Britain is set to sizzle this week, with forecasts predicting temperatures higher than Barcelona and Ibiza by the weekend. If you want to make the most of the sunshine, now is the time to trade in your winter wheels for a drop-top.
Prices will rise as the weather improves – so act quickly, and you could get a bargain. We’ve found some of the most tempting deals for those on a budget, starting with the cheapest way into soft-top ownership…
Peugeot 206 CC
If your budget is this tight, you might want to consider cutting the roof off your current car. But it is possible to buy a Peugeot 206 CC for as little as £300. OK, admittedly, the folding hard-top might not actually work for that price. Indeed, the car might not work at all. But it’d look good on your driveway. Sort of.
Not worried about what you look like in a bargain convertible? Pick up a used Ford StreetKa for as little as £500. They’re only two-seaters and have a tendency to rust – buy one with a long enough MoT and be prepared to scrap it after summer.
Fiat Punto cabriolet
Don’t fancy a Peugeot 206 CC or Ford StreetKa? If you can stretch your budget to £850, there’s currently a Fiat Punto cabriolet on Auto Trader (yes, just the one – it’s that exclusive). And it’s yellow. It’s basically a Fiat 500C for a tenth of the price.
The roads will soon be awash with middle-aged MX-5 drivers looking smug with their tops off. You can pick up a useable first-generation model (with pop-up headlights) for around £1,000. Watch out for rust, and service history is important – buy well and it’s guaranteed to be a good investment.
An old MG F could be a summer bargain. A reputation for head-gasket failure means many swerve the mid-engined MG in favour of the MX-5, but that means you could grab a bargain, if you’re careful. There are tidy examples about for less than £1,000 – that’s a good price for a soft-top sports car that’s great to drive.
Saab 9-3 convertible
Since the company’s demise in 2011, you could argue the 9-3 convertible is already a classic. For the budget-conscious, you can find a late 90s example for less than £1,000. Watch out for dodgy hood mechanisms as these can be costly to replace, but you could buy an interesting, practical convertible for not much more than a new iPad.
Volkswagen Golf cabriolet
If driver-enjoyment isn’t high on your soft-top agenda, there are a number of third- and fourth-generation Golf cabriolets available for less than a grand. They won’t be the most rewarding drive, but it should be a fairly reliable way of enjoying the sun this summer.
£1,000 will buy you a boulevard cruiser of a Volvo C70, and we can’t think of much else for the money we’d rather own. Swedish build quality, four seats and luxurious leather… what’s not to like?
Alfa Romeo Spider
Is there a better looking car for the money? An Alfa Romeo Spider from 1995 can be picked up for as little as £1,000. The 2.0-litre Twin Spark is likely to be more reliable than the 3.0-litre V6 – find a cared-for example with full service history. Stretch your budget to around £3,000 for a fairly tidy one.
Looking for a convertible you can drive all year round? You can pick up a Suzuki Vitara soft-top for less than a grand. They’re great off road and ought to be fairly reliable, but be cautious of any that show signs of abuse.
BMW 3 Series convertible
If you’re on a budget and need more than two seats, older 3 Series convertibles can be a great buy on the used market. A budget of £2,000 will buy you a tidy E36 version from the 90s, while slightly rougher examples of its E46 successor are also dropping below £2,000.