When it comes to driving, nothing beats the feeling of lowering a convertible car’s roof and enjoying the freedom of the open road. With summer upon us, more drivers are tempted by the thought of a cheeky convertible. The good news is you could pick up a bargain convertible, cruise with the roof down all summer and sell it again before autumn without breaking the bank.
To help get all soft-top dreamers started, we’ve picked these convertibles from the classifieds – all for around £2,000. Some are sporty two-seaters, others more practical four-seat cars. But the one thing they have in common is that thrill of the wind in your hair and the sun on your face.
For the girl or guy about town: Peugeot 207 CC
If you’re looking for a roof–down runaround that can handle the cut and thrust of busy city streets, look no further than the Peugeot 207 CC. It features a folding hard-top roof so feels secure on a dark night in a deserted street.
And compared to the 206 CC, its predecessor, it’s much more robust and doesn’t rattle about like a bag of nails. There are convertibles that are more fun to drive, but this one is practical and affordable.
We found a 2007, 207 CC with a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, that had done 77,000 miles for £1,800.
Posh but affordable: Saab 9-3
It’s easy to understand why Saab is so missed in certain quarters. The lovely thing about a Saab convertible is that it’s not for pushy poseurs who want to rush around at maximum revs. This is a laid back, unassuming car with four fantastically comfortable seats, a big boot and a reputation for being tough as old boots in the event of an accident.
There’s a decent selection for less than £2,000. We found a 2001, 9–3 2.0T that’s only been driven 61,000 miles and has spent all its life tucked up in a garage. With an MOT until May 2017, you (almost) can’t go wrong.
The two-seat roadster: Mazda MX-5
If a Mazda MX-5 and a winding road fail to put a smile on your face, you shouldn’t be driving. The Japanese roadster is one of the sweetest two-seaters money can buy, with an engine that loves to be revved, responsive roadholding and a general feeling of intimacy and immediacy that you just don’t get in other cars. The good news is there’s such a wide choice you can afford to be fussy and choose the right age, engine and mileage for your money.
Folding hard-top roof: Vauxhall Tigra
It’s easy for petrolheads to knock the pint-size Tigra. Not for them a convertible with a little engine that doesn’t roar like a dinosaur and handling that’s safe rather than sporty. But that’s fine, because it makes this the perfect car for those who just like to have a pose and feel good about life for a modest price.
The folding hard-top roof provides refinement and promotes a feeling of security, and there’s plenty of choice for £2,000. We found a 2009 Tigra with the 1.4-litre engine, 65,000 miles, three owners and nearly a year’s MOT. Bargain.
Sweden’s stylish soft-top: Volvo C70
With millions of Brits falling for Nordic Noir television shows, it figures that some drivers will be tempted by this somehow anti-cool Swedish soft-top. In the posh part of the car market, it’s refreshing to find a luxury car that doesn’t have an Audi, BMW or Mercedes badge on the bonnet.
The leather on a period C70’s seats is just turning lovely and supple now, and the car always felt sturdy and well made from the day it was released. It’s great at cruising along with friends or family, as it boasts four large seats and a good-sized boot. A 2003 C70 2.0T with 101,000 miles caught our eye for just less than £2,000 but with its full service history and long MOT.
The useable sports car: Toyota MR2
Badge snobs may scoff, but the Toyota MR2 is a better car than the Lotus Elise. It’s just as much fun to drive – which means it’s an absolute hoot – but won’t wear you out like a weekend babysitting. That’s because it comes with luxuries like carpets, door panels, a proper dashboard and some sound-proofing between the driver and the engine, which sits behind them.
Browse the classifieds and see if you can better the 2003, 1.8-litre model we found that had just 62,000 miles on the clock.