I don’t count sheep when I’m having trouble sleeping. I count convertibles, the least practical, most wonderful automobiles in existence. I picture myself basking in sunshine as I cruise in a Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet along the Pacific Coast Highway or the Amalfi Coast. This never sends me back to sleep. Nothing will when I am staring into the darkness of three o’clock in the morning. With slumber a distant dream, I may as well as think about my perfect driving experience.
It’s incontrovertible that it’s in a convertible.
Convertibles are a traditional delight. They are a perennial pleasure, like a perfectly brewed cup of tea or a glass of champagne. That’s because the earliest automobiles were open air. We are meant to feel the air and breathe in the fumes. It’s part of the original road experience.
This interest is also seasonal. Each year, as the snow disappears and the ice melts, my obsession blossoms like a car-shaped crocus poking its way out of the frigid landscape of my mind.
My ragtop tastes can be divided into three categories: premium sports cars, vintage cruisers and convertibles I might actually be able to afford (my least favourite but most often imagined category).
The premium convertible fantasy springs from the merging of power and pleasure. Take the aforementioned 911 Carrera S Cabriolet, which has 420 maximum horsepower and goes from 0 – 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds. Its top speed is 316 km/h. The Carrera S is stunningly beautiful, a Teutonic masterpiece. One of its finest features is a lack of four doors. Like most convertibles it has only two. That means there is no room for your family. Picture yourself ripping down the Autobahn at 235 km/h with the wind ripping by. It starts at $134,100. Das is perfekt!
The Ferrari Portofino is another roof-less wonder. This convertible is a perfect piece of art. It has a V-8 – 90 Turbo engine and a maximum speed of 320 km/h. It hits 100 km/h in 3.5 seconds. If you get one, it has to be in Ferrari racing red. The starting price is “if you have to ask you can’t afford it.” But rumours online have it going for $243,000.
When it comes to vintage cruisers, I seek a vehicle that is essentially a retro open-air living room on wheels. How fast it can accelerate is not important. You never want to exceed “rolling” speed. The goal is leisurely cruising. A 1957 Chevrolet Bell convertible is ideal. If you want to be a bit more streamlined, a 1974 Chevrolet Corvette complete with a V-8 engine would be perfect. This is a ride that would blend seamlessly into any ‘70s hard-bitten cop show.
The noun “convertible” does not usually follow the adjective “affordable.”
But that doesn’t stop me from fantasizing and, in fact, there are options for the budget-conscious. Take, for instance, the 2020 Ford Mustang Ecoboost Convertible. You get 310 horsepower and a 2.3L-litre Ecoboost engine for $36,080 to start. A 2020 Mini Cooper convertible starts at $31,190. A 2020 124 Fiat Spider convertible starts at just under $35,000. Not cheap, but not bad for the open-air experience.
The convertible that intrigues me most of all is the one most within my reach – a VW Rabbit convertible. I stalk Autotrader and other websites searching for this vintage vehicle, which was so ubiquitous in the 1980s. You can get a 1982 VW Rabbit convertible for $4,200 in British Columbia. There is a 1982 VW Rabbit convertible in Cadillac, Michigan for under $8,000 (US). There is a lovely 1985 for $4,550 (US) in Staunton, Illinois. So tempting and so far away.
There’s nothing like a dream that keeps you up at night.
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