What's the best convertible of the past decade?

DoNoHarm

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Original poster
Oct 8, 2008
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I know there is a new car thread, but I didn't want to hijack the thread.... I'm in the market for a used convertible. Something 5-10 years old. Are there any older convertibles that are incredibly fun to drive? Specifically, if you were to use the 2006 Miata as the yardstick, would a 199X corvette convertible, a Z3 roadster, or some other car be more fun to drive?
 

GoCubsGo

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 19, 2005
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I've always found the Z3 and Miata to be chick cars. How old are you anyway? If this is your first car I'd go safety over speed. Either way, the Corvette ranks real high in my opinion as far as cars made in the past decade. You can easily pick up a 5-10 year old Vette for the price you'd pay for a new car, if that's your thing.
 

DoNoHarm

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Original poster
Oct 8, 2008
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I've always found the Z3 and Miata to be chick cars. How old are you anyway? If this is your first car I'd go safety over speed. Either way, the Corvette ranks real high in my opinion as far as cars made in the past decade. You can easily pick up a 5-10 year old Vette for the price you'd pay for a new car, if that's your thing.
this would be my fourth car.

the progression went like this: 93 ford probe GT, 2005 chevy aveo, 2008 honda civic.

The probe was the most fun to drive, the honda is incredibly well engineered, reliable, and refined, and the chevy was a POS whose door locks actually fell into the door within the first year.

as for my age, I'd rather not say but "safety first?" How old are you! :p I agree that corvettes make a compelling proposition, but given how old they would be, i'm worried about lackluster handling. Obviously it can smoke the miata in a straight line.
 

mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
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Grand Rapids, MI, USA
I've always found the Z3 and Miata to be chick cars.
As long as it has a manual transmission, the Miata is a perfectly credible car. I don't personally care for the first gen, though (the one with pop-up headlights), but the second gen one, which would be in that timeframe, is excellent. (And if you need it to look more masculine, get roll bars installed -- there are lots of cool options available for that generation of Miata).

Oh, in that era, I also always wanted a Lotus Elise... used, they wouldn't actually be that pricey, but there just aren't that many of them out there. Not strictly a convertible, I guess, but close.
 

leekohler

macrumors G5
Dec 22, 2004
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Chicago, Illinois
As long as it has a manual transmission, the Miata is a perfectly credible car. I don't personally care for the first gen, though (the one with pop-up headlights), but the second gen one, which would be in that timeframe, is excellent. (And if you need it to look more masculine, get roll bars installed -- there are lots of cool options available for that generation of Miata).

Oh, in that era, I also always wanted a Lotus Elise... used, they wouldn't actually be that pricey, but there just aren't that many of them out there. Not strictly a convertible, I guess, but close.
Miatas are awesome, and I wanted one for a long time, until I tried to sit in one. Being 6'3" and built like a quarterback does not lend itself well to fitting inside a Miata. I was really bummed that I couldn't fit in the car. :(

That said, I tentatively plan to get a Camaro convertible next year, given that I get a good raise/new job and the reviews are good.
 

DoNoHarm

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Original poster
Oct 8, 2008
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As long as it has a manual transmission, the Miata is a perfectly credible car. I don't personally care for the first gen, though (the one with pop-up headlights), but the second gen one, which would be in that timeframe, is excellent. (And if you need it to look more masculine, get roll bars installed -- there are lots of cool options available for that generation of Miata).

Oh, in that era, I also always wanted a Lotus Elise... used, they wouldn't actually be that pricey, but there just aren't that many of them out there. Not strictly a convertible, I guess, but close.
I never thought about the elise. This video shows an incredible matchup between the miata and elise... with a surprise at the end.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_B_EfFsAPxI

and this inter-miata matchup!:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGk4RPlssD0
 

niuniu

macrumors 68020
Z3 and Miata are both fantastic, depending on the spec and model and both have a true roadster feel that you won't get with a TT for example. I've owned a Z3 and have driven several Miatas. You did say convertible though, so I guess for you the roadster thing isn't what this is about..

I drive a 2010 3 series convertible occasionally (320D) and find it too heavy in the front and don't enjoy the sound of it, so I would honestly avoid that - nice status car, but I've never had any pleasure driving it, I certainly would never buy one as my main car.

The price of a a first gen Z4 has dropped dramatically now, very affordable car, and although hated at the time, actually looks very nice in retrospect. If I had to buy a budget convertible right now, I would go for a Z4 (gen 1). If I had a bit more money to spend, and time to car hunt, I'd go for a Z3M, for retroish thrills and use it as a weekend car.

