Fast and Topless


So why, in what is one of the wettest climates in the modern world, does the UK have the second largest Convertible market, only being surpassed by the USA? Well, I believe that it is simply because the weather is a bit like Goldie Locks’s porridge; that is to say, not too hot and not too cold. For a good proportion of the year, the weather in the UK, whilst not perfect is just right for a rag top. OK, we get our share of the dull and dreary days, but even then, as long as the temperature is above 15C degrees convertibles are fun; and the UK’s generally mild spring and autumn can be great times for driving with the top down. It is the culture of the British Driver really, taking advantage in order to get the most out of our weather. Personally, I have certainly enjoyed the relatively fine weather we’ve been blessed with from early Spring and right through this summer lockdown period, well certainly in the Liverpool area anyway. It has been a bit of a ‘Curates Egg’ I grant you, but my good lady and I have enjoyed many, many days this year with the roof folded.

Sweet dreams are made of this!

Wind in your hair

There is not enough mention made of the increased pleasure you get from driving a Cabrio apart from the adage of “the wind in your hair.” There is so, so much enjoyment to be had in driving a car with the hood down, it is a totally different experience which may sound obvious, so stick with me. For one thing, your peripheral vision is clear from all the restrictions that you get with the pillars and posts of a roofed car. You get greater perspective with the full 70 degrees of your field of vision absorbing all. So you can see an awful lot more, you can hear everything and feel and absorb so much extra including the good and bad whiffs nature has to offer. In driving through a wooded area, particularly in spring, your senses will be like never before with the combination of birdsong and the fragrance from the carpet of Bluebells. On a hot day in open countryside, I love the smell of the scorched terrain, or the brine off the sea when driving on a coast road; and if you take it to the nth degree, my favourite has to be driving at speed in the hot weather when you feel like you’re driving through the zephyrs of a the Mediterranean Mistral, my least is actually having to put the roof back up and switching on the aircon, because of it being too hot!



Wind in your hair

There is not enough mention made of the increased pleasure you get from driving a Cabrio apart from the adage of “the wind in your hair.” There is so, so much enjoyment to be had in driving a car with the hood down, it is a totally different experience which may sound obvious, so stick with me. For one thing, your peripheral vision is clear from all the restrictions that you get with the pillars and posts of a roofed car. You get greater perspective with the full 70 degrees of your field of vision absorbing all. So you can see an awful lot more, you can hear everything and feel and absorb so much extra including the good and bad whiffs nature has to offer. In driving through a wooded area, particularly in spring, your senses will be like never before with the combination of birdsong and the fragrance from the carpet of Bluebells. On a hot day in open countryside, I love the smell of the scorched terrain, or the brine off the sea when driving on a coast road; and if you take it to the nth degree, my favourite has to be driving at speed in the hot weather when you feel like you’re driving through the zephyrs of a the Mediterranean Mistral, my least is actually having to put the roof back up and switching on the aircon, because of it being too hot!!


Hard Top Convertible

I would strongly recommend if you purchase a soft top convertible that you are in a position to garage it! These “Rag Tops” can deteriorate when exposed to the elements, 24/7. Mine were always garaged and the roof condition on all of them remained as good as new.

Whereas, I don’t particularly like the appearance of the “Hard Top” Convertible, I guess it would be “Hobsons choice” if I couldn’t garage it.


So, how did I become a Porsche owner? It was a fine Spring Morning in May 2009 when I rather irrationally booked a test drive in a 911 Cabriolet. Could I REALLY afford one? No. Did it make economic sense after the 2008 crash? No! Yet we still did it, because as the old saying goes, “You Only Live Once and Life really is too sort,” and given I had an a bit of endowment cash, a top marque car seemed a better investment that a 20 cases of Chateau Petrus Red.

Aesthetics

As I mentioned previously, my beloved BMW 3 series option had decided to go hard top and my rag top had clocked some 78K miles, so was it was time to change?

As soon as I sat in the Porsche I was totally blown away. The sheer opulence of the cabin, the touch and feel and smell of the leather; the aesthetics in line with the ergonomics were just breath-taking, and all of this wonderfulness with the experience of driving it yet to come. What joy, what bliss!

With the unique noise of the engine surrounding you, the drive was worlds apart from anything I had ever driven before. A very low centre of gravity and the way the free revving, naturally aspirated 3.8 Litre engine effortlessly delivered the power without any flat spots was sensational; and with regard to the balance and handling, to quote an infamous phrase from a film, “it really did go around corners as if it was on rails.” I was sold! It was 3 years old and 20K miles. A little over half the price it was brand new. I’ve now owned it for 11 years and can’t see myself ever parting with it.

From an investment perspective it is now starting to appreciate, being a Carrera 911 (model 997 generation1), 4S Tiptronic S which has a degree of rarity. If you are looking for a wonderful statistic to impress your mates with down the pub that demonstrates the longevity of each Porsche Car, tell them that something like 73% of all Porsche ever built are still on the road! I guarantee they will be impressed!

You can get a 67 plate Mini 134 bhp with Chilli pack and 3k miles on the clock for circa £13,000

Porsche or Ferrari?

But enough of me and my wonderful car,; suffice to say I simply cannot over emphasise the amount of pleasure there is to be had from journeying in a soft top car and it’s not just about nice weather and powerful engines. It can be as much of a joy when being driven sedately. Convertibles are good on cold brisk, sunny winter days with the top down and the heater on aimed at the floor!

Speaking of Winter, rain is an interesting plus point too if you are that way out, who would have thought that? Rolls Royce conducted a worldwide survey before launching their latest “Dawn” Drophead. As the final specifications were engraved in stone prior to build, it was stated at the highest design and commercial levels that the product “Most definitely have a fabric roof because some customers actually enjoyed the pitter, patter of the rain on it and the feelings it evokes.”

If you cannot afford a Rolls Royce, a Porsche of Ferrari, do not be put off. There are so many marques out there at the right price for you. I was going to add that the only thing stopping you taking the plunge is indeed YOU and YOU alone. However, that would be an inaccurate statement as there can be another stumbling block for the older of those amongst us. Sportier models can of course be a right so-and-so to get into and out of, so beware.

Japans Mazda MX5. Some lovely inexpensive second hand models currently on the market

Summary

To summarise, there is quite literally a convertible for everyone. The car does not have to be fast, cost a lot or be low slung. I have friends who have classics like the Triumph Stag and TR6. Another Guy I know has a 1996 Ford Escort Cabrio. My Brother-in-law has a BMW M850i. All proud owners enjoying open top motoring. If however you are thinking of buying a new car, then you can do worse than bag an affordable Mazda MX5 which has proved very popular and successful in the marketplace, if of course your legs and back are up to it. Other great, lower cost offerings include the Audi A3, the BMW 2 Series and MINI and if you are wanting a real bargain with that “Cool Around Town” vibe, the Fiat 500 is an absolute steal.


So what are you waiting for? Go and buy one and if you have hair, get the wind in it!

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