It's the middle of winter. It's snowed, it's rained, and brass monkeys have been struggling to keep hold of their testicles. Now is the time to grab yourself a convertible. While all the sane people are out panic-buying suitable cars for winter and everyone else is paying through the nose for winter tyres, it's the ideal chance to grab a topless bargain. Dealers will be struggling to shift them alongside all the 4x4s, and private sellers may want rid before Christmas, so prices steadily creep down through Autumn and bottom out in winter. In fact, given this year's soggy summer, they might be at their most tempting prices for a while. As spring hits, those window numbers will edge back up again, so now is the time to act.
Caveat emptorThere are, of course, a few things to look out for. Unless you go to view your potential drop top during the day, chances are you'll be looking at your 'vert in the dark. This is baaaaad, mmmmkay? In the dark you won't see prangs, dings and leaks, and if it's been lashing down all day then you'll have water to contend with too. If it's still lashing down then you might not be as thorough as you would in the dry. Since it's a convertible, check the hood for rips, tears, split windows and other ailments. If it's electric, check that too. And have a good poke around inside to ensure some water hasn't been to view the interior before you got there. Pull back the carpets if you have to and be suspicious if there's a forest's worth of Magic Trees hanging from the mirror. If it smells like a taxi accessory shop in there it may be covering up the pong of dampness. Other than that, do all your usual checks. And play firm and fair with that price - if you don't buy it now, the seller may be trying to shift it for another four or five months, so you can use that to your advantage. So whaddya go for then? Here are five cheap roofless heroes to pick up for a song.
Mazda MX-5It had to be here, really. Love or hate the little Mazda, it's top bombing to drive and already costs pennies. Over winter, you should be able to get a pretty decent one for less than a grand, while summer prices could add a £500 premium.
Volkswagen Golf CabrioThe drop-top Golf is no sports car but it's well-built, dependable and the VW badge still carries a bit of cachet. You could feasibly use it all through the winter months without feeling hard done-by, as it's nearly as cosy as the hard-top Golfs. Prices vary, but Mk3s are easily found for under a grand.
Audi TT RoadsterAnother VW Group 'vert and another that's more style than substance, but prices are little over £2k right now. Another grand should secure one with full service history, and the TT has a trump card up its four rings - quattro all-wheel drive. If ever there's a stylish cabrio suited to snow, it's this Audi.
BMW 3-Series convertibleWhen the weather's crap, having something rear-drive is always a bit of fun. Okay, so we've all seen those videos of BMWs going nowhere fast in the snow, but stick some winter tyres on the 3er and you should cruise around no problems. There's a 3 out there for every budget (they're still making 'em), but a single grand will get you into the 1990s E36 series.
Vauxhall TigraNow, we'd not normally recommend you go out and buy a Vauxhall Tigra, but with mid-00s examples dropping comfortably under £3,000 at the moment, and a secure, warm, metal folding roof only a button press away, it could be worth a punt. That roof has more chance of working than those on the similarly small Peugeot 206CC, too.
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