Summer is just around the corner, and this driver's fancy turns to convertibles. If you've never driven a convertible, do yourself a favor and rent one for the weekend as soon as the weather turns nice. You'll discover what millions of convertible owners have known for years -- nothing beats an open air experience.
Before we leap into the driver's seat, let's define what we mean by convertible. To the automotive purist, convertible refers to a convertible coupe, a two-door car with a back seat and a retractable fabric top. Further complicating matters, a four-door sedan with a retractable fabric top is a phaeton, a two-door coupe with back seat and a fold-down top can be called a cabriolet, and a two-door two-seater (with no back seat) and a drop top is a roadster. Add in cars with removable roof sections (targas and t-tops) and partially retractable roofs, and there are more ways to go topless than you'll find on an Ibiza beach. We're going to call any car, SUV or light truck that can lower its roof (either fabric or hard top) and back window a convertible, and leave the distinctions to the grammarians.
The first cars were convertibles, and they've been in production ever since. Today, convertible options include the muscular Ford Mustang, sleek Pontiac G6 and unique Chrysler Crossfire, while imports range from the tiny Smart ForTwo Cabrio to the classy Volvo C70 and the exotic Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.
Below is a list of the 10 best reasons to drive a convertible -- all based on my own experience with this style of car. If you are trying to convince your significant other that a convertible is a sensible purchase, you can lie to them and say the list is based on extensive industry analysis. However, I don't condone lying and -- honestly -- the only justification you need is to get your butt in a convertibles driver's seat, the car will do the rest.
1. A convertible eliminates blind spots.
Put the top down on your convertible, and the dangerous blind spot created by the c-pillar (the column that supports the roof at the back of a car) disappears, leaving unobstructed 360 degree visibility. What could be safer than that?
2. A convertible facilitates passive multitasking.
In an increasingly busy world, any time you can add a second task to your day without any additional effort, you'd be silly to pass up the opportunity. A convertible allows you to add sun tanning to your commute.
3. A convertible responds to your moods.
Even on the nicest of days, people occasionally experience sour moods. Driving a convertible doesn't mean you have to drop the top every time you leave a parking space -- you can still choose to huddle beneath the fabric top, preserving that sour face until you are fully ready to face the day. Once you cheer up, you can put the top down and share your shining face with the world.
4. A convertible has unlimited headroom.
How many times has this happened to you: You're on the road, when you see the perfect, authentic, 10 foot tiki totem pole for your backyard, and it's only $10! The only problem is that your sedan's trunk will barely hold a golf bag and the tiki gift stand is going out of business forever. If you were driving a convertible, that beauty would be in your garden right now, and it would have been a magnificent spectacle traveling down the highway all the way home.
5. A convertible gives you entry options. Haven't we all tried the Dukes of Hazzard entry into our sport coupes, leaping through the open window directly into the driver's seat? Well, with a convertible you can actually use those vaulting skills that your high school gym teacher insisted that you develop, and you'll have a chance of getting behind the wheel without sustaining major head trauma.
6. A retracted convertible top eliminates embarrassing phone calls.
Leave your convertible top down all the time and you'll never have to call the auto club to confess that you've locked your keys in the car -- again.
7. A convertible fosters an interest in science.
Take your children for a late night drive in your convertible, and encourage them to look up at the stars in the sky. Before long, you may be chauffeuring a potential NASA astronaut or rocket scientist.
8. A convertible is great for a relationship.
Think about it -- when was the last time you saw an unhappy couple driving around with the top down? It's much harder to argue in a convertible -- the combination of wind noise and exposure make a fight much less likely in a Bentley Continental GTC convertible than in a sedan.
9. Convertibles are fun.
Driving a convertible is the kind of fun that doesn't rely on speed or handling. Even a slow convertible is fun to drive. There's nothing better than being out in the elements while still being in your car -- the wind in your hair, the sun on your face, the smell of nature instead of the chill of air conditioning. When you have a convertible, you'll look for opportunities to drive -- a beautiful day can be amplified by a nice drive in your drop top.
10. Chicks dig convertibles.
If you are a girl, you know that this is true; if you are not a girl, you will find that driving a convertible will help you to attract and retain them. This is a proven fact, at least according to my expert industry analysis.
So there you have it. That should be enough ammunition to go out and rent or buy your next convertible. I would gladly give you more -- but I've got to get this totem pole out of my back seat and into the garden before the neighbors start to talk.