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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

7 clean convertibles that are (still) under $20K

With the last of the snow melting up north, it's time to shut off the heat, open up the garage, and declare that driving season has finally arrived. Once spring has sprung, what better way to enjoy the open road than in a convertible?
https://www.hagerty.com/media/market-trends/hagerty-insider/7-clean-convertibles-that-are-still-unde...
137 REPLIES 137
WAKman
Intermediate Driver

My #3 2002 Boxster S was $15k with a new clutch, fixed IMS bearing, and $5k Fabspeed exhaust system. In my opinion, these cars are amazing values. And I happen to love Boxsters' looks--the modern-day 550 Spyder. As time goes on, 6-cylinder naturally aspirated Boxsters and Caymans will become more rare and desirable.
Chaunceyoj1941
New Driver

I had 1999 SLK. Sold it in 2015 with only 32000 miles on it for 4000. A lot of the problems were cosmetic. The dashboard needed to be replaced , it was plastic and has to be shipped from Germany. The center console started to crack and there were numerous other areas that just started to deteriorate.The top needed new pistons to raise and lower. The car was an automatic and held in first gets before it made a pop into second. It also had a few electrical problems. I live in FL and did run it up over 100 on Alligator Ally a number of times. All in all it was a great little car, just needed something larger with more space. It obviously was not driven much but the cosmetic problems were getting to be a pain ,and a lack of replacement parts didn’t cut it. The Local MB dealer was not very helpful, let’s face it they looked at the car as something not worth spending time on.
seinfeldbasslin
Intermediate Driver

surprising lack on Z cars on this list!
JoshHoward
Intermediate Driver

Ding ding ding!

Came here to say this.

Who the F needs the maintanence of a Porsche product when you can spend under 20k for a drop top Z that'll only need tires and oil for 100k miles.
Grumpyoldcoot
Intermediate Driver

Like....what "maintenance?" I have owned Porsches and have found them to be reliable if regular maintenance is performed......as it should be with any car.
salguod
Intermediate Driver

I just bought a 140K mile 1998 Boxster as a daily. Aside from worn struts, it drives fantastically. I came from a high mileage BMW E46 and the comment on the Boxster forum was that if I survived E46 ownership, the Boxster would be a cake walk (aside from parts prices). Described as the Toyota Corolla of Porsches.
autowriter
Detailer

The Z32 convertible was a tour de force, along with the other hardtop versions. If you can find a good one for <$20,000 that hasn't been hammered by an enthusiastic boy-racer buyer, snap it up. It would be superior to any of these.
kirkbrit
Pit Crew

DITTO
MustangJim
Technician

Topic was convertibles
MattK
Detailer

Convertibles were offered on the Z cars starting in 1993 with the 300ZX (Z32).
Snailish
Instructor

Now I want the article about "7 Dirty Convertibles That you should buy anyway"

Poor condition examples with pictures that reflect that.

Rationale as to why it makes sense to drop 5-10 grand on said beater. I'll start:

1969 Impala #5 condition $3-7k US
-A menacing grill sets the tone for one of the great boat-size Impalas. The convertible roofline suits this body best though your top is likely full of holes so just keep it down and bring an umbrella. Easily swapped to big block if your example isn't already sporting one, at this condition you are likely looking at something with a truck 454 on coat-hanger motor mounts --but who cares? Granny's quilt can cover that feral cat shredded interior. If the tired bench seat doesn't work for you swap in buckets from a late-model anything (there's room!). Nothing is cooler. Crank OMC's "How Bizarre" and point at yourself every time they sing "Is that a Chevy 69?".
hyperv6
Racer

Why all the Samurai push on here of late?

Someone have one and trying to push up values?

Snailish
Instructor

They should at least find a second photo to use.

Studenorton
Instructor

I've been convinced for years that that is how the "Tucker" movie got made.
It worked, too.
Grumpyoldcoot
Intermediate Driver

Samurais make good towed vehicles behind motor homes. Small, light, gas/tire friendly, and fairly easy to repair. My wife and I own a GEO tracker, which is really a Samurai from Chevrolet. We have had virtually no problems with the car, although it is no speed-demon. But...it gets over 30mpg and is light enough to be towed by our Navion motorhome.
JerV8Flat4
Intermediate Driver

My buddy got tired of looking for a side-by-side ATV for hunting and got a Samurai. Dirt cheap, barely bigger than the ATV, and street-legal. 

