used convertibles offer an inexpensive gateway into the joys of top-down motoring. The best used convertibles don't have to be recent models, especially if you are looking for a good deal, as drop tops frequently show less wear than their sedan and coupe counterparts. This is because convertibles are typically only driven when the sun is out and the roads are dry, with winter only rarely entering into the equation. As a result, you can often go back as far as 10 years and still find a used convertible that looks and drives nearly as good as it did the day it left the showroom.
Let's take a quick look at 10 of the best used convertibles available for 2014.
10 Best Used Convertibles 2014 - 01 - BMW 3 Series Convertible
The BMW 3 Series convertible has always been favored as an excellent all-around performer in terms of comfort, style, and performance. When the previous generation of BMW 3 Series convertible appeared on the scene in 2007, it brought with it a standard retractable hardtop that helps the car to maintain a coupe-like appearance when in the raised position. You'll find two different versions of BMW's 3.0-liter straight six engine under the hood of the 2007-2011 3 Series convertible: a base offering 230 horsepower and a turbocharged edition providing 300 ponies. Look for six-speed manual and six-speed automatic transmissions across the board.
10 Best Used Convertibles 2014 - 02 - Volvo C70
The Volvo C70 makes our list of the best used convertibles due to its versatility and affordability. The Volvo C70 never developed more than a cult following when sold new, which means that prices for this four-passenger mid-size convertible remain quite reasonable. The car's retractable hardtop is an added bonus for anyone intending to use the C70 as a daily driver. You'll want to look at 2006-and-up editions of this Volvo, which are all pretty much the same mechanically (2.5-liter, turbocharged five-cylinder engine generating 227 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque). The front-wheel drive C70 isn't as much of a handling machine as many of its Euro contemporaries, but it makes a great highway cruiser.
10 Best Used Convertibles 2014 - 03 - Jeep Wrangler
The Jeep Wrangler is rarely, if ever, included on a list of the best used convertibles, but we think the ability to head out into the wilderness with the SUV's soft or hard top sitting on a shelf at home is an incredible advantage over many of its off-road competitors. Even if you want to keep the top snapped on, you can open up the cloth roof at the front and fold it back for occasional open-air fun. No other convertible in our round-up features three different four-wheel drive systems or a trail rating. We recommend targeting a 2012 model, as the 285 horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 introduced that year is a clear upgrade in terms of grunt and fuel efficiency over the 4.0-liter six-cylinder that came before it.
10 Best Used Convertibles 2014 - 04 - Honda S2000
The Honda S2000 is one of those rare things on the high performance used convertible scene: a sports car that is as reliable as the day is long. A used Honda S2000 is likely to be a trouble-free second-hand purchase while still delivering the kind of handling and acceleration one would expect out of a compact roadster. The later versions of the car - 2004 to 2009 - featured a larger, 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine good for 240 horsepower and a suspension setup that’s not quite as tail-happy as the original edition. A six-speed manual is the only transmission you'll find with the S2000.
10 Best Used Convertibles 2014 - 05 - Ford Mustang GT Convertible
The only thing better than burning rubber in a muscle car is doing it with the top down so you can smell every incinerated inch that you've left behind you on the pavement. The Ford Mustang GT convertible is one of the least expensive ways to experience V-8 thrust in a topless package. When the 5.0-liter edition of the Mustang GT convertible debuted just a few short years ago it sent the prices of 4.6-liter cars plummeting, which means you can score a great deal on a car that still features 300 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque. Manual and automatic trannies are available with the used Ford Mustang GT convertible, which is a bonus for those who just want to cruise the boulevard with an eight-cylinder soundtrack playing in their ears.
10 Best Used Convertibles 2014 - 06 - Mercedes-Benz SL-Class
The Mercedes-Benz SL-Class sits at the top end of our used convertibles list, but that doesn't mean it's out of reach. Extreme depreciation has caused prices on a used Mercedes-Benz SL-Class to drop by tens of thousands of dollars over the years, which is the fate of all ultra-luxury cars outside their lease period. The SL-Class comes with a retractable hardtop and, in most models, a 382 horsepower 5.5-liter V-8 (SL550). You can also find a 510 horsepower, 6.0-liter 12-cylinder edition of the full-size roadster (SL600), although reliability is problematic with this complex engine. Shoot for a 2009-or-higher SL-Class in order to benefit from more modern vehicle systems, especially electronics.
10 Best Used Convertibles 2014 - 07 - Saab 9-3 Convertible
A Saab 9-3 convertible can be thought of as the northeastern tuxedo, a uniform of sorts for the gentle folk who inhabit Vermont, New Hampshire, and northern New York. The Saab 9-3 convertible might be an older design, but its unique styling and quirky character have made it a favorite amongst a dedicated cadre of owners. You're going to find a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine motivating any recent used 9-3 convertible, along with front-wheel drive and 210 horsepower. Handling is spirited in the Saab, and you'll also enjoy semi-premium comfort features at a lower-than-average price for a European ragtop when purchasing a used 9-3.
10 Best Used Convertibles 2014 - 08 - Porsche Boxster
A used Porsche Boxster is a bit of a gamble, as a defect with the car's intermediate shaft (IMS) can cause it to fail prematurely in pre-2009 models. There's a fix for the problem, and it's by no means a certainty that it will happen, but go into Porsche Boxster ownership with your eyes wide open (and make sure to ask sellers whether they have already performed the preventative maintenance that fixes this issue). Once you're past the scary stuff, be prepared to enjoy the pure handling that only a mid-engine roadster can provide. Like the SL-Class, a major refresh in 2009 added more six-cylinder power (255 horses for the 2.9-liter base Boxster, 310 ponies for the 3.4-liter Boxster S), which also bypasses the IMS issue completely. If you can afford it, target this generation of the car, which is enjoyable regardless of whether it features a manual or dual-clutch automated manual transmission.
10 Best Used Convertibles 2014 - 09 - Toyota Camry Solara
The Toyota Camry Solara is the used convertible you never have to think about, a rock solid, albeit a bit dull to drive four-passenger mid-size commuter. With the roof up, the Toyota Camry Solara is as practical as the Solara coupe, and with the top down you're looking at sunshine without having to pay a price in terms of increased maintenance or insurance costs. The Camry Solara was discontinued in 2008, and the 2004-and-up models represent the most modern iteration of the car. Make sure to select a model that features Toyota's available 3.3-liter V-6, as its 210 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque is better equipped to handle the weight of the car than the standard four-cylinder. A five-speed automatic transmission is included with each Camry Solara convertible.
10 Best Used Convertibles 2014 - 10 - Ford Thunderbird
For this last used convertible, we're going to go way back to the Ford Thunderbird. The Ford Thunderbird was revived between 2002 and 2005 in the form of a retro convertible that borrowed elements from the original 50's edition of the car. Built on the same platform as the Lincoln LS sedan, the new Thunderbird was reasonable fun to drive - provided you are behind the wheel of 2003 model, which significantly upped power from its 3.9-liter V-8 to a total of 280 horses. It's certainly not a performance car, but it does happen to be one of the most unique-looking vehicles on this list.