that convertibles are more expensive to insure. While it is true that convertibles generally do carry higher insurance premiums, it’s not for safety reasons. The conventional wisdom is that with the new safety standards, convertibles are nearly as safe as hardtops. Though they are inherently less stiff than hardtops, they are reinforced to compensate. New devices, from pillars that pop up in a rollover to side-curtain airbags will allow your parents to get a good night’s sleep. Even the Car Talk guys, known for being fanatical in their devotion to safety issues, claim that the convertibles are “pretty darn safe.”
The initial price tag
But there are other factors besides safety. For starters, that top is going to mean a lighter wallet. The Audi TT convertible, for example, is $2,000-$3,000 more expensive than the coupe. The Corvette convertible is a staggering $7,000 more expensive than the coupe (but who gets a convertible for practical reasons?)
Why convertibles are more expensive to insure
And the costs will continue afterwards. A Ford Mustang convertible will cost about $200 more per year to insure than the hardtop. Part of this is due to theft: many models of convertibles are among the most stolen of all cars. The Chevrolet Corvette convertible had the second-highest loss payment rate of all cars. Additionally, soft tops are generally not found on econocars, but on high-performance and sports cars, which naturally carry higher insurance rates.
But then again, why be practical?
Like many of life’s pleasures, if you have to have it, practical concerns will take a back seat to desire. An extra $200 in insurance probably won’t kill you if you can already afford a convertible. And on those summer days when the weather is perfect, you’ll be getting a tan while the drivers of hardtops will be turning green.
10 most affordable convertibles*
1. Volkswagen New Beetle, $21,025
2. Mazda Miata, $22,363
3. Ford Mustang Convertible, $24,020
4. Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder, $24,372
5. Chrysler Sebring Convertible, $24,670
6. Toyota Camry Solara Convertible, $24,980
7. Toyota MR2 Spyder, $25,055
8. Honda S2000, $33,060
9. BMW Z4, $33,795
10. Audi TT Roadster, $35,160
Please note that this description/explanation is intended only as a guideline.
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