Car Life Nation

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A gray 2024 Porsche 718 Boxster is shown parked near a mountain.

The Case for Convertibles

Convertibles might seem like a luxury in today’s market, but these open-air rides were actually some of the world’s first cars. That said, these early horseless carriages don’t have a lot in common with today’s convertibles, and the original 1897 Daimler Grafton Phaeton might not draw the right kind of attention when you’re cruising by the beach on a hot summer day. Until the 1920s, convertible-type cars, whether early runabouts, roadsters, or touring cars, were actually the norm. This began to change as mass-produced enclosed cars with steel bodies took over, but drivers never lost their appetite for that unique wind-in-your-hair feeling that only a convertible can provide.

What’s so captivating about this corner of the auto market? Convertibles aren’t always the most practical choice due to their relatively high cost and warm-weather predilections, but their appeal has endured throughout the decades. The convertible market hit its high point in 2006, representing two percent of all U.S. vehicle sales, with more than 320,000 units sold. That trend does look to be slowing as automakers continue to cull sedans from their lineup, and advancements in panoramic sunroofs and glass tops have also allowed buyers to get a taste of the convertible lifestyle without investing in an actual convertible. However, there’s no substitute for a true convertible to a dedicated set of drivers. From safety and visibility to headroom, luxury, and the undeniable cool factor, let us make an argument for why you need to buy a convertible when you’re in the market for your next vehicle.


Improved visibility is one of a convertible’s most obvious benefits. In a normal car, truck, or SUV, a driver’s view can be obscured by the roof, door frames, and pillars. Small windows can also noticeably impact visibility, preventing a driver from getting a quick and accurate look at the road around them. These issues are largely absent when it comes to convertibles, which, thanks to their lack of a fixed roof, eliminate most blind spots and allow drivers to get a full 360-degree view of their surroundings. This provides an obvious safety benefit, giving drivers the ability to spot pedestrians, obstacles, and other vehicles well before they become an issue. The wide-angle view is especially helpful when it comes time to park, meaning convertible owners can easily squeeze into even the tightest spots.

A white 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata is shown parked near a lake.


Safety isn’t the first thing a person might think about when they imagine a convertible, but some studies have shown that the segment actually outpaces many of its competitors when it comes to crash and fatality rates. Given their lack of a fixed roof, this might seem counterintuitive, but the numbers back it up. A 2020 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that police-reported crashes involving convertibles were six percent lower when compared to the rest of the market. Fatalities were even lower, trending 11 percent below average and shooting holes in the theory that a lack of a fixed roof translates into a riskier ride.

Those might be some heartening statistics, but they seem to defy logic. While visibility certainly plays a role, some suspect the convertible segment’s better-than-average safety showing has more to do with psychology than the actual vehicles themselves. Today’s closed cockpit vehicles are packed with a full suite of features that both make drivers safer and make them feel safer. The lack of road noise, an abundance of airbags, and a steady influx of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) can lead today’s drivers to feel invulnerable behind the wheel. While these features certainly positively impact safety, they can also lend a false sense of security that can lead to more aggressive and reckless driving habits. Convertibles are a different story. Drivers naturally feel slightly more exposed when cruising the highway with the top down, leading them to exercise more caution and contributing to the segment’s impressive safety record.


Few vehicles are as versatile as a convertible. If you want to soak up the sun, simply throw the top down. Are dark clouds or cold temperatures on the horizon? Put it right back up and you’ll be riding in comfort. A convertible allows drivers to customize their ride every time they turn over the engine. This flexibility is a big selling factor for the convertible segment and the main feature that sets it apart from your garden-variety car, truck, or SUV (aside from Ford’s prank F-150 convertible). Sure, it comes at a bit of a premium, as convertibles are typically a little more expensive than fixed-roof models, but the novelty is well worth the price for many drivers.


