by Jim Corbran
The 2009 summer crop of drop-tops
Go ahead, admit it. Your husband/wife/significant other would look much spiffier behind the wheel of a convertible compared to how they look driving that tired old teal Ford Escort. Or whatever it is they drag themselves to work in each day. Just think how much more zip they’d have in their step. How much brighter their outlook would be each day. How many more bugs they’d have in their teeth.
Even though times are tough in the auto business, there’s still a bumper crop of convertibles from which to choose. From the $434,000 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe (logic tells you that with a name that long it ain’t gonna be cheap, and at $108,500 per passenger seat in this four-seater, it ain’t) to the VW Eos (at $29,657, or $7,414 per passenger seat, it makes my name/price theory look pretty good), there’s something for everybody who wishes to work on their tan while motoring about. And believe it or not, Buffalo is one of the sunshiniest cities around; Google “2008 Sunshine Derby” and read about it. Even if you’re the nerdy type, a flashy convertible with, yes, you behind the wheel—white sunblocked nose and all—can still strike a handsome pose.
Edmunds.com breaks out the 2009 convertibles thusly: 63 total models; (prices in thousands) four priced below 25; 15 each between 25-35, 35-45, and 45-55, 10 more from 55-85; and 22 which are priced over $85,000.
So what are we suggesting this year? Favorites still include the Mazda MX-5 Miata (starting at a miserly $22,420, which works out to $11,210 per seat in this two-seater); the four-seater BMW 128i (around $34,000); the legendary Chevy Corvette, which starts at $54,170; and speaking of legendary convertibles, Ford’s 2010 Mustang is out there now, starting at less than half of that at $25,995.
If you’re up for it, Chevy has just announced a Grand Sport version of the 2010 Corvette. Equipped with the LS3 6.2-liter V-8, the Grand Sport packs 430 horsepower hooked up to either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Also on the Grand Sport are exclusive front and rear styling; functional brake ducts and extra cooling; larger brakes (if you’re gonna go faster, I guess it’s good to know you’ll be able to stop); and unique 18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels. Pricing for the Grand Sport, which was unveiled in Bowling Green at the 12th annual C5/C6 Corvette Birthday Bash at the National Corvette Museum, has yet to be announced. Bowling Green is also the home of General Motors’ Corvette assembly plant.
The 2010 Mustang convertible sports new styling (although from a block away it’s hard to tell), new wheels and tires that are up one inch in size to a range of 17-19 inches, a new taillight design featuring three LED bulbs that flash sequentially from the center to indicate your turning direction, and—my favorite new feature—the windshield washer nozzles are now tucked into the cowl area to “create a cleaner appearance while reducing wind noise.” Maybe that’s why my 1995 Century wagon is so noisy on the Thruway—it’s those damned unsightly hood-mounted washer nozzles!
If you only need two seats, don’t care much about whether or not the trunk has room for a spare tire, and are up for the excitement of owning a marque which may soon disappear from the marketplace, try on a Saturn Sky Red Line while you still can. Sky pricing starts at $27,595 while the sportier Red Line starts at $31,905. Those extra bucks will buy you more horsepower, a performance-tuned suspension, and several unique interior and exterior styling features. In addition, you can drive with the knowledge that your Sky is not only a fraternal twin to the German Opel GT, but in my opinion it’s a much better-looking car than their cousin, the Pontiac Solstice—which will definitely be a collector’s item very soon.
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