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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?
137 REPLIES 137

Whoa! Buick Riveria? REALLY? Hey, you missed the Chrysler K Cars with the woodie sides. 🤣

Seriously, ya did miss one of the best, and that’s the Chrysler Crossfire SRT6 convertible. Not only will it walk every car on your list, it’s better looking and you can find them for $10k-$15k
Intermediate Driver

I've made this choice three times. And it's always the same. Miata.

My pick is the solstice. Other then that I cannot get over the allure of the suzuki samurai. Maybe my head was in the sand when they were new but I thought they were not so good.
Intermediate Driver

What about the 1998 through 2005 SLKs?
There are tons to choose from 4s, 6s, & 8s.
Some of the SLK55 AMGs will creep above $20,000, but the others are really pretty affordable.
You can get a good car and a parts car for under $20,000.
Intermediate Driver

You can still get a nice MG-TD under 20K
Intermediate Driver

Miata's are the most raced production cars in the US. my racer buddies have searched out and scavenged most every pick and pull for cars, body parts, drive trains etc. Used to be totally affordable, but the capabilities have driven a properly race prepped Miata into the high $20s. Four or so classes to race in.

If you are looking for something that an average- to larger-statured person can actually fit in (aside from the Riviera of course)... A decent condition Allante can be had for 10K all day long
New Driver

Duh!!!! Where is the Vette???? I'd put my 87 up against every car on your list for a plethora of reasons. Come on guys I thought you were better than that.
New Driver

How the heck did "Flipper" aka Suzuki Samurai, make the list? I owned a hard top and top speed was 65, no redeeming features at all!
Recall Consumer Reports testing of this death trap? I don't wait to sell mine.

I can’t believe I’m going to admit this - because I’m too young, but I really liked the Buick Rivera when they were new (and I was 19) and I like them even more now. It was really the last of the full size convertible and maybe that’s the draw. It’s the exact opposite of most of the other convertibles I’ve owned. Dang… this gray hair is getting to me.
Intermediate Driver

I think one of the best buys under $20,000 is a Chrysler Crossfire SRT6 convertible. They are made by Karmann in Germany with hand built supercharged engines yielding 330-350 hp. Mine is a blast to drive and most people don't know what it is but always compliment it. To top it off they only sold 1200 Crossfire SRT6 convertibles in the US so the value upside is significant. I also have a Honda S2000 which I have owned since 2004. The two cars are significantly different but I love to drive both of them.

I purchased my Saturn Sky Redline 15 years ago. It still gets lots of looks after all these years and I've had no troubles with it. It has very little room for anything other than two people, but it's a load of fun. I only drive it to car shows and occasional weekend cruises. Pics of my Sky Redline
However, if I had to choose any car on this list, it would be the Riviera.
Pit Crew

I bought a 1997 Red Boxster a couple of years ago. Loved that car, loved walking out to the garage and just looking at it, what a great looking car. Then some SOB Tboned me and that was the end of that. Now I have a C5 Corvette, nice car but I miss the Boxster.
Advanced Driver

Riviera. Just don't like driving or working on little box type cars, or any older German cars, period. Driven, repaired and maintained many of them over a 50 year career. The Buick is a perfect match for the (mostly) wide open American road.
New Driver

One really cool little car that I think people are missing is the Toyota Celica's from 1995-1999. They are really well built, classic styling and extremely fun to drive, especially with the 5-speed manual gearbox. They are getting harder to find but still under $10K for a decent car. These cars can be bought with 175K-200K miles without a lot of issues.
New Driver

Well, given I like moving on to something different every few years, I could see myself enjoying all of these! I have a Miata RF now as a daily driver and love it, so off this list I’d say the Triumph or the Sky Redline. I’d be just as happy with a Solstice GXP though.

I own a 73 Bronco with a cloth top .
Does that count ?

I’ve also owned two samurai’s
Cheaper than an ATV , and street legal . Rough ride though .
Intermediate Driver

One thing missing from those Italian sportscars is that they tend to rust to nothing over the years. I speak from experience on owning a Fiat Spyder. I'll keep my 02 Trans Am convertible thank you very much.

First let me complain about the Buick Riatta not being mentioned, If you are going for the drop top Buick I think it is the better choice.

I'm also a little upset about the condition 3 Miata not being mentioned. I have a coworker who is letting one go for around $8,000 right now and with less than 100,000 miles it has a lot more years left in it. I personally have a 93 Miata with over 180,000 miles on it and I honestly haven't worried about getting into it and driving wherever I need to go except when I realized the timing belt was over ten years old and had about 80,000 miles on it, with that replaced two years ago I have no worries whatsoever about the reliability of the car and expect to get at least 60,000 miles out of it before any major work. Condition 3 bonus, I have no problem driving the car and not worrying about making it less valuable, the only way I could lower the value is a major accident or a blown engine taking it to condition 4.

Except for the Miata and Solstice I haven't seen any of these cars on the road in decades, and I suspect that they would be very difficult to locate.
Pit Crew

How about the Chrysler Crossfire Roadster: quick, European technology, body by Ghia and available for less than 20K? An oversight or prejudice?
Intermediate Driver

I think prejudice.

