Convertibles: Why I hate them (and yet own one again)

I cruised down the freeway towards my exit, fortuitously a loop ramp, on the last sunny evening of summer.  It was 70 degrees and almost sunset.  I rev-matched a downshift to 4th gear and dragged the brakes.  Then I dropped another gear, smoothly matching revs as I released the clutch.  Off the brake now, I turn in and ease onto the throttle.

Gently I press the pedal, shifting weight to the back and slowly picking up speed.  I launch out of the loop at 50 miles per hour, well over the currently posted speed limit, and I lift and coast down the highway towards a stoplight.

This is why I own a 1999 Miata.  I can enjoy a moment of driving zen on my commute at 30 miles per gallon or better.  Better than that, I can afford my moment of driving zen… used 1999 Miatas are not particularly expensive and generally low maintenance if treated well.

That the car is a convertible is not a selling point… quite to the contrary.

I hate convertibles.

When the top is down, I have a general distaste for the wind buffeting my head and trying to suck my ball cap off my head.  Or, marginally less annoying, swirling my hair (thinning though it may be) in all different directions all the time.

In the winter, they aren’t that pleasant to drive (I live in western Oregon… it rains, daily).  In the summer, hot days are unpleasant.  I always find the freeway unpleasant with the top down.  In rush hour traffic, the exhaust note of that diesel truck next to me is annoying.  The exhaust plume it puts out is even less pleasant.

When the top is up, convertibles are OK.  They’re still louder than their coupe counterparts.  The wind whooshing over the soft top is louder in the cabin.  Noises outside the car are much more noticeable than in a coupe.

Why do I own a Miata?  Oh, yeah… find me a cheap, reliable, agile, fuel efficient, sport coupe.  I dare you.  RX-8, you say?  Did I mention I’m getting over 30 miles per gallon on regular unleaded?  I’d love a Porsche Cayman, but even used ones are three to four times more than what I paid for my Miata… and maintenance!

And this… this is why I’m on my third convertible.  I can put the top up on the Miata and it is more enjoyable to drive than just about anything I can afford to own and maintain.  This car is just about right… cruise, AC, nice stereo, and just the right balance of edgy and cushy for a commuter.

But damnit!  A convertible.

4 thoughts on “Convertibles: Why I hate them (and yet own one again)

  1. I had a friend suggest the not-so-removable variant of the hardtop: Buy a hardtop, paint it to match the car, remove the soft top, and permanently bolt the hardtop on the chassis. That addresses the majority of the shortcomings I noted above, but doesn’t address the engineering issues, which are broader than just chassis stiffness vs. weight.

    The compromises that are made in the name of marketing. Argh!

  2. Removable Hard Top?

    I understand the feeling – I hate anything on the roof that comes on or off (with the exception of Jeeps.) T-Tops, Targa tops, etc, etc. Add to that the engineering arguments of the open top configuration and chassis stiffness vs weight and they just are not very appealing.

    if I want in the open air I am going to go ahead and ditch half the wheels while I am at it and take the Duc out for a sping : )

  3. I’ve owned four convertibles (two Miatas and two Fiat 124s), all of them have been red. Thing is, I never have wanted a red convertible. I’ve always thought Miatas, at least NAs, look best in blue.

  4. Sounds like you’re having a bit of an identify crisis! Once I got my 93 Miata, I gave up trying to resist the joys of convertible-ness! 😉

    I’m thinking about doing a post about the ‘Joy’s of Drop-Top Motoring’, based on this post. 😉

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