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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
BossGreg
Detailer

You can still find many Mustang convertibles and I imagine Camaros from a few decades ago and much cheaper to maintain. Also a Mustang ASC McLaren 2 seat convertible can be found cheap and they were twice the price originally and many still have low miles. Also maybe consider T top cars as an option to convertibles
4x4andmore
New Driver

Personally, I'm a little shocked. We have the Suzuki No offense small kind of fun to drive but they are a death trap on wheels, when you can find Jeep TJ 97-2003 (2004 best of the models) for under 20K easily. Then we talk verts. There is nothing like a drop dop sports car I have had my share. But I agree we need to add Targa tops and T tops into the mix. In all of this I would take an 81-83 280ZX with T-Tops over most of the cars Not as fast as the 300Z verts or some others but my god what a blast to drive. Factor out any 2+2 models. The name of the article should not be Convertibles but address a far reach of cars from Verts, Targa's to T-Tops. Sometime Haggerty tosses these articles out there too fast without a real in-depth look at the market. and for 944's they are out there easily for under 20K if you look, and you don't mind doing a little body work. I have seen 928 Verts in the 24-26K range over 20, but nice rides all the same no going to be an S model
JBaguley
Intermediate Driver

I can heartily endorse the Triumph Spitfire as a winning choice. I picked up a '72 Mark IV Spit last September that was fundamentally sound for a fair price, but also needed a fair share of attention to get it back into good running condition. The parts (front brake calipers, fuel tank, side mirrors, convertible top, carb rebuild bits, seat belts) were all readily available and reasonably priced, with nothing beyond what my basic home mechanical skills could handle. The end result is a remarkably fun little car, light and agile, a real smile generator. Definitely not a high speed cruiser with just 1295 cc on tap and gearing that keeps you in the range of 4000 rpm at modern freeway speeds (overdrive models are available). But for weekend flings about town, this cheery 1750 lb Brit is a joy to drive.
thedon
New Driver

My choice is my four seat 2009 SAAB 9-3. Great to go for a summer ride. I think you missed a bunch by of cars.
Sonettman
Pit Crew

Agreed. You can get into a really nice Saab 900 turbo convertible for $10-20K!
L-88
Intermediate Driver

We've owned 2 Saturn Sky's, both were very good cars. Both were 2.4's and were dependable and with combined 70,000 mi. not a single repair. Cupholder was a POS, but changed out a broken one and stopped using it.
Good MPG, fun and easy to drive, easy to maintain.
Both held their value and were sol at very close to purchase price.
We are currently looking for another low miles one, we think they are a great bang for the buck. (we have found an '07 with 18k we are trying to put a dealtogether on at about $14k)
FloridaMarty
Instructor

Porsche Boxter, Fat girls and mopeds, need I say more?
Grumpyoldcoot
Intermediate Driver

Well.....yes.....!
Pilott
Intermediate Driver

Porsche Boxster .... YES
Fat Girls ..... NO
Mopeds .... Depends on Condition ;o)
kirkbrit
Pit Crew

I'm appalled so many British cars failed mention. Spitfire, OK but the least IMHO of all the BMC and other Leyland offerings. A decent MGTD, vintage, traditional and classically "open" is going for $15K on its better day. I am AGHAST by this short list even given the limits of Hagerty. You dropped the ball on this one!
Dongress
New Driver

I can’t believe you left out the old Mercedes SL R107 series convertibles. Our 500SL (gray market) turns heads and flys like a fast go-cart. The US 380s, 450s, and 560s are all great cars. Many nice ones can be had for under $20K.
Alikat51
Intermediate Driver

My '96 NA pop-up up and down headlight Miata is my choice. Never seen snow and only rarely seen rain. I have Supercharged it and several other modifications, 200+ RWHP now. Several updated interior and exterior modifications.
Nvylaw
Pit Crew

Missing from list: R170 Mercedes SLK 230 and 320. Nice examples abound under $10k. With a set of tires and a few minor (self) repairs, I’m under $6k in my fully functioning 2001 SLK230. Fun to drive, good looking, rock solid, with folding hardtop. Biggest challenge was removing/painting interior plastic, but now looks new. And parts are in the sweet spot—available at inventory-reduction-but-not-yet-insane-collector prices.
LaserMark
New Driver

So no love for the BMW Z4? 😥
cslandry
Intermediate Driver

I agree. I had one for quite a few years. Fun car, low maintenance, and well under your $20K limit. I searched a while to find what I was looking for, but I replaced it last year with an '09 135i convertible 6-speed in excellent condition with only 16K miles on it. (for less than $15K)
FMB
Pit Crew

Agree. BMW 135i convertible has everything you would want in the others, and with the twin-turbo i6 it will out perform the rest!! Cheap, classy, and FAST! The “ultimate tanning machine@!
Galaxie352
New Driver

Here’s one more. Last year I bought a one-owner 23,000 mile 2006 Mercedes CLK500 convertible for $19,000. These are commonly seen for sale and are great cars with style, comfort, and power.
sclin10
Advanced Driver

