While the lustre of the convertible may have its roots firmly planted in automotive history, I find it increasingly difficult to find reasonable justification for them.
Like so many ideas of modern society, convertibles are good on paper, but pretty average in practice.
When you trace back the history of the automobile, you understand how they all began as open tops. When looking at the low speeds and general evolution carriages, you can begin to understand the ways in which the automobile evolved. It has gone from all-open tops to finding comfort, safety and general good sense in enclosing the space around the driver and its passengers. The convertible reached its zenith in the 1950s and 1960s. However, with the advent of more safety through the 1970s, convertibles slowly began declining.
It really all comes down to safety. But it’s also about realising the dream that the wind breezing through your hair is appealing for only about 5 minutes. After those precious moments, the blazing sun begins to burn your scalp, while dirt, debris and fumes begin to wear on your skin. As if that wasn’t enough, the noise of humanity and sensible people with enclosed cars can wear down any romantic notions of being one with the top down.
Short Term Appeal
Don’t believe me? Try it. Seriously. If you have dreams of owning a sweet SL Class Mercedes, a new Mustang drop top or a VW Golf cabriolet, go to your local dealer on a hot day and go for a test drive. If you are a sane human being, you will realise that the appeal wears off real quick.
On a recent trip, I had rented a Camaro that happened to be a convertible. The Camaro wasn’t the original plan, seeing as at the time, space was needed for plenty of luggage. So when the Camaro became an option, I didn’t think too much about it being a convertible.
I had the car for two weeks; the Camaro is absolutely fantastic and someday I will own one. But it will definitely have to be the coupe and not the convertible. For the two weeks that I had the car, the top came down for 20 minutes total. Under the blistering hot Sonoma sun, my wife and I lasted less than half an hour before we pulled back into the driveway and put the top back up.
The convertibles I’ve had the misfortune to drive recently include a few VW Golf convertibles (if hate and self-loathing were a vehicle, it would be the VW Golf convertible) and a BMW 120i. The Camaro yes, but the Camaro itself is such a great car that a convertible version of it just means there is just some added inconvenience. Now a Golf or BMW 120 convertible under the Australian sun is a no-win situation. Top down, awful. Top up, awful.
Who are these people who buy these cars? I’m not sure, but they are not my friends. Some car manufacturers seem to make a complete mockery of the process too. I’m looking at Range Rover in particular, with the monstrosity that is their Evoque convertible.
I will let Doug Demuro explain in his video below.
Anyone who had paid good money for it has undoubtedly spent too much time with their noggin’ in the sun.
Why am I hatin’?
So am I just a sun hater? Well yes, it’s bad for you, plus I don’t like dirt or the possibility that someone could hurl objects at me while I’m driving.
If you really like the sun and the wind, roll the window down or invest in a sun roof. It’s really all you need. Perhaps this comes from growing up in metropolitan cities, driving amongst a busy population of smog and traffic jams on the daily. But even with my time in the California sun, I can safely say that when it comes to driving, it’s best you keep your top on.