Something like this you can pick up cheap now and would represent good value for money..


Also have a look at the Honda S2000, local ricers put me off this car, but it's supposed to be a cracker. Avoid anything heavy though, especially coupe conversions (like the 3 series) - they're not really going to give you an exciting ride due to the weight. Keep it light and you'll get more fun out of it.
 

GoCubsGo

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 19, 2005
35,743
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this would be my fourth car.

the progression went like this: 93 ford probe GT, 2005 chevy aveo, 2008 honda civic.

The probe was the most fun to drive, the honda is incredibly well engineered, reliable, and refined, and the chevy was a POS whose door locks actually fell into the door within the first year.

as for my age, I'd rather not say but "safety first?" How old are you! :p I agree that corvettes make a compelling proposition, but given how old they would be, i'm worried about lackluster handling. Obviously it can smoke the miata in a straight line.
I'm quite old actually. Your age comes out in the post so I'd say that what I mean by safety first is that some cocky kid doesn't need a sports car. If you want one get the jelly bean miata and buckle up.
 

steve2112

macrumors 68040
Feb 20, 2009
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East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
The Porsche Boxster. It's fairly light and nimble, and the later versions with the bumps in HP have almost as much power as a 911. The Boxster/Cayman won the "best handling car" award from Motor Trend. Of course, they don't come cheap, so they may be out of your range.

It really depends on what you consider fun to drive, though. The Miata, Z3/Z4, and Elise are light and nimble, but somewhat down in power. The Corvette is bigger heavier, but has a lot more HP and torque. That's not to say the Vette doesn't handle well, but it is bigger. Audi also has an A4 Cabrio that is pretty good, if you can find one.
 

DoNoHarm

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Original poster
Oct 8, 2008
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I'm quite old actually. Your age comes out in the post so I'd say that what I mean by safety first is that some cocky kid doesn't need a sports car. If you want one get the jelly bean miata and buckle up.
Wanting a fast and fun car doesn't make me a kid. It's ok, I know you didn't mean anything by it! :) For the record, I'm just a man who wants a fun convertible to drive. If I didn't care about safety, I'd get something with two wheels!
 

quagmire

macrumors 603
Apr 19, 2004
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Get a used C6 Corvette. Gen IV Small Block V8 400 HP out of the LS2 V8, 'Nuff said. :)

What is your budget?
 

brandQn

macrumors newbie
May 11, 2010
20
1
Z3's are nice cars, very fun to drive.

I also really like the SLK class, such as the SLK320.
 

SpookTheHamster

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Nov 7, 2004
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London
If you're looking for "incredibly fun to drive" then it should definitely be an MX-5 (Miata), Honda S2000 or an Elise. The first two will be a lot easier to live with, but the Elise is one of the most fun cars ever.

Everyone I know with any of the three absolutely loves them. I'd probably go for an S2000 myself, having read about its awards
 

DoNoHarm

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Original poster
Oct 8, 2008
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Get a used C6 Corvette. Gen IV Small Block V8 400 HP out of the LS2 V8, 'Nuff said. :)

What is your budget?
i don't really have one. I don't want to spend money only to have it dissapear into depreciation. I'm not worried about spending a weekend or two per year doing minor repairs (brakes, oil, spark plugs, filter, etc.) and I'm OK with dropping the car off to a mechanic and spending a grand or two per year in upkeep for bigger stuff like radiators, clutches, etc. This essentially places me somewhere between $10k - $20k

I think i'm leaning towards a Z3, older Corvette, or the latest gen miata. I'm just wondering which will be the most fun to have as a daily driver. I'm not going to take it to the racetrack or anything, but I do drive regularly through Napa and California's west coast and I enjoy driving the car aggressively when it's safe to do so. The last time I drove from Sacramento to Santa Rosa through the mountains, my Civic's brakes just got too hot and started fading due to overheating! I think my driving style in those roads necessitates a more sporty car.