"...nobody sells anything quite like the original Samurai in the U.S. anymore."
Possibly because they were junk. (INHO) We rented one in Hawaii and after driving it a few days, returned it for a Pinto (which proves how awful it was.).
Rick2
Instructor

If you think the Samurai was junk you were not driving it right. I had one for four years until I put it on it's side during a blizzard. It was the best thing around for cruising the woods but you may need a chiropractor.
FloridaMarty
Instructor

The fact that you exchanged it for a Pinto, makes me wonder when that might have occurred. Also a car rental dealing in Pintos, should have been your first clue.
Jimmyo
Intermediate Driver

Nah, I had one in the 80s. I sold it in 94 with over 85,000 miles. I was really hard on it, and it never broke and never failed. It still had the original brakes and clutch when I sold it. True, It was no fun on the highway but it would go where my friends in Jeeps and full size trucks wouldn't dare go. Best stock off-roader I've ever driven.
Bmorgue
Pit Crew

I drive a convertible that seems to be under the radar - a Lexus SC430, the marque's first convertible, produced 2001-2010. It's V8-powered, has a super-nice leather interior, fully-optioned for the era, and V8-powered on top of all that.

My particular car is a 2002 which turned 200,000 miles last month. I consistently get 20-21 MPG in city driving and engaging the power mode enables it to keep up with almost anything in a sprint. To top all off, the powered retractable hardtop cycles up or down in 18 seconds. When closed up, the top leaks not a single drop when going through a car wash facility.
joseph2904
New Driver

I have a 98 z3 I got for $2500 and drive it 30 minutes back and forth to school everyday and haven’t had a problem out of it. 20k for a Miata? Yeah no thank you
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

The Boxster, the Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky Turbo models and of course the Miata work for me.
DaveP
Intermediate Driver

How about the 57-72 Karmann Ghia convertibles? My wife's all-original 71 (red, and the paint is original, not faded to pink) gets more attention than my 70's era Vette - but maybe that's because she's driving it... Anyway, it's a really fun-to-drive, "real" sports car (ie stick shift, not automatic).
Air_and_Water
Instructor

Can you get a good* Ghia for under $20k nowadays?

*not rusty
Tomcatt
New Driver

That sexy little Alfa has always caught my eye, but never enough to own one. The Sky and Solstice are patriotic favorites, however put together with a lot of "globally sourced" parts. The Underdog in the sports car world.

The one I own is a 2001 Boxster S 6 speed. It reminds me of a "grown up" 914 (I own a 73 2.0) that you can drive all year in comfort. Sufficiently quick, excellent brakes, near perfect handling. It is approachable, easy to drive briskly, and has aged to be rather handsome to my eye. Did I mention that my wife and daughters love this car? The girls taught their boyfriends how to drive a manual transmission on it. It is always ready to go for a run with few complaints. And at 205K miles, it hasn't asked much from me. It needed timing chains and rails at 195K. It was on the original IMS, so that was upgraded along with the clutch. Other than brakes, tires, and lube it has been dead on reliable. So where is all the expensive maintenance work on Boxster's coming from? I sure haven't seen it.

For me, nothing even comes close.....(the mature folks in the audience will remember that ad from the late 80's)
gtokdx1
Detailer

The Alfa Graduates have always been so cool. My buddy bought a really nice one for his wife and later sold it. Made some good money. Regarding the Samurai, they were buckboards. Save the headaches (and backaches) and just get yourself a nice Jeep Wrangler TJ.
avideo
Detailer

I see C5 Corvette convertibles selling for under $20K here in the Phoenix area all the time. In fact, at most of the larger "all makes/all models" car shows and cruise-ins someone is trying to sell a C5.
Hard to beat a LT1 engine and a drop top on a car where service and parts avaiilability are raely an issue.
The convertibles have a nice size trunk for weekend getaways, and the convertible tops are easy to drop or put up in the case of rain. We used to own a 50th Anniversary convertible, and used to get 26-28 MPG on the highways at 70+ MPH.
KYColonel
Detailer

The C5 has the LS engine. The LT engines are in the C4.
richard2
Intermediate Driver

I liked the boxter and the miata and the saturn, thought prices were a bit over-the-top for the model years shown. Otherwise, it was truly a very sad lineup of very overpriced autos. I won't even comment on the jeep-like thing. Obviously someones' idea of a joke entry.

The spitfire was overpriced when used ones were $7K about 10 years ago. I've never seen one for sale that didn't have a bent wishbone in the front. That was a very weak link on those, and body droop was also a common issue. As well as the transmission. And the engine. Otherwise a nice looking car but not really worth the asking price.