TG
Technician

A buddy of mine had one that he blew the engine in. He and a fried swapped the engine by slinging it to a 2x4 and they hoisted the 2x4 on their shoulders
DMcC
Detailer

My thoughts exactly. thx
ThePorscheMan
Detailer

Spelled "toad" wrong.
Billthecat707
Instructor

Actually a Suzuki Sidekick.
fixdcay
New Driver

Good start but with the S2000 climbing into space why is the 300zx Convertible just stagnating?
autowriter
Detailer

The Z32 didn't sell well when it was on the market, and there are few out there now that are unmolested. The turbo variants especially got the crap driven out of them. The NA cars are better when it comes to drivability. Some complained that the styling just didn't have enough panache, but I maintain it was probably the most beautiful GT on the market at the time. I'd choose one in gray, were I still in the market. On the road, it's nearly invisible, and from a quarter mile away it's hard for anyone to tell exactly what it is. But when it comes to driving, there were few better.
Zbenzman
Pit Crew

The Z car in my opinion is a better car then the Honda and a whole lot faster
DFDjr
New Driver

SAAB 900 and 9-3!

Still plentiful, modern enough to drive everyday seasonally, and plenty of room.
Zbenzman
Pit Crew

We sold a lot of Saabs It is a shame what GM to Saab.
Air_and_Water
Instructor

If by "shame" you mean "great because they kept them alive a lot longer than they otherwise would've been", then yeah. Was it masterful? No. Would Saab have died a much earlier death without their oversight? Absolutely. The last 9-5 was a fantastic car, but it was unfortunately a swan's song. C'est la vie.
Mal
Pit Crew

Surprised the S2000 isn’t mentioned. While many are expensive and some are appreciating rapidly, you can still readily find them for under 20K in good driver condition.

I paid 15k for mine in 2018 (red, stock, 76K miles) and felt it was a good but not great deal. While BaT may focus on the CR and ultra low mileage models, you can find regular examples elsewhere for much lower prices.

Absolutely love mine.
Beemerbob71
Pit Crew

The Spitfire is a fun, if underpowered, sports car. Most electrical issues have been ironed out by now and, though cramped, it is pretty easy to work on. My Royal Star motorcycle carries more luggage though! 🙂
Huntz-Hall
Intermediate Driver

The Buick Riviera Convertible 10 out of 10 times!
Bostwick9
Advanced Driver

Solstice. I am a Saturn owner and fan but the Sky ..... GM trying too hard to "Re-Imagine Saturn".
The styling on the Solstice is just perfect to me.
As for the cheap plastic everywhere.... A long GM tradition.... don't we all respect and honor tradition in the old car hobby ? /sarc
I can cope with that. Parts bin special, pieces used across GM corporate. That will work.
FlatSixGraphics
New Driver

You guys missed a good one.
Probably the most underrated hardtop convertible out there. The 2002-2010 Lexus SC430. It’s a fantastic car. 300HP V8, rear wheel drive and all that Lexus luxury and reliability.

turbobill
Intermediate Driver

I'm surprised early C4 Vettes aren't here. That market seems really depressed. If I didn't have so many vehicles now, I'd grab one of those.
GC
Intermediate Driver

Actually, good C5 convertibles can be had for less than $20K, and they would be far superior to anything on this list.
JoshHoward
Intermediate Driver

Corvettes aren't typically on a list like this because they make a billion of them.

But, you're right... the Vettes are just in another class of their own for value.
philc
New Driver

Hi, Newbie here.  Do I dare consider a 1984 w/Crossfire or go a bit newer with a 2011 Grand Sport convertible?  Also considering 1988 Mazda RX-7.

Snailish
Instructor

Which do you want more?

 

Which fits you best? (Vettes will be similar of course, but I have seen a set of seats completely change the experience of driving a vehicle).

 

Budget wise these seem like a bit of a range. If you only have 1 example of each to judge... buy the best car that needs the least work is usually good advice.

 

Corvette has huge club following, Mazdas are cool. More posters here will tell you to get a Vette.

Chris2161
Intermediate Driver

A couple of years ago I came across a 1996 Toyota Celica convertible. I paid around $3,200 for it. It was a blast to drive and being a Toyota it was reliable as can be. Although not mentioned here, these cars can be had for likely under 8k, never mind 20k. They won’t blow anything off the road, but the joy of a nice handling, reliable, daily driver convertible is all there.
Sadly, one day I was driving on a rural road minding my own business when a woman in a Nissan Rogue (talking on her cell phone) decided to make a left turn directly in front of me. I was able to make a split second maneuver (that Celica could handle!) and avoided a head on collision, but sadly that put me head on into a utility pole. The car exploded around me and I walked away. I was eventually awarded around 47k, but I still feel like I’d rather have the car than the money. I really liked that car. Go find one!
Trhinehart
New Driver