Intermediate Driver

A Triumph TR6 would be my choice. 6 cylinder power, room for an adult driver, great British looks, and parts are easy to find (if it should ever break). Service is simple and almost fun.

If you expect to find a really nice example for under $20K, good luck. Maybe $19,999? Cheers
New Driver

Toyota MR2 Spyder fits the bill as well
Pit Crew

Had a Solstice. My current rag top is a 2012 BMW 128i that I paid $13k for in September 2019, after convertible season. One owner, 62k miles, clean car fax.
Pit Crew

Well I have had convertibles since the 60s & some of the most fun to drive are the Datsun 2000, & MGBs, especially mods. My current 75K miles, 80B is bored to 1950, upgraded with Electromotive Fuel Injection & 280Z 5 Speed cost $9500 a few years ago, my 2000 sold in trade at $8000. Lets just say it hauls ass, sounds like racer when that EFI punches. My Datsun 2000s were screamers on mountain roads & could beat most everything on those courses. The current B was acquired in a 3 way swap/$ deal with my latest 2000 with 2 buddies. You can also get decent early Mustangs for that. (not my 68! 331 stroker, built AOD, power, air, power top, all upgraded engine parts, chrome alum, etc.), but, I paid $14k for it & all the body work had been done & it had all original parts, ran good, & had 98K miles (Documented), 1 owner car. I know its tougher now, but look for deals, they are out there. Forgot to mention, a number of Corvette convertibles, less than 36k mi., under 15K, wife's current Vette, 2000, I owner 32kmi, $13,950, from a Chevy dealer 5yrs ago. That probably would be hard to get now, but deals are out there.
New Driver

Gotta vote for the only convertible I ever owned. An 82 Fiat X/19. Bought used in 92 for 3k with 15k miles, drove it for 15 yrs in summer only and then sold it for 3k to another enthusiast who wanted to make it look pristine. I put 30k on it while I owned it. Never once left me stranded and I even autocrossed and rallied it a few times. Loved that car! The looks you would get from folks. If you can find one that isn't a rusted hulk buy it. Truly a car way ahead of its time. But, you must get a later model with the 1.5L and fuel injected if you want to be more worry free and have even a modicum of power.
Advanced Driver

Around here -- the Pacific Northwest -- you can still find a nice C5 Corvette convertible for <$20,000. A buddy asked me to find one for him last year, and I found a red one in good condition, well maintained, that had belonged to the local president of a Camaro club, and he got it for $15,000. Had a rip in the driver's seat fixed, and will need a new windshield seal. (At the moment, those are made of unobtainium.) But overall, for about $17,000 when it all shakes out, that's a really good buy.
Intermediate Driver

Hmmm. Had to look up the meaning of 'neglibile'. 😉 If anyone out there is driving Soltice vin. number ___180, it was mine and I miss it. Sold it too cheap last June.

1982-85 Riviera? Good luck on finding someone to work on it who knows and understands early '80s GM technology.

Miata? One of the absolute best cars I have ever owned. That is the car that led me to try Toyota (it's a long story) and I'm sure glad it did.

Pit Crew

The Cadillac Allanté should have been on this list. A limited production, luxury car like the Allanté selling for less than $20k is a bargain. I don’t own one but i will be looking for a good one soon before they jump in price; especially the 1993 edition with the NorthStar engine. This Caddie with a Pininfarina body has been underestimated for a long time. It looks and rides better than most cars on your list.
New Driver

I'm not sure why the Boxster is not considered attractive by some. I sold a 2006 Corvette to get my hands on a low mileage 986 and I love it! I also loved the Corvette but, the reliability and convenience of the Boxster made it worth it. The mid engine driving experience is amazing and the rear view of the car is so unique. And now that Porsche has added the 986 to it's "classic" catalog, the support in parts and service is outstanding. I don't discriminate against any sports car but, if you keep up with the maintenance on a Porsche, they really are wonderful cars.
New Driver

We own another inexpensive domestic convertible. Olds built Cutlass convertibles late in 20th century too (1991-1995). They were built the same as the Buick Riveria - as coupes and then shipped off to be modified.
The’re not rockets but make nice crusin cars for not a lot of money
Pit Crew

No disrespect, but I have to wonder where these prices are coming from. They just had the BJ auction here a couple weeks back and cars went for crazy money like they always do in auctions. These same cars on the street go for a fraction of the auction price. I have been involved with the classic and antique collectors market since the mid 1980s. I see local prices for many of the cars listed, that are in excellent shape, selling for less than half and more commonly half of what is listed in the article. New restored Spitfire $6.5K 1974 MGB fully restored $8K Boxters $8K to $12.5K all day long and Alfas' under $10K all day long with A/C.
Pit Crew

They should have also included the MX-5 NC3
New Driver

A clean low mileage 2002 – 2005 Ford Thunderbird (retro) was under twenty grand for many years and the perfect roadster for the mature crowd .. but good luck finding one now...

What! No PT Cruiser GT. Room for four adults and an adult body in the trunk! Oh, the humanity.