Maybe that's the best criteria: If you had to drive through Napa's wine country, which convertible would be the best choice?
 

quagmire

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Apr 19, 2004
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i don't really have one. I don't want to spend money only to have it dissapear into depreciation. I'm not worried about spending a weekend or two per year doing minor repairs (brakes, oil, spark plugs, filter, etc.) and I'm OK with dropping the car off to a mechanic and spending a grand or two per year in upkeep for bigger stuff like radiators, clutches, etc. This essentially places me somewhere between $10k - $20k

I think i'm leaning towards a Z3, older Corvette, or the latest gen miata. I'm just wondering which will be the most fun to have as a daily driver. I'm not going to take it to the racetrack or anything, but I do drive regularly through Napa and California's west coast and I enjoy driving the car aggressively when it's safe to do so. The last time I drove from Sacramento to Santa Rosa through the mountains, my Civic's brakes just got too hot and started fading due to overheating! I think my driving style in those roads necessitates a more sporty car.

Maybe that's the best criteria: If you had to drive through Napa's wine country, which convertible would be the best choice?
I am biased towards the 'Vette as I love V8's and the Small Block V8.

Anyway, I am surprised at how much older 'Vette's go for. Found this 2002 C5 Chevy Corvette Z06 that is in your price range with only 53,000 miles on it.

http://consumerguide.cars.com/go/search/detail.jsp?tracktype=usedcc&csDlId=&csDgId=&listingId=40235260&listingRecNum=8&criteria=prMx=20000&sf1Dir=DESC&prMn=10000&mkId=20053&stkTyp=U&mdId=20884&rd=100&crSrtFlds=stkTypId-feedSegId-mkId-mdId-pseudoPrice&zc=94108&rn=0&PMmt=1-1-0&stkTypId=28881&sf2Dir=ASC&sf1Nm=price&sf2Nm=miles&rpp=50&feedSegId=28705&aff=cg

EDIT: D'oh. Forgot you wanted a convertible. So nevermind on that Z06.
 

DoNoHarm

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Original poster
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exactly. they're so cheap! (even though that specific one is not a convertible). So as great as the miata is, are you telling me it's more fun to drive a miata compared to the 2002 corvette? I think I have to rent them for a few days to find out...
 

quagmire

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Apr 19, 2004
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exactly. they're so cheap! (even though that specific one is not a convertible). So as great as the miata is, are you telling me it's more fun to drive a miata compared to the 2002 corvette? I think I have to rent them for a few days to find out...
Well actually, I thought 'Vette's depreciated more then that. That is why I suggested a C6, because I thought a 2005 C6 being 5 years old would be cheaper then what they are right now.

And yeah, forgot you wanted a convertible. The Miata and 'Vette are two different cars. The C5 really did improve the 'Vette's handling. The Miata is going to be nimbler because of its size, but the 'Vette will have that low end grunt from its LS1 V8 and still handle the corners pretty well( especially since you won't be pushing it to the limits). The steering on the 'Vette will be a bit vague, not sure on the Miata. But, overall the 'Vette is a blast to drive. You would need to test drive both extensively to see which one you like better.
 

mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
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Grand Rapids, MI, USA
The steering on the 'Vette will be a bit vague, not sure on the Miata.
Steering is probably the single thing Mazda does best... it's almost telepathic.

The Corvette is a remarkably competent sports car, especially for the price, but it's an entirely different world from a Miata, sure, that's the understatement of the day. :D
 

quagmire

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Apr 19, 2004
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the elise is a fantastic car, I'm on my second one!

the only problem I have is living ing the UK :p

No doubt the Elise is a fun car, but they are hell to get in and out and they are basically street legal go carts. The seats are not that great and they are so minimalists to keep the weight down. Fun if he is using it for mostly track use, but as a street only car, he is better off with a 'Vette, Miata, or Z3.
 

kellen

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Aug 11, 2006
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Seattle, WA
M3. Somewhat practical spacewise and a hoot to drive. I even like the square bodied 1999 and earlier models.

Boxster as well. Nice to have the twin trunks. Cheap now too.
 

quagmire

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Apr 19, 2004
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M3. Somewhat practical spacewise and a hoot to drive. I even like the square bodied 1999 and earlier models.
And expensive to maintain...... That is why I say it should be down to Miata vs 'Vette. Both are fun to drive and are cheap to maintain.
 

northernbaldy

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Jan 13, 2010
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No doubt the Elise is a fun car, but they are hell to get in and out and they are basically street legal go carts. The seats are not that great and they are so minimalists to keep the weight down. Fun if he is using it for mostly track use, but as a street only car, he is better off with a 'Vette, Miata, or Z3.
hmm, I disagree. I find my elise seats incredibly comfortable, and they are easy to get in and out of (unless you are a massive fat ass)