Sometimes a car purchase isn't about practicality, miles per gallon, or convenience. Sometimes, it's just about having fun, and few vehicles are better at putting a smile on your face than convertibles. Open air driving takes us all back to the very first days of motoring, when building a car with a roof was an afterthought and almost all automobiles proudly strutted around town with the wind threatening to remove the hats from their passengers heads. Over time, convertibles became associated not just with performance, but also pleasure, as they kept their owners in touch with the road and the world around them in a way that driving a completely enclosed car simply couldn't.
Let's take a quick look at 10 of the most fun convertibles to drive.
Most Fun Convertibles To Drive - 01 - Mazda Miata
The Mazda Miata is the best-selling roadster of all time, with over 900,000 examples having left the factory since it was first introduced in 1989. The appeal of the Mazda Miata is linked to its marriage of traditional British roadster fun with Japanese reliability, which had never before been attempted in the automotive industry. The Miata's outstanding handling is backed by modest horsepower, but the car's excellent balance, affordable pricing, and lightweight chassis have made it a mainstay on the convertible market. Newer models also throw a retractable hardtop into the mix, giving it four-seasons capability for those who've only got a single parking space at home.
Most Fun Convertibles To Drive - 02 - Honda S2000
The Honda S2000 is essentially a weaponized Miata, a roadster that maintains a similar low-mass philosophy but matches it with a high-revving, 240 horsepower four-cylinder engine that in its first iteration could reach almost 9,000 rpm. The Honda S2000 was called a 'two-door motorcycle' by many when it first came out, and it wasn't the easiest vehicle to drive at high speeds. A revised S2000 appeared on the market a few years later that canceled out some of the snap oversteer and added low-end torque via a displacement bump for the engine. Whether you prefer the on-the-edge experience of the original Honda S2000, or the more forgiving nature of the second edition, there's no arguing that this vehicle isn't one of the most fun convertibles to drive.
Most Fun Convertibles To Drive - 03 - Lotus Elise
The Lotus Elise is still sold overseas but has become a victim of North American crash test standards, which means that only used examples of this mid-engine marvel are currently available to U.S. convertible fans. The Lotus Elise was designed as a track day toy that could also double as a daily driver, and although it's not the easiest car to get in and out of it has built a loyal fan base thanks to its exotic good looks and handling that has to be experienced to be believed. The heart of the Elise is a four-cylinder engine sourced from Toyota, and with no real weight to deal with (and superchargers available for those who crave more power) the vehicle's acceleration goes above and beyond 'spirited.'
Most Fun Convertibles To Drive - 04 - BMW M Roadster
The BMW M Roadster was the bully on the two-seat convertible block between 1998 and 2002 before it was replaced by the more civilized BMW Z4. The BMW M Roadster took the Z3 platform and beefed it up with sportier suspension settings and, most importantly, M power under the hood. Initially, the car came with the same inline six-cylinder engine offered in the 90's-era M3, but for its final two years of production it gained a 315 horsepower version of the E46 M3's larger mill. This transformed the convertible from fun to raucous and gave made it a challenging ride to hoon around a road course.
Most Fun Convertibles To Drive - 05 - Ford Mustang GT Convertible
It's almost impossible not to have a blast while driving a Ford Mustang GT Convertible. Whether it's an 80s-era Fox-body, or the latest 5.0 with over 400 horsepower on tap, a Ford Mustang GT Convertible delivers an outstanding soundtrack, plenty of tire smoke, and an interior that's large enough to cart around the entire family. The topless muscle car is all about driving like a hooligan, which means plenty of right foot action with the wind blowing through your hair. Unlike most of the other models on this list, its larger size also makes it a decent highway cruiser, perfect for long-distance fun-in-the-sun.
Most Fun Convertibles To Drive - 06 - Chevrolet SSR
The Chevrolet SSR makes our list of the most fun convertibles to drive simply because it's so unusual. The Chevrolet SSR is a convertible pickup truck - you read that correctly - that comes with a retractable hardtop. If this combination wasn't already enough to pique your interest, later versions of the SSR (which was built between 2003 and 2006) also featured a near-400 horsepower V-8 engine under the hood, an improvement of almost 100 ponies over the original truck's numbers. The SSR is intended for those who are comfortable drawing attention wherever they go, as this unusual model's retro hot rod styling is unique on the modern automotive landscape.
Most Fun Convertibles To Drive - 07 - Triumph TR6
Close to 100,000 Triumph TR6 roadsters were built between 1969 and 1967, and a huge number of these British convertibles were sold in the United States. The small Triumph TR6 is prized for its excellent six-cylinder power and its better-than-average handling, and the car was considered one of the best-performing roadsters of its day. A big part of the fun of the Triumph is being part of the classic car fraternity that is dedicated to keeping these models on the road. A body-on-frame design makes these cars tough as nails, and the vehicle remains one of the most accessible classic drop tops to ever have been exported from England.
Most Fun Convertibles To Drive - 08 - Chevrolet Corvette Convertible
There is perhaps no convertible more iconic on the American landscape than the Chevrolet Corvette Convertible. Even better is the fact that for the last decade, the Chevrolet Corvette has been designed as a convertible first, which means that the open air version of the car comes with the same structural stiffness as its coupe sibling and roughly the same weight. All of this translates into great performance, especially when factoring in the high-powered V-8 drivetrain afforded to each and every example. With the 2014 model priced at less than $60,000, and used versions of the Corvette Convertible much more affordable than that, the Corvette remains one of the most accessible sports cars available.
Most Fun Convertibles To Drive - 09 - MG MGB
Remember when we told you that the Miata was essentially a Japanese clone of a British Roadster? The MG MGB is one of the cars that Mazda used as its template (the other being the Lotus Elan). Compact, rear-wheel drive, and produced over a long period of time, the MG MGB is for many the gateway to Little British Car ownership thanks to its advanced (for the era) design, performance that is still more than acceptable by modern standards, and inexpensive pricing on the classic car market. MG is a big name in the small car universe, and the fun to be had at national gatherings of MGB owners is an alluring aspect of investing one of these antique roadsters.
Most Fun Convertibles To Drive - 10 - Jeep Wrangler
You can't mention the words 'fun' and 'convertible' in the same sentence without conjuring up images of the Jeep Wrangler. Despite constant improvements introduced over the years, the basic Jeep Wrangler concept has never really deviated from the same successful formula: six-cylinder power, capable four-wheel drive, rugged chassis, and a removable top. The Wrangler can be thought of as a basic vehicle intended to serve as an off-road chariot that can tread where other SUVs fear to cast a shadow, but it's also a worthy beach companion, camping accessory, or even daily driver for those who can overlook its rougher edges.