Buy/Drive/Burn: Affordable Convertibles From 2005

buy drive burn affordable convertibles from 2005

This edition of Buy/Drive/Burn was inspired by the comments some of you left on the recent QOTD Crapwagon Garage post on coupes. Though roadsters and convertibles were off limits there, the conversation turned to them wistfully. Don’t worry, convertible week is coming.

In the meantime, we’ve got a ragtop from 2005 to burn. Which one will it be?

About a decade ago, consumers had more choice for fun and affordable ragtop rides than they do today. Even with a strict price limit at $25,000, fun in the sun was yours for the taking. One of today’s contenders even has the engine in the middle.

Mazda Miata LS

It’s the one you knew would be here for sure. 2005 was the final model year for the second generation (NB) Miata, as the simple roadster was replaced by the larger and more rounded NC generation. Always a value leader, both the base and up-level LS trims came with a 1.8-liter inline-four producing 142 horsepower. All those horses go to the rear wheels via the five-speed manual. The LS trim netted buyers a six speaker Bose stereo, cruise control, and leather seats. Yours for $24,903.

Ford Mustang V6 Premium

The odd man out in our affordable trio, the Ford Mustang gives much more size and power than the other entrants, at the expense of fuel economy and additional weight. The fifth generation Mustang was brand new for the 2005 model year, and one can easily recall how the chunky, retro styling was all the rage. The Premium trim was one level up from basic Deluxe, but had the same 4.0 Cologne V6 and five-speed manual transmission. 210 horsepower was found underfoot, and Premium trims gained a power driver seat and upgraded stereo. This pony car asked just $24,815.

Toyota MR2

The roadster generation everyone forgets, the final MR2 showed up for the last time at North American Toyota dealers in 2005. Two different trims were differentiated by the manual transmission offered: standard five-speed on the lower end, or a premium priced six-speed auto-manual. The 1.8-liter engine produced 138 horsepower in the lightweight cabriolet. The five-speed version (today’s choice) did without cruise control, metal trim on the shift knob, or satellite controls on the steering wheel. This last chance MR2-nity (ugh) asked $25,145.

Which one gets the Buy and which one Burns?

[Images: Mazda, Ford, Toyota]

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2 of 54 comments
  • Dantes_inferno Dantes_inferno on Jun 18, 2018

    Buy the Miata & MR-2 Drive the Miata & MR-2 Crash test the Mustang. Then burn it to the ground.

  • Arach Arach on Jun 18, 2018

    This one is too easy. I'm jumping on everyone else's bandwagon: Buy the MR-2 Drive the Miata Burn the Mustang, but only because you have to burn one. there's no real hatred, anger, or dislike towards the mustang, but rather compared to the three... it is still depreciating, its "fine", but you know its not the V8 version, the engine was really oudated and it doesn't drive all that well, but its fine for the price.

  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
  • Arthur Dailey I am normally a fan of Exner's designs but by this time the front end on the Stutz like most of the rest of the vehicle is a laughable monstrosity of gauche. The interior finishes suit the rest of the vehicle. Corey please put this series out of its misery. This is one vehicle manufacturer best left on the scrap heap of history.
  • Art Vandelay I always thought what my Challenger really needed was a convertible top to make it heavier and make visability worse.
  • Dlc65688410 Please stop, we can't take anymore of this. Think about doing something on the Spanish Pegaso.
  • MaintenanceCosts A few bits of context largely missing from this article:(1) For complicated historical reasons, the feds already end up paying much of the cost of buying new transit buses of all types. It is easier legally and politically to put capital funds than operating funds into the federal budget, so the model that has developed in most US agencies is that operational costs are raised from a combination of local taxes and fares while the feds pick up much of the agencies' capital needs. So this is not really new spending but a new direction for spending that's been going on for a long time.(2) Current electric buses are range-challenged. Depending on type of service they can realistically do 100-150 miles on a charge. That's just fine for commuter service where the buses typically do one or two trips in the morning, park through the midday, and do one or two trips in the evening. It doesn't work well for all-day service. Instead of having one bus that can stay out from early in the morning until late at night (with a driver change or two) you need to bring the bus back to the garage once or twice during the day. That means you need quite a few more buses and also increases operating costs. Many agencies are saying for political reasons that they are going to go electric in this replacement cycle but the more realistic outcome is that half the buses can go electric while the other half need one more replacement cycle for battery density to improve. Once the buses can go 300 miles in all weather they will be fine for the vast majority of service.(3) With all that said, the transition to electric will be very good. Moving from straight diesel to hybrid already cut down substantially on emissions, but even reduced diesel emissions cause real public health damage in city settings. Transitioning both these buses and much of the urban truck fleet to electric will have measurable and meaningful impacts on public health.