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Hardtops vs. Ragtops

Comments

  • rockyleerockylee Wyoming, MichiganPosts: 13,989
    IMHO, as hardtops become cheaper to build it will make ragtops moot, except for some cars under $30K IMHO. ;)

    Rocky
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    ...to me, sorta sad. The trend speaks to the growing, for lack of a better word, "disconnection" between drivers and the driving experience.

    Ragtops are always less attractive with the top up, and the tops almost always seem to be an awkward necessity. The car seems to say "I have to have this thing, but I don't like it. Put it down and drive me the way I'm meant to be driven."

    The first gen Viper had this ridiculous top that when up had terrible visibility, forced drivers to hunch down, and even had slide side windows made of plexiglass. To me, it was totally cool, a sign of a car for serious drivers, a racecar barely tamed.

    Convertibles are among the last vestiges of everyday cars that are purely for driving's sake. Noisy, windswept, possibly dangerous, and with handling compromises indemic. But tremendously immediate and fun in feel and operation.

    But people don't really seem to want that anymore. It started with those airflow screens behind the seats, to minimize the turbulence. And now retractable hardtops that approximate a coupe when up. I'm sure eventually, convertibles will have a magnetic field you can switch on around the cockpit, so you can have the top down, but with absolutely no wind. :(
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Convertibles are among the last vestiges of everyday cars that are purely for driving's sake. Noisy, windswept, possibly dangerous, and with handling compromises indemic. But tremendously immediate and fun in feel and operation.

    I wouldn't have it any other way! Everyone should experience a convertible at some point in their driving life. A convertible for me now isn't about driving around during the hot daylight hours; they're for that perfect warm evening. You know the type of day where the high is like 90 degrees or better, but at night it cools down to like the lower 80's or upper 70's. There is absolutely nothing like it. Hell even the unbearable daytime temps are welcome at night because there is no sun to beat down on you.

    Now with hardtops making their way from roadsters to 4-seaters, convertibles will no doubt get even more popular because a few of those traditional compromises have now been eradicated from the convertible ownership experience.

    M
  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    Convertibles are among the last vestiges of everyday cars that are purely for driving's sake. Noisy, windswept, possibly dangerous, and with handling compromises indemic. But tremendously immediate and fun in feel and operation.

    :confuse:

    I've always associated convertibles with leisurely, ponderously-handling touring cars. Any car intended to be driven vigorously would be better off designed with a fixed roof, even the S2000. Honda could have brought it in under 2600 pounds if it had been conceived and built as a fixed-roof coupe. Driving it with the top down detracts from my driving experience, which is why I'm going to get the hardtop and leave it on.
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    Very true, if total performance is what you're after. The coupe version of a given car is always lighter and more rigid. To each their own.

    But to me, unless I spend the majority of my time on a racetrack (which I don't), I'm not going to be operating within the space between the limits of a convertible version and the higher limits of a coupe version. And my driving skills simply aren't going to overtake the performance potential of a decent convertible.

    So "driving for driving's sake" is more than simply statistical performance (0-60 times, Gs in turns, etc.) to me. I think it has to do with what could be termed the immediacy of the experience...being viscerally connected to what's going on.

    And that's what convertibles can offer in a big way...you get much more a sense of the total experience when the wind is blasting over you, when you can hear the tires on the turns, etc. To me, that totally offsets the minor loss of performance potential. :)

    I think a lot of people also feel this way. How else to explain the success of the Miata?
  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,701
    I think a lot of people also feel this way. How else to explain the success of the Miata?

    Not to mention the many other ragtop models that are selling very well out there. I know from experience that being out in the fresh air brings a whole dimension to driving that no steel top car can match (unless it's top comes off or goes down ;) ).

    I would definitely consider an E92 BMW convertible if they can keep the price below $60,000 :surprise:

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • bumpybumpy Posts: 4,435
    I think a lot of people also feel this way. How else to explain the success of the Miata?

    RWD under 2500 pounds. I can get the full wind and tire noise experience by rolling the windows down.
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    "RWD under 2500 pounds."

    I still think that's too much of a "performance stats" reason. Most people simply aren't judging cars like the Miata that way...

    "I can get the full wind and tire noise experience by rolling the windows down."

    I'd have to respectfully disagree...I've owned both, and while windows down in a coupe is good, there's no comparison to the sensory input you get with a convertible. And not only sounds, but also visual. You see so much more of what's around you without b-pillars in the way...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,648
    MIATA: It sells equally well to a female audience and you can buy it with an automatic. That doubles the market for the car right there. An S2000 can't do that as easily nor can a Corvette. Miata is a convertible for everyone. Probably the closest car to match that is a V6 Mustang.

    MODERATOR --Need help with anything? Click on my name!

  • carlisimocarlisimo Posts: 1,280
    Funny thing about the Miata is that during several years it had a manual transmission take rate of 80%. Wide appeal or not, it's still hardcore =].

    I have one now and when I'm driving it like a sports car, there's a huge difference with the top up and down. It's the engine/exhaust noise - it sounds so good in the open. There's more to it than that, but it's hard to put into words. Oh and top up, the engine noise is surprisingly muffled. Which is nice, because when I'm driving top up it's because I feel like I need to relax (if it's not due to the weather).

    The new Miata is now available with a retractable hardtop. It's slightly compromised - no trunk loss (something that's only easy to do on a two-seater), but it's a little ungainly and the rear window isn't much bigger than in the softtop. And that rear window is my only real issue with softtops. (If you buy the removable hardtop, you do get a big window but they're only worth it if you're going to keep it on a lot.)

    The other thing soft tops have going for them - well ok, just the Miata's - is that it only takes a couple of seconds to open or close it (especially the newest one). You can even do it at 15mph. In most convertibles you have to be totally stationary for like... several seconds. For the people behind you at a metering light, stop sign, or short traffic light, that's too long and they'll let you know!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,648
    That easy top is another appealing feature. Maybe retractables are slicker but on some cars like a Boxster you're never sure if the top will work the next time you try it. Oh great a broken retractable on an out of warranty Porsche...swell......

    Ah, simplicity.

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  • andys120andys120 Loudon NHPosts: 16,701
    Did I miss something? I am completely unaware of any convertible versions of the DTS or Chrysler 300.

    In another vein, a convertible which seats four or five isn't all that useful. I've owned both and no one every wanted to ride in back.

    I'm interested in the BMW One series convertible because I prefer the folding top to the expensive, complicated and top heavy retractable H/T on the larger 3 series.

    2000 BMW 528i, 2001 BMW 330CiC

  • fezofezo Posts: 9,410
    Good point on the back seat. My oldest daughter would ride in the back of my old Sebring and be fine but the second one wanted nothing to do with it. She was fine up front.

    That said, if I'm getting another convertible anytime soon (I'm having this very debate with myself right now) I'd likely have the back seat just because of the number of family members.

    Rag top, please.
  • ragtopcragtopc Posts: 3
    The car companies don't always make the cars some people want because there isn't enough volume to make a profit. Hence, the need for aftermarket companies. There Cadillac DTS and Chrysler 300 convertibles available with ample rear seat room and soon there will be the Cadillac CTS four door convertible as aftermarket. Searches on the web for "four door convertible or four/five passenger convertible will bring you to the aftermarket companies.

    Larry
  • fezofezo Posts: 9,410
    Cool. Will check that out.

    Meanwhile, I have pulled the trigger on my ragtop - a 99 Toyota Celica. Very nice. Just big enough. I'd have liked a five speed but given the paucity of Celica convertibles avail able I figure I can live with the automatic. Sweet car. Ebay special.
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