Our list of the best cheap used convertibles can be the most fun vehicles to own and drive. First, they provide an inexpensive option for open-air driving, and that in itself is enough to bring a smile to most people. Then, many deliver a dose of sportiness, which gives a significant boost to the drop-top driving experience: There’s nothing quite like tackling a twisty road with the top down to gain an appreciation of the driving process. It’s also worth noting that, by shopping the pre-owned marketplace, your choices expand to convertibles from premium brands, as well as from brands that are no longer in business. On the other hand, we have narrowed the field to include only those entries that have been available during the current millennium.
10 Best Cheap Used Convertibles
Photo Credit: Ford
10) Ford Mustang
Cheap used convertibles for muscle-car fans are easy to find, with the Ford Mustang being a prime example. Drop-top models from the early 2000s can be under $5,000, and they include not just V6 editions, but also V8-powered Mustang GTs. Those cars carry a 4.6-liter engine that makes 260 horsepower and 302 lb.-ft. of torque, while the standard transmission is a 5-speed manual; bolstering that powertrain are a limited-slip rear axle, Quadra-shock rear suspension, and front and rear stabilizer bars. The Mustang GT convertibles additionally deliver upscale cabin cues like a leather-wrapped steering wheel and sport seats. Finally, for an aggressive exterior appearance, Ford furnishes 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, dual stainless-steel exhaust, and a rear spoiler.
9) Chevrolet Camaro
The Chevrolet Camaro just barely fits our parameters for the best cheap used convertibles. Oh, there are plenty of inexpensive Camaro drop-tops, yet most are from the 1990s or earlier. Remember, Chevy stopped selling the Camaro between 2002 and 2010, so the total supply from the first few years of the 21st century is relatively low. Still, finding a nice convertible Camaro for under $8,000 is perfectly feasible. Even a 2002 Z28 edition would fit the bill, and those open-air Camaros came with Chevy’s high-performance ride and handling package, a 500-watt Monsoon premium audio system, and a fire-breathing 5.7-liter V8 engine—with a Corvette pedigree—that could kick out 310 horsepower and 340 lb.-ft. of torque.
Photo Credit: Mazda
8) Mazda MX-5 Miata
If you’re shopping for cheap used convertibles—or affordable new ones, for that matter—you can’t go wrong with the Mazda MX-5 Miata. More specifically, it’s the second-generation Miata that has the right stuff for many enthusiasts, since they’re more aerodynamic and refined than the first-gen cars, but noticeably lighter than the generation that followed. Also, after helping celebrate the Miata’s 10th anniversary when first introduced in 1999, this generation stayed in production through 2005. As a result, a fair number remain available. Shoppers today can enjoy the second-gen Miata’s agile reflexes, Bose audio, leather-trimmed bucket seats, and supremely easy-to-operate tops for under $5,000. A 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata has an MSRP of about five times that amount.
Photo Credit: Volvo
7) Volvo C70
Among the best cheap used convertibles with a more premium positioning is the Volvo C70. Although perhaps not well-remembered now, the C70 was a breakthrough for Volvo, with a sleek, sophisticated exterior design that marked a drastic departure from the brand’s boxier past efforts. The C70 did benefit from Volvo’s hallmark attention to safety engineering—with features like automatically deploying roll bars—yet it also checked important boxes on the luxury list, starting with a power-operated retractable soft top with a heated glass rear window. Meanwhile, beneath the hood was a 5-cylinder turbocharged engine that furnished surprisingly robust levels of performance. Despite all that, however, C70 convertibles from the first generation surface at less than $5,000 on a regular basis.
Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
6) Chrysler Sebring
Backed by three generations and a long run as the best-selling convertible in the United States, the Chrysler Sebring convertible combines advantages such as roomy, midsize proportions, an unexpectedly spacious trunk, and a wealth of standard and available content. For instance, models in our sweet spot—sold after 2000 and priced below $5,000—can offer premium audio, leather upholstery, bucket seats, a potent V6 engine, and an especially quick conversion to a fully open-air configuration. One button press can lower the top and all four windows at the same time. The Sebring also stands out from other cheap used convertibles with low pricing for more recent models. Thus, the occasional 2008 Sebring will pop up below the $5K mark.
5) Saab 9-3
Another model with a long history of cheap used convertibles is the Saab 9-3. Of particular focus for us, though, are the versions designed during the General Motors years. As readers may recall, GM controlled the Swedish brand from 2000 until its bankruptcy, in 2011, and the key product from the partnership was the 9-3. It was based on a GM platform, but fine-tuned by Saab engineers and stylists to provide quirky competition for the upscale European import brands. Turbocharged power is standard, and because models from as recently as 2006 can be bought for under $5,000, you can find some with modern-day content such as navigation, heated seats, heated exterior mirrors, and USB-enabled audio systems.
Photo Credit: Audi
4) Audi A4 Cabriolet
Cheap used convertibles from the premium German brands include Audi A4 models from the nameplate’s second generation, which saw its heyday from 2000 through 2006. The A4 Cabriolets from that time showcased a power-operated, 3-layer soft top that was engineered for noise reduction and insulation, and it can be retracted and hidden beneath the car’s hard tonneau cover in a mere 24 seconds. At the other end of the car, underneath the hood, the most common engine at our sub-$5,000 price point is a 1.8-liter turbo that tips the scales at 170 horsepower and 166 lb.-ft of torque. Pop-up support posts and a strengthened windshield also are on board to protect against rollovers
Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
3) Chrysler PT Cruiser
The only brand with two entries on our list of the best cheap used convertibles is Chrysler—thanks to the Chrysler PT Cruiser. Much maligned nowadays, the PT Cruiser was incredibly popular and well-received when it first debuted in 2000. The 2-door convertible model came along for the 2005 model year and features a power-opening cloth convertible top. The car’s fixed “sport bar”—for robust rollover protection—also serves as a prominent style cue, regardless of whether the top’s up or down. Further, beyond its inimitable style, the PT Cruiser convertible has impressive storage versatility. Its rear seats fold and tumble out of the way, so owners can take advantage of a cargo pass-through into the trunk—again, top up or down.
Photo Credit: Toyota
2) Toyota Camry Solara
Cheap used convertibles can present a certain reliability risk, which is why the Toyota Camry Solara is worth considering: It is—obviously—engineered by the same company responsible for highly dependable Toyota Camry sedan. The Camry Solara had two fewer doors and a slightly more athletic outlook on life, with later convertibles boasting a 210-horsepower V6 engine as their standard and only engine. On the topic of timelines, the Camry Solara soft-top was in production from roughly 2000 through 2009, in two generations, and examples from both are stickered below $5,000. In generation No. 2, the car’s power-retractable top, with a headliner and glass rear window, could be raised or lowered in just 10 seconds.
Photo Credit: Mitsubishi
1) Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
A sport compact classic closes out our best cheap used convertibles: the Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder. Again, this is the sort of car with multiple generations of inexpensive drop-tops, and in this case, it’s the third generation that’s the charm. Those 2000-2005 Spyders had dramatic exterior designs, complete with prominent rear spoilers and 17-inch alloy wheels, and their powertrain choices were highlighted by dynamic, 200-horsepower V6 engines. Mitsubishi also made a significant effort to increase the car’s rigidity despite its lack of a roof. For instance, inspired by racing programs, engineers installed a shock tower brace for enhanced structural stiffness—which is vital for sharp handling and responsive road manners. As for the tops, those were fully lined and had glass rear windows with rear defrosters.