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Guide to buying a classic convertible

Guide to buying a classic convertible

Despite our changeable weather, the UK is one of the biggest markets for convertible cars, with more than 55,000 new convertibles sold last year. We Brits love our drop-tops in a way that many other European countries with more sun don’t – we’re more likely to buy a soft-top than the fashion-conscious French or the car-crazy Italians, even though both countries have a far better claim on sunshine.

As we move into the warmer seasons, the sun is shining (well, occasionally), the days are longer and you start to imagine yourself motoring through glorious British countryside, picnicking in fields of corn... 

If you’re thinking that now is the time to slip into something more convertible, let us help you with a few tips as to what to look out for. So get out there, pick up a classic convertible and enjoy the feel the wind in your hair – even if it’s mixed with a bit of drizzle.”

• Evaluate the entire car. Even if it’s exactly what you’ve been dreaming of, it’s important to stay focused on a thorough evaluation. If the car seems mechanically sound, it's time to test the mechanical and electrical integrity of the convertible top. Typical problems with convertibles sometimes involve the complex system of brackets and springs, the fabric, and the latching mechanism.

• Verify that the switch is functioning properly, if relevant. The motor that opens and closes the top should be fairly quiet and move the convertible top easily. Ensure the top latches satisfactorily.

• Typically made of a 3-ply composite of fabric woven with plastics, tops are extremely durable, but inspect the material for noticeable wear and tear.

• Check the latching mechanism. If you have trouble latching the top, it's possible the fabric may have shrunk. 

• Be wary of any odours in the carpet, upholstery or boot. Look for rust or discoloured metal, they may indicate the presence of moisture and possibly a leak in the soft top. If possible spray down the car with water on a test drive. While some sellers may not like this practice it’s the easiest way to check for leaks.

• A number of classic convertibles come with hard tops as well as soft tops, if there’s supposed to be one check with the seller that it’s present and also in good condition. Don't think a hardtop is immune to leaks. Since hardtop roofs are often designed to fold in several places for storage, hardtop convertibles can be just as leak-prone as soft-top models.

• The draw of owning a convertible becomes stronger as soon as the temperatures start to rise, but it’s when demand (and prices) go up too. Buying a convertible in winter isn’t an act of madness, it’s the time when you’re most likely to bag a bargain. Dealers with convertibles to get rid of will be keen to free up space for models with more seasonal appeal such as 4x4s.


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