Interesting no other British autos like MG's (A, B, GT) or Triumph TR-6. All much better IMO as value for the dollar.
JBimmer
New Driver

I’ll keep my 89 325i conv with 200,000+ miles. Still running strong! Bought in 95 with 76k mi. Hope to reach 300k before passing on to an ic engine lover!🏎
daffodildeb
Intermediate Driver

Which one would I pick? I voted with my wallet in 2018, 2002 986 S Boxster. Really fun car, high mileage (I turned over 100,000 miles a few weeks ago), but a blast to drive. And yes, it's even fun to pick up groceries when the employees load up both trunks! It helps if you have a lot of twisties, as it's an exceptionally balanced car, but that's what I have in central Arkansas, so...
VetteVet
Pit Crew

Literally, there are thousands of Mustang GT convertibles available for under $20K. Fun to drive, cheap to own, and unlimited parts still available. And yes, I own one (2003) I purchased last year for $6,000. Low miles and still like new. Best bargain for a ragtop! 😊
SteveNL
Detailer

Some might feel that the NA & NB Miatas aren't as cheap as they used to be. I've owned my NB Miata since it was new in 2003 and love the car. If you have ever torn into a German car built in the 1990's or later, you know what frustration is. The Boxster isn't a car for the home mechanic. But an NA or NB Miata is a joy to service. When you perform any service on the car, you grow to appreciate haw carefully all aspects of the car have been considered. Everything is easy on these cars. So much thought has gone into every aspect of design. In addition, build quality is far higher than current values would imply. A well cared for Miata will always get you back home. They are super dependable.

Not only do they have thoughtful design, they are fun to drive. Many companies offer aftermarket parts allowing the owner to make upgrades. I have aftermarket anti-sway bars in my car, along with after market springs and struts. These cars are excellent on back country roads.

Some of my old wrenching buddies suggest stuffing an LT1 in one, but they don't get it. Young people tend to admire my old Miata at the gas pump. But regardless of how anyone reacts, the Miata will probably be the last car in my collection to leave my ownership. As a car collector, I have often said that every car collector should own a Miata, so that they always have something fun to drive when everything else needs repair.
NWPantera
New Driver

So many good suggestions if the articles list was longer!
My add would be the Fiat 124 Sport Spyder.
Peppy, good sounding dual overhead cam motor and a top design which is so simple and works great. Easy to work on and decent looks. Many good examples can be had for under 10k.
billyt
Intermediate Driver

None, all of them are girls cars.
dcx
Pit Crew

Sold my white 1974 Eldo convertible last year. Or as a salesman once said, "the finest five passenger convertible ever conceived by General Motors". It needed more work than I wanted to put into it. It's greatest virtue was that EVERYONE turned and looked when it came rumbling down the street. Including drivers of the $100K+ droptops none of us can afford.
tygar
Pit Crew

Come on!! What about Vettes? I know they have gone up but I have bought a number of very low mileage Vettes (32k or less) in excellent condition, usually 1 or 2 owner cars for 15k or less. Especially easy to do in the winter. FWIW Tom
tygar
Pit Crew

Forgot Datsun 2000 & MGBs. Tom
Grumpyoldcoot
Intermediate Driver

I would choose the Boxster, but then again, I have owned four different Porsche models and am familiar with Porsche history. Samurais had a history of being unstable in fast turns; Consumer Reports hated them; the Triumph Spitfires were not highly-regarded.

The Porschephiles were known to sneer at the Boxsters, but only because they cost less than the 911s (that were considered "true" Porsches) and, as such, were not "worthy" of the marque. IMO, a Porsche with a rear trunk would be a welcome departure from one that had only a trunk in front.
espo70
Advanced Driver

No Thirdgen F-bodes or Fox bodies? Too obvious? I'm pretty sure nice examples can be had under 20k. Plus V8, vroom vroom.
BIGHOCK
Intermediate Driver

Owning several performance vehicles I still love my SPOSTICE GXP as my GO TO full sized street legal GO KART. Added the K&N free flow and that woke up motor to breath easier. A BLAST TO DRIVE ON SOME TWISTY ROADS !
oldbeb
Pit Crew

Fun article to read, but a some noted --- there are a number of "older" convertibles for under $20K that were not listed. However there is no denying that newer convertibles tend to have tops that seal and you can find someone to service them.

I have a 1966 Chevrolet Corvair convertible that is fun to drive, looks great, but I do all my own work because finding a competent mechanic is not easy. Decades ago I helped a buddy fix up a Datsun "Fairlady" 2000 roadster and I really enjoyed driving it, and it was quick compared to some of the "English" roadsters of the time AND reliable.

While not sporty, the land yacht American convertibles from the 60's are fun to cruise around in. You don't have to go fast to enjoy a convertible.

While not practical as an everyday car, everyone should own one once in their life.
JohninNC
Instructor

And under $10,000 category would be cool too. I do love the Samurai.... and the Riviera.
jastern1
New Driver

You forgot my favorite which I own 2 the Fiat 124 Spider. A blat to drive and easy to work on.
bpar73
Intermediate Driver

I'm starting my 6th season with $6000 2007 Saab 9-3 2.0t convertible. Lots of fun for the money!
Ajakeski
Detailer

Chrysler TC by Maserati. You can get those for next to nothing.
Softtopsarefun
New Driver

The 87 thru 93 Cadillac Allantes and 90 - 91 Buick Reattas would be great on this list.
mtdug
Pit Crew

The first three cars in this list you are setting yourself up for a boatload of maintenance, deferred and future, I like the sky/solstice twins, s2000 has gotten beyond 20k in my area,