What Car Did I Buy? Droptop Desires Got The Better Of Me, It's Time To Supplement The Family Minivan

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
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what car did i buy droptop desires got the better of me it s time to supplement the

Intending to ask your advice before I actually made a purchase, I was left alone with no family to entertain me last Friday night and, well, something happened. To go along with our long-term 2015 Honda Odyssey EX, I exchanged a large sum of cash for a new vehicle.

Tell people what you’re going to name your baby, and they will tell you what they really think. Tell people what you named your baby, and they’re more likely to say, “Oh, how nice,” even if you named him Dwayne.

Similarly, tell people what car you’re planning to buy, and they’ll be forthright with their opinions. Tell them what you’ve already bought, and they’ll be more likely to say, “Oh, how nice,” even if you bought a Outlander.

So we’re going back in time to last Thursday. The automotive universe is littered with options. My choices are limitless. Major life changes have presented our family with new opportunities, but also new challenges. Regardless, it’s time to double the size of our fleet.

Perhaps Canada’s brief summer exacerbates this Canuck’s desire for a convertible.

Summer is short. I want to take advantage of every last second.

This also explains why Canadian homeowners landscape incessantly despite the fact that all of their work is for nought for six or seven months.

I want to put the top down. But not just any convertible will do. I’ve got a budget of about USD $10,000. Due to the smaller market, and the much smaller market for convertibles, pre-owned prices aren’t as favorable north of the border as they are in the United States. Cross-border shopping is a possibility, but life has never been busier, and the last thing I want is to have a car detained at the border over some inspection technicality.

My options thus fell into four categories. Here are some examples.

No.1: Mazda MX-5 Miata

I’ve always wanted one. Growing up, there was a Mazda dealer on Portland Street in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. We basically had to drive by the dealer if we were going anywhere, and my siblings and I were floored when the first Miatas arrived in 1989. Obviously the latest ND Miatas are too pricey. Unlike many Miata fans, I’m a fan of the NC’s styling, but getting one in the price bracket wasn’t going to be easy, and I’m not convinced it drives as sweetly as the others. Many NA Miatas appear quite rough around the edges, and I like the look of the NB best. There have been a handful in my price bracket, many with extremely low mileage; some with high mileage but lower prices.

Two seats aren’t ideal for a family of four, but even if it had more capacity, this second vehicle isn’t going to be the car we typically use for family outings. We’re moving to Prince Edward Island next month, and the twisty rural roads around our new home would be ideal for a Miata.

No.2: Jeep Wrangler

So much for that fun twisty-road driving. But what the Miata lacks in terms of a rear seat and winter usefulness — the Mazda would be garaged all winter — the Jeep makes up for with genuine four-wheel-drive capability. No, you don’t need four driven wheels. (We’ll be acquiring a new set of winter tires for the Odyssey this year.) But we are moving to a place where winters can be, shall we say, harsh.

A rear seat, a removable top, and traditional Jeep qualities? I’ll put up with a fiddly soft top and find some hardtop storage in exchange for that.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear as though I can afford a post-2012 Pentastar, and I don’t want to go older than the current JK.

No.3: Something German

The Audi TT, BMW Z3, and Mercedes-Benz SLK are all just a little too cute for me. But the E46 3 Series is my favourite BMW 3 Series generation, and a useable rear seat certainly enhances its appeal.

Finding one with a manual transmission isn’t easy. I also have long-term maintenance cost concerns. But these cars are gorgeous, drive like BMWs used to drive, and are shockingly affordable.

No.4: Off The Board

The problem with spending every spare moment scanning the automotive classifieds? You’ll find things.

You’ll find a Land Rover LR3 with 186,000 miles for USD $3,000. Anticipated annual maintenance: $3,000.

Then there are the Passat Wagons that would serve utterly no purpose as the second vehicle in a minivan-owning family. Passat Wagons do look good, though.

Keep scrolling and you’ll find hilariously inexpensive Mazda RX-8s that will likely drink more oil than my new furnace. I love Volkswagen Golf GTIs. Minis are fun. So too are those Acura RSXs you see advertised with all sorts of engine swap code names. “I took out the EA87 and installed a *III427c for better power and reliability.”

But wait a second. I said I wanted top down motoring. Am I really going to forsake my own wishlist?