I know it's not a collectable yet, and might not ever be, but last year my wife of 50 years and I decided to get our second convertible that we have ever owned. We purchased a 2010 Chrysler Sebring Limited hard top convertible that's gold in color. Yeah, I know I'm a Mopar guy at heart but we really enjoy it. It's super clean, been garage kept all its life and fairly low mileage (62,000). Every-thing works as it should and we like the wind in our hair feeling. For less than $10,000 I feel like we got a good deal.
JJMJR
New Driver

I'll stay with my 1994 Mustang GT convertible!! Easy to maintain and get parts and a fun ride.
Postie-13
Intermediate Driver

If you want to "attempt" to impress people, using an automotive badge, the Porsche Boxster is the answer.
If you enjoy country drives, with "stop at the sude if the road" interlude, buy a Spitfire.
If you want to appear to have class, and deep pockets, buy the Alfa.
If you want to have a ball, and are a Chiropractor, or you have access to one, buy the Suzuki Samauri.
BUT
If you want to drive in the city, or an outing on country roads, with the wind blowing through your hair (if you have any), and want the positive thoughts of both a smile on your face, and the knowledge that you will arrive home, buy the Miata.
Boring, uneventful yet cute and reliable. A smile on every owners face!
warrene
Detailer

The '82 Buick maybe, the rest are nothing more than upside-down bathtubs.
Converts' were king in the '50's and into the '60's, back when cars were cars, not cookie-cutter uni-body junk with FWD. Only RWD converts' count, when you're talkin' real top-down cruising.
okfoz
Advanced Driver

The 79-85 Riviera was Buicks first FWD car...
Snailish
Instructor

Most 1929 sedans look very similar.

 

This is true in 1953... (Studebaker excepted)

 

This is true in 1964... (Put Galaxie tailights on an Impala and you could fool many)

 

Cookie-cookie is just the typical styling of a given period. Some cars stray outside the boundaries with details (AMC Matador). Vans and Pickups really exemplify this.

 

Usually something is the standout of a particular phase. 1956 F100, 1957 Chevy in popular imagination (though really the 55 was the innovative design for North America with that grill)... I generally lean towards Pontiac owning the crown of wearing stacked dual quad headlights the best, but others did it well, etc.

 

uni-body junk and fwd are two other/different topics.

 

I will say that unibody and junk aren't terms that are predictive of each other. Some "junk" ends up revered too.

 

Toronado gen 1 was one of the best (over) engineered vehicles ever.

hoser48
Pit Crew

Bought my 2006 Solstice new when they came out. Still have it and it as been my most fun to drive car ever since. I love it.
dough
Intermediate Driver

The Boxsters are a lot of fun for the buck, but maintenance costs for higher mileage ones will not be dirt cheap. Twenty thousand is the bar now, eh? I have a 1991 Chrysler's TC by Masarati with less than 2,500 original miles for sale for a lot less than that. Red, Italian leather, two tops, and cold AC. Not a thoroughbred, or a muscle car, or as ubiquitous/popular as others on this list, but no one else will touch the condition, originality, and miles for anything close to the price, and you're unlikely to see another one at C&C. They are out there, folks.
JBBearcat
Detailer

If you are not a mechanic, go with the Mazda.

The Spifire....maybe if you can find one from an old flat hat and stringback driving gloves guy before he goes into a nursing hime. If one hasn't been someone's pampered toy for the past 40 years, forget it.
And who thought of suggesting the Jensen Healy as an alternative?
When new, the doctor across the street had one. It's engine lasted six months. I doubt if they have improved during their decades as deferred maintenance specials.
Zbenzman
Pit Crew

I have been a used car dealer for 40 plus years. Sold a ton of MG-B and the chrome bumpers cars are much better driving car then rubber bumpers cars. I think after driving the Spitfire and the Suzuki Samurai and the Pontiac Solstice I would classify them as a poor excuse for a car. They did not stop building them because they ran out of parts. The Alfa Romeo is s sexy looking car. The Porsche Boxster lacks power you need to have the S model. Guys in shop call a Porsche Boxster a Porsche with panties.
Pilott
Intermediate Driver

In defense of Boxster, consider the source: If guys in shop had any brains they would not be working in shop, they would be Formula 1 race mechanics. Formula 1 race mechanics understand that a car is about balance. Braking and handling must be equal to go power.
Boxster's mid-engine design creates that balance that Boxster drivers love. I owned & tracked a 1998 Porsche 993 for 10 years. With its rear engine weight bias, that car worked very hard to maintain balance ... my 2000 Boxster S (now 12 years owned) does so effortlessly.
Hobiejohn
New Driver

Once again Hagerty leaves out the best sports car ever built in England the Triump T6 plants around for under 20k. SPITFIRES AT 15K I SEEN THEM ALL THE TIME IN GREAT CONDITION FOR 5K