Many of today’s most popular mass-produced vehicles provide plenty of headroom for even the tallest driver, with a roomy cabin and features like adjustable seats and tilting steering wheels providing ample comfort and customization. The same can’t be said for the sportier side of the market, where smaller, low-slung vehicles can represent a real barrier for lankier motorists. Everyone wants the chance to experience life behind the wheel of a souped-up sports car, but it can be hard to enjoy the ride when your knees are in your face, and you’re bumping your head against the roof. Convertibles address this common issue by removing the roof, letting drivers pilot a smaller, sporty ride without risking a low-grade concussion. While convertibles aren’t generally designed as dedicated cargo-haulers, the absence of a roof also means they can accommodate larger, bulkier cargo that you might struggle to cram into the typical sports car. Convertibles will never rival pickups of full-size SUVs when it comes to cargo space, but they’re certainly more practical than some of the alternatives.

The “Cool” Factor

Some things look cool, whether it be rocking a leather jacket, walking away from an explosion in slow motion, or throwing on a pair of mirrored shades and delivering a quippy one-liner. Sure, our idea of “cool” has probably been influenced by flashy Hollywood movies and TV shows, but there’s no substitute for the confidence the right action or accessory can impart.

Convertibles are the ultimate accessory, lending a timeless sense of cool, and are scientifically proven to make every driver feel 15 percent more like James Bond. Convertibles might not always be the right choice for every driving scenario, but there’s no substitute for rolling up to the function in a sporty, open-air ride. With the ability to jump into the driver’s seat at a moment’s notice, convertibles even allow drivers to bypass the hum-drum task of opening and closing doors without making contortions like the Duke boys. Make sure you get a little practice before trying this trick in public because face-planting in the pavement is a surefire way to spoil that cool convertible cache.

Two people are shown in a red 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Sporty, Luxurious Ride

Barring some off-road-focused Jeeps and short-lived automotive experiments like the open-air versions of the Kia Sportage and Toyota RAV4, convertibles tend to be based on some of the sportiest, thrilling cars the industry has to offer. Whether it be the Chevy Corvette, BMW Z4, Porsche 718, or Mazda Miata, convertibles are generally designed to put the driving experience at the forefront. Their minimal size allows for maximum handling and agility, allowing convertibles to carve through corners while delivering some truly hair-raising acceleration.

A convertible sports car might not be your first choice when facing wet weather or a long morning commute, but when the right conditions strike, there’s nothing like throwing the top down and achieving that windblown look in the most exciting way possible. Given their overlap with the performance sector, convertibles also tend to pack many luxury features one would expect to find at the price point. From plush interiors and cutting-edge features to premium materials and sophisticated exterior styling, no one will mistake a convertible for some entry-level model.

Resale Value

When properly maintained, a convertible can actually represent a solid automotive investment. Convertibles tend to hold their value pretty well, especially when it comes to rare or classic models. The Porsche 718 Boxster tops the list for resale value among luxury convertibles, retaining 74 percent of its value after half a decade. The Porsche 911 and Chevy Camaro also make the top ten, but this trend isn’t limited to the top end of the convertible market. Relatively affordable models like the Fiat 500c, Volkswagen Beetle Convertible, and Mazda MX-5 Miata all punch well above the industry average when it comes to five-year resale value, retaining between 72 and 69 percent of their original purchase price.

We’re all excited to take ownership of a new vehicle, but it’s never too early to start thinking about reselling your car. Of course, guaranteeing the value of your long-term investment isn’t always easy. In order to fetch the best possible price, drivers must keep up on maintenance, especially when it comes to the convertible roof itself. Soft top convertibles are especially finicky, often requiring constant care and reconditioning of their roof material. Some consider soft convertible tops a wear item, requiring infrequent but regular replacement.

Convertibles can be a polarizing subject within the automotive world. While some drivers like to ding the segment for a perceived lack of practicality, there’s no denying the appeal of being able to drop the top and take a nice cruise on a warm, sunny day. They might not always be the most pragmatic option, but if you’re looking to complement your daily driver or large family vehicle with a car that’ll really get your blood pumping, a convertible is the obvious choice. From safety and resale value to luxury, comfort, and the very real if hard-to-define cool factor, there’s a reason that convertibles have stood the test of time. The segment might not be as popular as it once was, but there will always be a place for convertibles in the hearts and driveways of drivers who know that life is often more about the journey than the destination.

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