I’m a 35 year old physician with wife and 2 kids, who has happily made do with a succession of automatic VW Passat wagons, first a chipped 2000 and now a 2010 I use to reverse commute out of my large metro region. We’ll be moving to the oceanfront suburb of a small New England city this summer and I’ve got to select car #2. My commute will by short and pokey–7 miles each way, some of it along beautiful marshland and ocean, some of it not. Long haul family trips can be done in the Passat, but the second car should safely carry the kids in a pinch. Budget is 30-35k max. I’ve been thinking new v6 mustang convertible, but then again, is it time to invest in the future and, say, lease a volt? Or practical, comfortable fun in a new GTI/Golf TDI? Revisit a heavily depreciated bug convertible we used to love despite it’s crude underpinnings and tight back seat? Or take advantage of some older interesting vehicles–S4 cabriolet, 3 series convertible, or something I’m too boring to have considered?
As for top of the line convertibles and hardtops, I have a very soft spot for the M3 convertibles. However so does every yuppie between Boston and San Francisco. The Audis will cost less money and will tend to not be nearly as abused as the M’s. Given your short commutes and beautiful scenery, I would play the field but start here first.
Brady, you need to see what you really want in a second car. Reading between the lines it needs to be topless, not insanely powerful with VW-sized proportions (Corvette LS3-FTL) and of premium intentions. That said, always buy a German ride with a factory warranty covering your entire ownership period. The Mustang is a good long term value, but I don’t see you liking it over the long haul. Then again, prove me wrong. Or really blow our minds and buy an LS-1 powered Miata, as that’s what you really need. I’m serious!
My even more serious choice? A MINI droptop, preferably a Cooper S. And most definitely in Hot Chocolate paint, as the autobloggers-turned-Facebook-Admins at the Brown Car Appreciation Society demand it. The MINI is small, upscale, eco-friendly in appearance (though not really in practice) and drives like a firecracker. You can fit kids in the back seat, especially if they must be punished for misbehavior. And when the inevitable “repairs trump resale value” argument happens, the MINI has a strong following and hold their value quite well. Especially compared to any and all Audis.