My choice has already been made. But now you get to tell me, right to my face, how badly I screwed up.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net and a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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  • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on May 18, 2017

    I'm also suffering from the nearing 40 and want a convertible syndrome. My Dad has a 2011 BMW 328 PRHT and it's a very nice car. I'd have gone for the 335, but he found it 2 years ago with only 11k on it. White with I think every option, it's an automatic. Very quiet on the highway, even with the runflats, the ride is fine. But maybe because my parents have one now, it's too "old man' for me. Maybe a 335 or M3 droptop? I want my next car to be "fun within reason". It must have 4 seats to justify its existence. I was considering an SS, but my Cruze has soured me (again) to most anything GM offers, especially at 40k+. My budget, limited garage space and fiscal sanity will not allow for a garage queen at that price either, so I've dialed back what I want. My list right now: -Fiat 500 Abarth cabrio: New ones are still a bit dear considering the bath one will take on depreciation, but there would be a warranty to cover FCA's ills for a few years. 2-3 year old cars can be found with less than 15k (many times less than 5k) miles for almost half the cost of new (especially before FCA hacked the prices.) There's a '17 in an interesting grey color with a grey roof that's at a CJD dealer in a hillbilly/college town 3 hours from home that I've taken a liking too. It looks way out of place with all the lifted Jeeps and Rams, may have to check it out sooner than later. I drove a leftover GQ edition and liked it a lot, but an extended drive would be necessary to determine taking one home, new or used. - Mini Convertible(Clubman if I don't do a convertible): I've always liked them, but mixed reviews on livability and reliability have kept me away. Plus the sticker prices are way inflated. But it would satisfy 4 seats and a droptop. - 1 or 2 series convertible. Low mile cars can be had for 15k or so, depending on age and miles of course. - Audi A4 or A5 convertible. A bit softer than the 1/2 series, but with much of the same desirability. - Fox Body Mustang convertible 88-93 in either LX or GT form. The new Mustangs are nice, but I just don't see myself in one. Camaro has never interested me, especially in "mobile bunker" form now. An older "survivor" convertible. A '92 Infiniti M30 showed up on CL near me for 3k with low miles. A purchase price under 5k would be inexpensive enough to buy and get a hardtop something for a daily driver, but that would mean lots of driveway/garage space I don't have.

    • See 2 previous
    • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on May 19, 2017

      @gearhead77 Another option I've kicked around: 996 (1999-2004) 911 Cabrio. There's a few around me, one dealer (large dealer) and private owner. PO car is AWD, dealer car isn't. It ticks all my boxes, I've always wanted one and prices are about what I'd pay for anything listed in my first post. Downfalls are that the 996 isn't well regarded, the interior isn't pretty and looks cheap. And that it's still going to be a 12-15 year old car and one that was pricey when new, so parts/repairs are a factor.

  • Cpthaddock Cpthaddock on May 18, 2017

    Smart Fortwo convertible?

  • Marty S Corey, thanks for your comment. Mercedes has many different models, and will survive. Jaguar is planning on only offering electric models and will be in trouble. They should continue their ICE models as long as possible, but have discontinued the F-Type already and will probably be discontinuing everything else. We purchased the current XF this year, which is a nice car, but would have been splendid if they had just continued the supercharged V-6 in it.By the way, I have really enjoyed your Continental and Eldorado series. Was just showing it to my barber, who owned several 1954-56 Eldorado convertibles.
  • Marques My father had one of these. A black 1984 Pulsar NX with a 5-speed stick and a grey interior. Dad always kept it in pristine shape-that black paint was shiny even in the middle of the night. I swear I could still smell the Rain Dance carnauba wax! The only issue that car ever had was that it was never driven enough-it would sit for 10 days at a time! The Hitachi carburetor on it(and other Nissans of the time) were known to be troublesome. It went to the boneyard at 72K miles when a hole got punched in the block. By that time the Pulsar had long ceased production.
  • VoGhost This is the only new vehicle I have the slightest interest in.
  • VoGhost I love it. Can't wait to get one. Finally, trucks are becoming actually capable, and it's great for America.
  • Peter Just waiting for Dr. Who to show up with his Tardis, and send these things back to the hellish dark dimension from which they came.