With winter just round the corner, open top motoring is the last thing on peoples minds, which is why it’s the perfect time to find a bargain roadster for next summer.
Demand for convertibles falls during the winter months and dealers keen to free up space may be inclined to offer larger discounts.
You might think these cars are unsuitable for winter driving, but thanks to better fitting soft-tops and removable hard-tops, these roadsters can manage the elements. Just be extra cautious in the ice and snow, as rear wheel drive and low grip can cause a nasty surprise.
Here’s my top 5 bargain roadsters:
The Crossfire combines Mercedes SLK engines and underpinnings with a cheap plastic American interiors in unique looking package. The handling is far from awe inspiring but it is well equipped. With the climate control on, you’ll hardly notice it’s winter outside. Prices start from around £2,500, which is a lot of car for the money.
The Copen is a pocket-sized roadster with endearing looks. Thanks to its light weight, the tiny 660 CC engine still delivers nippy economical performance, but look for the later 1300 CC models if you want an engine you need to work less. With the retractable metal roof up, you’re well shielded from road noise and the perils of winter. The front drive chassis makes its handling predictable but engaging. This much fun is a steal with prices starting from £1,200.
No list of roadsters would be complete without the MX-5. It’s been the affordable enthusiastic driver’s car for over 25 years. The engines are fairly reliable but the bodywork does like to corrode around the arches and sills. Aftermarket hard tops are available to keep out the elements and the MX-5 is only too happy to be driven daily. With plenty of choice available, you can afford to be picky. Look for a 1.8 special edition with plenty of extras. You could get yourself a guaranteed classic from £750.
The MGF is a great car plagued by some poor engineering choices. The K-Series engine was renowned for head-gasket failures and it’s fitment in the MGF exacerbated the problem. Look for cars that have had the head-gasket changed to the multi-layered steel version. With the gremlins sorted, it’s an enjoyable driver’s car that delivers cheap thrills. The later 1.8 models with variable valve control are the ones to choose, with prices starting from as low as £500.
The third generation MR2 is a nimble sports car with styling that has aged better than its predecessors. If you squint, it’s almost a Porsche Boxter. The rev-happy 1.8 engine is surprisingly economical when driven gently but a practical car it isn’t. Luggage space is minimal even for this class of car. Pre-2003 models gained a reputation for eating their own engines, so go for a later model. For a shear raw driving experience it’s the best here. A snip from £1,000.